Business And Arts In Oklahoma's Indian Country
Doing Business With Indian Country Or U.S. Government Can Be Tricky But Not Impossible.
Providing a roadmap for doing business with tribal agencies or the federal government, including FEMA and military bases, is the purpose of the 8th annual Indian Country Business Summit taking place next week in Norman.
Denise Bowman is a counselor and conference organizer at the Tribal Government Institute, one of the sponsors of the Indian Country Business Summit. Bowman says sometimes good business is about timing.
“We get a lot of calls on 'how do I do business with the government?’ meaning basically Defense. Then we always get calls after a tornado, "I want to help, how can I do that?' One of the important things is that you have to be there ahead of time,” Bowman said. “You have to already be in the pipeline...so it’s too late when the tornadoes hit.”
The conference’s first general session will teach businesses how to contract with the government and do it better.
“We have a lady coming in from FEMA’s regional office. She came here last year right after the tornadoes and explained to us what it takes to get registered to get FEMA work,” Bowman said.
“We also have people from the Oklahoma State Department of Transportation’s central purchasing. We also have information for people wanting to do business with the tribes,” Bowman said.
“The tribes have their own mechanism with which to do business, the tribes that are bigger,” Bowman said.
“For example Cherokees, Chickasaws, Choctaws have what they call TERO programs. That stands for Tribal Employment Rights Office.
According to Bowman it is through these programs that businesses get on the “bidders list”. Being on these lists means your business has already been checked out and is a preferred vendor.
The first day of the conference will be a teaching day.
“We have a Doing Business With The Military panel which is Tinker Air Force Base, Shepard Air Force Base, Fort Sill, Altus, Vance, Corps of Engineers,” Bowman said.
Bowman said it’s the on-base people who tell you how to go about doing business with the base, who the buyers are and who is the small business liaison there.
“That's good information, you don't get to start without knowing who to talk to,” Bowman said.
Along the same line will be a presentation on how to do business with the Veterans Administration.
“We will have matchmaking the second day,” Bowman said. Bowman said the main benefits gained from the conference are contacts and networking.
“This is where our attendees get an eight minute session with each individual purchasing agency, or prime contractor or tribal purchasing agent to basically give them their elevator speech and hand them their capability statement,” Bowman said.
“The best thing they walk away with is contacts; they have a name, a number and where they go to get started,” Bowman said.
Bowman said once they have that information they can work with everyone and every department in any given agency. “It’s not contracts so much as it is contacts,” Bowman said.
The 8th Annual Indian Country Business Summit takes place August 26 and 27 at the Embassy Suites in Norman.
Documentary Film On "Urban Indian 5" Creating Art With A Cause
Steve Barse, Matt’s father, is now retired from the Indian Health Service. It was some years ago when he worked at the Oklahoma City Indian Health Clinic that the idea of auctioning off native artist’s work to raise money came about and then sort of backfired.
“The bids were so low it was almost an insult to the artists that had donated their work,” Barse said.
But it was through that experience that the idea of “art with a cause” was realized. The artists involved became the Urban Indian 5. It is made up of Gerald Cournoyer, Shan Goshorn, Brent Greenwood, Thomas Poolaw and Holly Wilson.
The Urban Indian 5 say in their mission statement that they promote Indian health and wellness through art, traditional ceremony and symbology.
Barse’s involvement fueled his son to work on a documentary about the process of these artists. The title was inspired by one of the featured artist’s work.
“The painting is intriguing, it’s by Tom Poolaw,” Barse said.
"I Said I'd Never Paint This Way Again…we thought about that title,” Barse said.
“That's kind of in essence what all the artists are doing also. Meaning that if they didn't before, they now paint with the intention to inspire wellness,” Barse said.
“Not to cure anybody but to inspire, maybe subconsciously inspiring some traditional thought patterns that have been in the past,” Barse said. “That sounds kind of touchy-feely but it’s not. Indians understand that world and so it’s not just some cute little thing. We believe that hanging this art in every clinic in the IHS three state area, and beyond, will be quite a benefit to Indian people.”
Barse is struck by current statistics that, in his words, put Native Americans “in the lead in all negative health statistics.”
“I got to thinking if we're ever going to resolve this, it’s going to take a total effort,” Barse said.
Barse feels relying entirely on medical treatment is not the whole answer. It must include native traditions and culture.
“You know some people resist that, they’ve been conditioned to think it’s a bad thing. It’s not a bad thing, in fact it’s a very good thing. We promote that, as a group, the artists as a group promote that. Getting re-involved in ceremony or accessing it or whatever that might mean to that person,” Barse said.
Matt Barse’s documentary "I Said I'd Never Paint This Way Again” will show at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History next Thursday at 7 p.m.
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