Inaugural Pokagon Economic Gathering brings together native entrepreneurs

By Micky Martin

On October 26, Mno-Bmadsen, the nongaming investment arm of the Pokagon Band, hosted its first ever Pokagon Economic Gathering. With four tracks, five panelists, one key-note speaker, four award recipients, 16 breakout sessions, 20 vendors, and 130 participants, Mno-Bmadsen is proud to announce the inaugural economic event a success.

The day started off with registration and breakfast, where guests received a conference tote full of swag. Ribbon Town sang a welcome song during the opening ceremony and Pokagon veterans posted the flags. After a motivational and positive speech by Mno-Bmadsen’s CEO Troy Clay, attendees made their way to desired breakout sessions. There were four tracks: Entrepreneurship, Pathways Career Guidance, Youth Leadership, and Traditional Culture.

During the luncheon panel, Lynette DeRose from Supporting Strategies, David Martin from Bicycle Tattoo and Bear Clan Creative, Denise Martin from Painted Ponies and Carla and Woody Steingold from Bneshi Mijem gathered on stage to talk about their experience as tribal business owners. They discussed time management and the process of starting up their own companies. All five panelists shared their personal experiences to provide insight for the benefit of other prospective entrepreneurs in the audience.

After the luncheon panel, guests could attend two additional rounds of breakout sessions, followed by an hour of social networking with an appearance from the Native magician John Sturk. Guests conversed with Trade Show vendors, all of which were also Native American business owners. Many people discovered businesses within the tribal community they weren’t aware of beforehand.

Afterward, dinner was served. Plaques and beautiful wool blankets from 8th Generation were presented to the Good Path Awards recipients. David Martin was the recipient of the Outstanding Entrepreneur Award, John Pigeon received the Outstanding Leader Award, Marcus Winchester-Jones received the Emerging Leader Award and Clarence White was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Gary ‘Litefoot’ Davis ended the evening with an engaging and heartfelt speech. He spoke about his experience as a Native rapper, actor and entrepreneur, walking the audience through his life achievements. It was an motivational and eye-opening experience to hear Gary Davis speak about his path of entrepreneurship and branding.

Mno-Bmadsen would like to thank the Four Winds Casino Resort staff, Trade Show vendors, panelists, volunteers and attendees who helped make this event a success. Support from the Pokagon community for Mno-Bmadsen and the Pokagon Economic Gathering is greatly appreciated! Mno-Bmadsen looks forward to the continued journey of economic investment and diversification through the tribe on the good path to good business.