Indian Country taking care of business at TANKA BAR HQ!

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Indian Country taking care of business at TANKA BAR HQ!

By Eric Pourier, photos and story


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When the South Dakota Indian Business Alliance held its quarterly meeting on Aug. 21 at the Lakota Funds Trade Center in Kyle, the topic of Native American entrepreneurship was front and center -- and so was the Thunder Valley eTanka Cafe.

Four Bands Community Fund, Inc., Standing Rock Entrepreneurial Center/Business Equity Loan Fund (BELF), and SAGE Collaborative made a presentation focusing on the resources available to Native American entrepreneurs. Lakota Funds also featured 17-year-old R.J. Lawrence from Eagle Butte, S.D., who has been operating a landscaping business for more than 10 years.

After the formal presentations in the Lakota Funds conference room, the group moved to the eTanka Cafe, which is located at Native American Natural Foods' Tanka Headquarters, for a presentation from the Thunder Valley youth interns.

"This business alliance is not only important for the reservation, but for South Dakota," said State Sen. Scott Heidepriem (D-Dist. 13), who is running for the office of governor in 2010. "If you want to attract young people home, it's not jobs that they want. It's an attractive environment that they want to come home to, and jobs will follow."

Nick Tilsen, Executive Director of Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation, said, "We employed 12 summer youth, who learned how to run a till, customer service, and financial literacy training from Lakota Funds. We brought people here; we wanted this project to be able to use what was readily available here on the reservation."

Marilyn Pourier, Institutional Development Director for Oglala Lakota College, said, "This (E-Tanka Cafe) is a big success. When other young people see this, it will lead them to other businesses on the reservation."

According to Karlene Hunter, CEO and co-founder of Native American Natural Foods, said starting a business on the reservation is challenging.

"We have learned how to partner with non-profits, state, and outside organizations, and the Oglala Lakota College," she said. "We could not, nor afford to, start a business alone."

Mark A. Tilsen, President of Native American Natural Foods and Ms. Hunter's business partner, said, "You see how bad that road is to Rapid City? That road carries over $200 million to that city. We have to keep it here and that's why the Pine Ridge Chamber of Commerce is focused on getting us to do business with other reservation businesses."

The group wrapped up the meeting with dinner and a tour of the cafe, Tanka headquarters, the Pine Ridge Area Chamber of Commerce and Lakota Prairie Ranch and Resort.



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Guest on Tue Aug 25, 2009 16:41:5
the video reminds me of the camera work from the borne identity, or maybe the blaire witch project, good story though