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Conversations on the Creative Economy: Building a Native-owned business

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Four Native entrepreneurs during Conversations on the Creative Economy.
Four Native entrepreneurs discuss how they are building their businesses and how tribal ties, culture and tradition play into their work during Chris Farrell’s “Conversations on the Creative Economy” in Bemidji, Minn., on Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019.
Photo by Greene Photography

Chris Farrell’s “Conversations on the Creative Economy” series opened the fall season with a focus on Native American entrepreneurship.

The Small Business Administration reports that firms owned by Native Americans and Alaska Natives grew by 15 percent from 2007 to 2012. Indigenous businesses in Minnesota are diverse, ranging from telecommunications to architecture to athletics.

Prominent Native entrepreneurs discuss how they are building their businesses and how tribal ties, culture and tradition play into their work:

  • Madonna Yawakie co-founded TICOM to provide telecommunication engineering and consulting services to tribal nations. She holds a B.S. in Business Administration, and a master's degree in community and regional planning from North Dakota State University. She is a citizen of the Turtle Mountain Ban of Chippewa Indians.

  • Michael Laverdure is a registered architect, a partner at DSGW Architects and president of the Native American-owned planning firm, First American Design Studio. He has made it a mission in his life to promote architecture and engineering as valid and vital STEM careers for tribal youth. He is a citizen of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians.

  • Sarah Agaton Howes is an Anishinaabe artist, teacher, designer, and community organizer from the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. She founded contemporary Ojibwe art marketplace House of Howes and is widely known for her moccasins, beadwork, and regalia classes connecting community through art.

  • Veronica Veaux is an assistant professor of business administration – entrepreneurship at Bemidji State University and co-owner of DomiNative Development. She is currently a doctoral student, focusing on Ojibwe women business leaders. She is a citizen of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe.

The event was hosted by Chris Farrell in Bemidji, Minn., on Thursday, Sept. 26.