Throughout the course of history, Indian country has been the victim of unwarranted and harmful attacks from the outside. That is why it is so troubling when our own communities are wrongfully attacked from other factions from within Indian Country.
It is even more troublesome when the weapons used to mount such attacks are formed from inaccurate information. On March 14, a column by Harold Monteau was published in IndianCountryTodayMediaNetwork.com that unjustly accused members of the Native American Contractors Association (NACA), specifically its Alaska Native Corporation members (“ANCs”), of not adequately supporting RES2012. The fact is that NACA, and all of its members, are proud and excited to be part of the RES conference each and every year.
More specifically, the column contains the statement: “There was an absence of Alaska Native Corporation exhibitors.” Sadly, had the author walked the entire exhibition floor, he would have seen dozens of booths belonging to ANCs. Although correctly identifying two NACA members (Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska and Chugach Alaska Corporation), it’s hard to fathom how the author could have missed the very large booths of Sealaska Corporation, NANA Development Corporation, and Bering Straits Native Corporation, just to name a few.
In fact, NANA Development Corporation not only had a very large booth, it was a conference sponsor, has a shareholder and officer of the company on the NCAIED Board of Directors, and had 31 paid attendees. ????In the true spirit of the RES2012 Conference, ANCs contributed to the success of the conference. Representatives of all thirteen (13) of the regional ANCs, and dozens of the village corporations, attended and fully participated in the conference. More specifically, over 160 members of ANCs were present, many staffing their 20-plus booths. The total dollar investment of ANC involvement in RES2012 was well over $300,000 that included over $30,000 in sponsorships. NACA was a Turquoise Sponsor at RES2012 ($18,000), and hosted a reception attended by 500-plus people, from all corners of the country, that for over two hours mingled and no doubt discussed business relationships and opportunities. Our member ANCs are committed to the success of the RES conference, and undeniably recognize the significance and the importance of building strong and meaningful relationships with Tribes and Tribal entities located in the lower 48 states, and those in Hawaii. From our data, NACA member representatives participated during the general sessions, sat on numerous panels, but more importantly, our members conducted over 160 meetings with tribal entities from across the country.
In addition to ANC participation, agents from associations from Alaska that represent the interests of Alaska Natives (i.e. ANCSA Regional Association, Alaska Federation of Natives), along with members of the Alaskan congressional delegation were also in attendance.
Certainly, if there was only an interest of all these individuals and entities to simply mingle with other Alaskans, none would have made the trip to Las Vegas, Nevada. Contrary to the suggestions made in the Indian Country Today Opinion column, all attended RES2012 for the specific purpose of developing relationships with Native entities in the lower 48 states and Hawaii.
One thing is clear, no matter what the cause may be, Native people and communities, from the tip of Maine to the furthest northern regions of Alaska, must unite in order to serve our respective communities in the most effective and responsible manner. We have come too far to let divide and conquer tactics, especially from within Indian country, fracture our communities today. Such tactics should not be tolerated by anyone in the Native American community. There is much to be learned from one another, whether from Alaska Natives, Tribes, or Native Hawaiians. Our goal should be to keep our Native communities united, and build upon our successes and learn from our failures. Efforts to divide should be soundly rejected. Such efforts do no justice to our overall goal of developing self-sustaining communities. We at NACA strive to bring communities together in pursuing our mission to secure the SBA 8(a) program for Indian Country, and will vehemently object those who attempt to divide.
NACA is a national Native advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C., and represents Tribal, Alaska Native Corporations, and Native Hawaiian Organizations across the country. NACA seeks to protect the economic self-sufficiency of America’s indigenous people that is enhanced through the participation of its members in the SBA 8(a) program. NACA’s members represent and provide benefits for nearly 700,000 Tribal members, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians.
Kevin J. Allis is a tribal member of the Forest County Potawatomi Community, and serves as the Chairman of the Board for the Potawatomi Business Development Corporation. In that role, Kevin has played a significant role in diversifying the Tribe’s asset base and increasing the overall wealth of the Tribe, which has included investments in tribally owned federal contractors. Prior to joining NACA, Kevin was an attorney with the Washington D.C. based law firm of PilieroMazza PLLC that is nationally recognized as being a leader in providing superior legal advice to Alaskan Native Corporations, Native Hawaiian Organizations, and tribal entities participating in the SBA 8(a) program.