facebook app symbol  twitter  linkedin  instagram 1

In a rare moment of bipartisanship, the House of Representatives passed a bill today that will strengthen support for Native American entrepreneurs. 

The Native American Entrepreneurial Opportunity Act, co-sponsored by Rep. Sharice Davids (D-KS) and Rep. Eli Crane (R-AZ), would pave the way for more funding and expanded services for the Office of Native American Affairs (ONAA) at the Small Business Administration. If passed into law, the legislation would codify the ONAA under federal law and establish a new administrative role for the agency. 

Never miss Indian Country’s biggest stories and breaking news. Sign up to get our reporting sent straight to your inbox every weekday morning. 

Currently, the ONAA primarily provides limited outreach efforts utilizing a small staff, and can be unilaterally disbanded at any time. Codification under the above act would protect the ONAA and expand its services to include field offices, tribal consultations, training and counseling, and the ability to make grants.

In turn, that would enable the ONAA to provide crucial support for Native American entrepreneurs at the heart of the office’s mission, according to Davids, a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation and a former tribal economic development executive. 

"Our economy depends on the success of our small businesses. That’s especially true in tribal communities where Native-owned businesses are crucial employers on reservations and their surrounding areas,” Davids said in a statement. “I’m proud that my bill, which breaks down barriers for Native entrepreneurs, passed the House with strong bipartisan support, showing us all that support for Native communities goes beyond party lines.”

Crane echoed the sentiment, saying that codifying the office would improve Native business owners’ ability to “access the SBA’s programs just like anyone else.” 

“These communities don’t currently experience adequate access or outreach,” Crane wrote. “It’s essential that they receive specialized expertise to assist them in navigating the unique complexities of running a business on a reservation — complexities mostly created by the federal government. As the representative for over half of Arizona’s tribes, I’m pleased to see the House pass our bill, which would serve tribal citizens of AZ-02 well.”

The bill still needs to pass the Senate, where it advanced out of committee last year, before it can be sent to the White House for President Joe Biden’s signature. 

More Stories Like This

Native Bidaské with Lyndsay Amato on the #BraidsforCole Movement
Services to Honor Cole Brings Plenty's Life Commence This Weekend in South Dakota
Rep. Tom Cole Set to Lead House Appropriations Committee
Indigenous Communities Rally in #BraidsforCole Movement
Cherokee Nation Celebrates Monday's Eclipse

Native Perspective.  Native Voices.  Native News. 

We launched Native News Online because the mainstream media often overlooks news that is important is Native people. We believe that everyone in Indian Country deserves equal access to news and commentary pertaining to them, their relatives and their communities. That's why the story you’ve just finished was free — and we want to keep it that way, for all readers.  We hope you'll consider making a donation to support our efforts so that we can continue publishing more stories that make a difference to Native people, whether they live on or off the reservation. Your donation will help us keep producing quality journalism and elevating Indigenous voices. Any contribution of any amount — big or small — gives us a better, stronger future and allows us to remain a force for change. Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous-centered journalism. Thank you.

About The Author
Chez Oxendine
Author: Chez OxendineEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Chesley Oxendine (Lumbee-Cheraw) is an Oklahoma-based reporter for Native News Online and its sister publication, Tribal Business News. His journalism has been featured in the Fort Gibson Times, Muskogee Phoenix, Native Oklahoma Magazine, and elsewhere.