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Native American Heritage Month


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The Minority Business Development Agency join in paying tribute to the rich ancestry and traditions of Native Americans. In Fiscal Year 2011, MBDA assisted Native American-owned businesses with gaining access to $536 million in contracts and capital. This is a 62 percent increase over Fiscal Year 2010 levels. During the 3-year period of the Obama Administration, MBDA assisted 1,983 Native American owned businesses in obtaining $1.1 billion in contracts and capital—a 94 percent increase over the prior 3-year period.

MBDA Success Stories of Native American-owned Businesses

MBDA Helps Native American-Owned Business Secure Millions in Contracting and Increase Revenues By 70%
Thanks to a chain of introductions set in motion by the business development specialists at the MBDA Business Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Mr. White was able to meet and spend time with contract officers at Tinker Air Force Base.

MBDA Native American Business Enterprise Centers Help Rural Communities
As a second generation owner of a steel company, some might say that entrepreneurship flows through Russell E. Robertson’s blood. His company, American Steel Placers, Inc. is located in San Bernardino, CA and has contracts with city, county and state agencies to supply and place rebar (reinforcement steel) for concrete structures.

MBDA and Sacred Power Corp. – Creating Jobs of the Future
“MBDA has always assisted us. They’ve helped with marketing the proposals that we bidded on, finding funding and bonding since we are half manufacturing and construction. MBDA has helped us all along our timeline of business development,” said Sacred Power CEO David Melton.

MBDA Helps Sister Sky Tap into a Legacy of Entrepreneurism
Their journey from mall kiosk, to spa hotels, to their new ventures has included a lot of help including support from the MBDA’s Don Chapman, senior adviser on Native American Affairs and the Office of Native American Business Development. Sister Sky’s revenue last year was over $500,000 in gross sales.  Primed for growth, they’ve come a long way from the $35,000 a year in their early years. 

Read additional success stories.

About Native American Heritage Month

Information courtesy of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior

What started at the turn of the century as an effort to gain a day of recognition for the significant contributions the first Americans made to the establishment and growth of the U.S., has resulted in a whole month being designated for that purpose.

One of the very proponents of an American Indian Day was Dr. Arthur C. Parker, a Seneca Indian, who was the director of the Museum of Arts and Science in Rochester, N.Y. He persuaded the Boy Scouts of America to set aside a day for the "First Americans" and for three years they adopted such a day. In 1915, the annual Congress of the American Indian Association meeting in Lawrence, Kans., formally approved a plan concerning American Indian Day. It directed its president, Rev. Sherman Coolidge, an Arapahoe, to call upon the country to observe such a day. Coolidge issued a proclamation on Sept. 28, 1915, which declared the second Saturday of each May as an American Indian Day and contained the first formal appeal for recognition of Indians as citizens.

The year before this proclamation was issued, Red Fox James, a Blackfoot Indian, rode horseback from state to state seeking approval for a day to honor Indians. On December 14, 1915, he presented the endorsements of 24 state governments at the White House. There is no record, however, of such a national day being proclaimed.

The first American Indian Day in a state was declared on the second Saturday in May 1916 by the governor of New York. Several states celebrate the fourth Friday in September. In Illinois, for example, legislators enacted such a day in 1919. Presently, several states have designated Columbus Day as Native American Day, but it continues to be a day we observe without any recognition as a national legal holiday.

In 1990 President George H. W. Bush approved a joint resolution designating November 1990 "National American Indian Heritage Month." Similar proclamations, under variants on the name (including "Native American Heritage Month" and "National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month") have been issued each year since 1994.

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