Opinion: Long term goals and tribal development
"Our Native communities have survived long enough to see some of our ancient values -- like respect for women and Mother Earth -- fall in line with the ideals of the rest of the world. When I Googled the United Nations' web site, I found a section called "Women Watch," promoting the rights of women. Another header brought me to "The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs." It featured an indigenous people's discussion on the arctic, and related issues of climate change. Clearly, Respect for Women and the Protection of Mother Earth are ancient Native values which are now idealized by the modern global community.

In the business world, however, we have always been hesitant to assert our Native values. Deep down inside, we still assume that business is not our area of expertise. That is a mistake. Nowadays, the light of world opinion shines brightly on corporate greed, making this the perfect time to promote an alternative, Native, business paradigm.

Over the last few centuries, we have successfully adapted to new occupations and enterprises. In my tribe, we traditionally fed our families by working as hunters, fishermen, and planters of corn. We later became carpenters, housekeepers and stone masons. More recently, some tribal citizens have even been educated as lawyers, teachers, nurses and CEOs. What is amazing is not how much our livelihoods have changed, but that we still have people who choose to be hunters, fishermen and planters of corn. We did not lose all of our ancient ways. We only added new ones. That is the strength of Native societies. We do not sacrifice the old for the new. We know that we need old lessons, as well as new ones, to survive over the long term.

In my language we call this longer, broader view of things the Accomac perspective. Accomac literally translates to mean "the long view from across the water," or in more familiar terms, "seeing the forest from the trees." Success in business should depend on an Accomac view. In this essay, I call for a sustainable Native business plan using the Accomac Model in which we look at our businesses with Native eyes, focused on long term goals."

Get the Story:
Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel : The Accomac business model (The Alaska Dispatch 11/4)

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