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ACE Conference to Highlight Native Community Economy Building

By Steve Dubb

When the ACE board selected to have the ACE Institute in North Dakota, we did so for a couple of reasons: one was to recognize the vital importance that the region has played, both historically and in the present. Another critical reason was to lift up the work in Native communities in the region. To that end, and thanks to the financial support of
Cooperative Catalyst, the ACE Institute will begin with a panel of three amazing Native leaders, who will participate in our kickoff plenary session on “Cultivating Co-operation: Economic Development, Community Building, and Nation-Building in Native Communities.” These leaders are:

  • Carly Bad Heart Bull (Bdewakantunwan Dakota/Muskogee Creek and Flandreau Santee Sioux citizen) is executive director of Native Ways Foundation. The foundation’s mission “is to activate informed giving to non-profits in Indian Country and Alaska through donor education and advocacy from the Native nonprofit perspective.”

  • Joseph McNeil, Jr. (Standing Rock Sioux) is general manager of Sage Development Corporation, a Standing Rock Sioux-owned public power authority, the first such entity owned by a single Native nation in the United States. Sage generates renewable energy and is developing a 235 MW windfarm it aims to open before the end of the decade.  

  • Lakota Vogel (Cheyenne River Sioux) is the executive director of Four Bands Community Fund, a Native community development financial institution (CDFI) which to date has made over $20 million in home and business loans; she is also a member of the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.   

In this moderated panel, panelists will cover a range of issues from the relationship between economic development and nation building, to the cultural lenses that shape the work, to the meaning of co-operation in Native communities, to how non-Native co-op educations and developers should “show up” and not “show up” in Native communities, to how to build coalitions that bring together Native and non-Native communities. 

There will plenty of space for audience questions, too. We look forward to a lively conversation.  Hope you can join us in Bismarck-Mandan and see for yourself!