By Felecia Freeman, Citizen Potawatomi Community Development Corporation Commercial Loan Officer

The American Indian Chamber of Commerce of Oklahoma held their annual business summit, The Gathering 2018, at the Choctaw Casino & Resort in early October. The group’s mission is to advocate, educate and connect the Native American business community to advance economic opportunities throughout Oklahoma. In dedication to that mission, the conference offered a vendor trade show, sessions on funding, branding and marketing, and methods of protecting Native American small businesses. The business matchmaking event was a highlight of this year’s summit. Attendees met with representatives from preferred vendors, suppliers and Tribal Employment Rights Office programs to learn how they could best grow their businesses.

Choctaw Royalty participate in the Gathering 2018 Business Summit ribbon cutting ceremony with AICCO leadership. Left to right: Kreg Haney, eastern chapter president; Jason Holuby, member; Annetta Abbott, executive director; Bailey Walker, president; Ethan Beshirs, member; Russell Tucker, treasurer; Dean Turner, member; and Felecia Freeman, secretary.

The Citizen Potawatomi Community Development Corporation is a proud sponsor of the event and the AICCO. I have served on the AICCO state board since 2016, and CPCDC CEO Shane Jett is an advisory board member for the organization. Our partnership for the AICCO has played a vital part in the CPCDC’s mission of assisting and funding the development of tribal business ventures in Oklahoma.

A division of the AICCO is the Leadership Native Oklahoma program. Like similar leadership programs at the state and municipal level, this Oklahoma-wide leadership program is specifically designed for Native American citizens. Members from Oklahoma’s 39 federally recognized tribal nations who are selected for the program attend seven monthly classes. These sessions include a two-day team-building retreat, a two-day “Indianpreneiurship” class and meetings with tribal officials and leaders. As part of the summit, we honored the 2018 LNO graduates. Amongst those honored were two Tribal members from our own Citizen Potawatomi Nation.

Linda Arredondo, director of
information technology for Citizen Potawatomi Nation, is a descendant of the Young family.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to represent the Citizen Potawatomi Nation while completing the Leadership Native Oklahoma program sponsored by AICCO,” Arredondo said. “It was such a wonderful opportunity to forge professional relationships that will stand the test of time.”

Greemore family descendant Brent Rush is a community relations advisor for Enbridge, an energy delivery company.

“I was excited to participate in the 2018 Leadership Native Oklahoma class,” Rush said. “I really enjoyed meeting new people and learning more about Native American issues and how we can work together to improve the quality of life for everyone in Oklahoma. At Enbridge, our relationships with Native American governments and organizations are critical. I am fortunate to have the support from within Enbridge to actively engage in programs like Leadership Native Oklahoma.”

If you are an aspiring or current Native American small business owner in search of financing or commercial strategy planning, please consider reaching out to us at the Citizen Potawatomi Community Development Corporation. We are dedicated to helping our clients manage innovation while focusing on the future through continuous improvement planning. To learn more, visit or call 405-878-4697.

If you’re a business owner and citizen of a federally recognized tribe, I highly encourage you to learn more about the American Indian Chamber of Commerce Oklahoma at