facebook app symbol  twitter  linkedin  instagram 1

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Companies owned by a pair of Michigan-based Native American tribes are facing what one tribal executive described as “circular exclusion” from the body that certifies Minority Business Enterprises. 

Kurt Trevan

Gun Lake Investments, the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based non-gaming economic development arm of the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi, referred to as the Gun Lake Tribe, was kicked out as a corporate sponsor of the Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council (MMSDC) because it does not allow any minority-owned business to be a sponsor, GLI CEO Kurtis Trevan, said in a report in regional business publication MiBiz

However, when Gun Lake Investments then applied to become certified as a Minority Business Enterprise, the MMSDC denied the application, said Trevan, a citizen of the Gun Lake Tribe.

“We are not permitted to be a corporate sponsor because in MMSDC’s judgment, we are minority owned, but MMSDC will not certify us as minority owned,” Trevan told MiBiz, adding “there’s just artificial or arbitrary obstacles that are being created for us to continue to help us promote our own values and access other diverse companies.”

Meanwhile, Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Waséyabek Development Co., GLI’s counterpart from the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi, similarly applied to have one of its companies certified and says it has received no response from the MMSDC, one of 23 regional offices under the National Minority Supplier Development Council that confers the minority business certification. 

The executives claim the exclusion of tribally owned enterprises, which are clearly minority owned businesses, stems from artificial barriers the MMSDC has put in place that do not exist with other regional councils, which have certified tribally owned companies in neighboring states as Minority Business Enterprises.

“That is not the point for diversity and inclusion,” Waséyabek President and CEO Deidra Mitchell said in the report.

More Stories Like This

American Basketball Association Announces Native ABA Initiative
Four Winds South Bend Upgrades to Class III Gaming Casino
Native News Online Wins Two Awards from Native American Journalists Association
Wahlberg Brothers Are a Big Hit at Indian Gaming Tradeshow and Convention in Las Vegas
Native Gro Offers Tribes a ‘One-Stop Shop’ for Entering the Cannabis Industry

These stories must be heard.

This May, we are highlighting our coverage of Indian boarding schools and their generational impact on Native families and Native communities. Giving survivors of boarding schools and their descendants the opportunity to share their stories is an important step toward healing — not just because they are speaking, but because they are being heard. Their stories must be heard. Help our efforts to make sure Native stories and Native voices are heard in 2024. Please consider a recurring donation to help fund our ongoing coverage of Indian boarding schools. Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous-centered journalism. Thank you.

About The Author
Native News Online Staff
Author: Native News Online StaffEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Native News Online is one of the most-read publications covering Indian Country and the news that matters to American Indians, Alaska Natives and other Indigenous people. Reach out to us at [email protected].