Native Americans from Federally recognized Tribes enjoy unique business benefits. There are also many misconceptions about Native American and Indigenous people, such as:
- Ethnic stereotypes from history books, movies and pop culture
- Economic stereotypes – like most Indian Tribes have Casinos and receive monthly income from them
- Spiritual stereotypes that sensationalize religious practices
While there have been many reasons for mistrust and misunderstanding between Native and non-Native people, there is an opportunity like never before to create new relationships, business and personal, based on trust and mutual respect for culture and history.
The only way to create mutually beneficial business opportunities is to understand that the goals for Natives could be different from that of non-Natives. Outsiders see open land, lack of familiar icons, like yellow arches. Natives fear that doing business with outsiders infringes on sacred land and values, because it commonly has.
Some say it is about the money. Tribes that have money do business with anyone they choose. Tribes that don’t have money experience a Catch 22 because it takes money to make money. Being tempted by “outside” money may not result in a positive transaction for all.
What is the answer? Education and collaboration for starters. There are resources, liaisons, people who care to honor both old and new, Tribal and non-Tribal with the common goal of ending the cycle of poverty for those who were here first.
It is time for a new paradigm for doing business.