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Successful Native American Entrepreneurs Who Help Others

A descendant of Mohawk Nation and trained in anthropology, Patty has researched and reported on indigenous peoples for over four decades.

Seminole Family in Cyress, Florida in 1916. Colorful attire has become popular with tourists in purchases from the Seminole peoples.

Seminole Family in Cyress, Florida in 1916. Colorful attire has become popular with tourists in purchases from the Seminole peoples.

Seminole Peoples

The Seminole Nations and African-Americans form groups composed of

  1. Miccosukee people
  2. Muskogee (Muskoki) peoples
  3. Descendants of the black Africans that escaped slavery and joined the tribe.

This group of Native Americans aided the welfare of escaping black slaves hundreds of years ago, as did Cherokee Nation and some other Native Americans. By adopting blacks into their own tribe, the Seminole offered a type of freedom, along with an opportunity for life as a tribal member, and later, to some in tribal and member-owned businesses.

The Everglades Miccosukee Tribe of Seminole Indians Constitution is locates at Constitution.

This federally recognized group of Native Americans planned for success. As early as 1959, the group became recognized in a treaty as "Miccosukee Seminole Nation" by Cuba. In Florida, Seminole Nation owns a successful Hard Rock Cafe. Recently, the Seminole Indian News was reactivated to join the Seminole Tribune newspaper.

The Seminole Nation Department of Commerce in Oklahoma has earned a rating of four stars out of five stars possible for being a good place to work, according to surveys complied by GlassDoor and Indeed.com. The company promotes and operates a number of social justice programs.

A typically well made Seminole Coiled Sweet Grass Basket.

A typically well made Seminole Coiled Sweet Grass Basket.

The separate Seminole Tribe of Florida, Inc. is a Native American group dedicated to business operations and development under leadership of the Tribal Council under their own Constitution.

Headquartered in Hollywood, Florida, they state that they are the most successful business people among Native Americans in that they own the Sheraton Tampa East Hotel, a number of gaming establishments, large numbers of cattle, citrus groves, museums, tobacco shops, and other businesses.

Black Africans and African-American descendants have enjoyed participation in these interests within both constitutional tribes in Florida.

Related History

Blackfoot/Blackfeet Nation

The Originals

The Blackfeet call themselves Niitsapi, the Original People, and live on 1,500,000 acres of prairie lands. Members of other tribes and some non-Native people live with them and enjoy the hospitable nature of the Blackfeet.

The Blackfeet Nation owns many successful businesses and its members own many more companies, both on and off the reservation.

Blackfeet or Blackfoot Nation in USA and Canada.

Blackfeet or Blackfoot Nation in USA and Canada.

Around the world, almost 86,000 people report full- or part-Blackfeet heritage and their registered tribal roles make them one of the largest Native American Nations in North America.

Living on original lands for around 10,000 years, the tribe usually calls itself Blackfeet in Montana and Blackfoot in Canada.

The Blackfeet Nation owns many successful businesses and its members own many more companies, both on and off the reservation.

The Blackfeet are successful business people, which they attribute to the refusal to fail, supported by strong family and tribal ties and actions. How successful are they? With literally hundreds of businesses, the Blackfeet are leaders among Native North Americans in business and economic growth among:

  1. Oil and natural gas leases on reservation lands provide revenue and jobs.
  2. Aviation
  3. Fine Arts
  4. Tourism
  5. Entertainment
  6. Education
  7. Other goods and services

The Nation Supports Many Charities

This tribal group supports and accepts outside support for a number of charities, including the following projects and more:

  • 4-H Clubs in Montana
  • Blackfeet Buffalo Horse Coalition
  • Blackfeet Community College
  • Blackfeet Indian Land Conservation
  • Blackfeet Opportunities, Inc.
  • Blackfeet Youth Development Program
  • Blackfeet Youth Mentorship Enterprise
  • Indian National Finals Rodeo
  • Museum of the Plains Indian Artist
  • Young Eagles Senior Center

A Favorite Business

A Blackfeet Writing Company pen is one of the best stick pens you can find.

We used them in the 1960s and 1970s in school, because they never left a pesky smeared blob of ink at the beginning or the end of a word like some other pens did.

Available throughout the decade of the 1960s from the Blackfeet Nation and distributed to retail outlets such as Walgreen's and through some USAF Post Exchanges, Blackfeet pens, pencils, markers and related items became the products of an actual factory founded in 1972. The plant operated until the end of the century and closed down.

From time to time, new production of pencils and pens is listed on the Internet as a fund raiser for youth (I last spotted an announcement in 2007), but these items are available on eBay rather consistently. Blackfeet Nation bought out the Lindy Pen Company in the 1990s and moved to Montana to do business until closure.

Other businesses have more than replaced the nation's income from pens and pencils, although many consumers would like the plant to be reopened.

Blackfeet Tribal Recognition

  • The Blackfeet run an initiative that aims to curb harmful effects of alcohol in Indian country. During January 2012, a reservation program against harmful effects of alcohol received recognition from the FBI. The number of drunken driving violations on the reservation declined from 484 in 2009 to 199 in 2010, reduced by over half.

Blackfeet Business

  • Blackfoot Movie Mill. 369 West Bridge Street; Blackfoot, Idaho
  • Blackfeet Nation Businesses in Browning, Montana
  • Siyeh manages Blackfeet Enterprises in Browning Montana:109 N Public Square, Browning MT 59417. The Syeh Corporation manages the umbrella Blackfeet Tribal Enterprises companies within the Blackfeet Indian Reservation adjacent to Glacier National Park. Harvard University and the U.S. Federal Government are involved in strengthening this enterprise.

Ojibwe Nation

An Ojibwe/Chippewa, David Anderson is the man who founded the successful Famous Dave's BBQ restaurants in Minnesota.

During 2004, Mr. Anderson was named Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Indian Affairs. This gave him the chance to help native communities improve and prosper under increasing economic pressures. He operates a nonprofit called the "LifeSkills Center for Leadership" to help at-risk youth.

Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara (MHA) Nation

MHA Fights Drug Abuse

According to the Flathead Beacon in August 2018, Blackfeet Nation filed a lawsuit against five different prescription drug manufacturers and three wholesale drug distributors because of an opioid addiction epidemic on the reservation and across America.

North Dakota Oil and Gas: The Three Affiliated Tribes. This is a Mandan and Arikara delegation. Six Indians with three escorts (back row), 1874.

North Dakota Oil and Gas: The Three Affiliated Tribes. This is a Mandan and Arikara delegation. Six Indians with three escorts (back row), 1874.

A Native North American Oil Boom

Mandan-Hidatsa-Arikara Nation owns the massive oil and natural gas rights on the large Fort Berthold Reservation (e.g. oil boom towns Williston and New Town in North Dakota). The Bakken Oil Field reportedly holds enough oil to fuel all of North America for a century.

The tribal group is still intereste4d in conservation, however, because they partner with Horry-Georgetown Technical College and the US Federal Government to allow forestry and wildlife students to work on the reservation as interns.

Forth Berthold MHA Reservation. The large body of water is Lake Sakakawea.

Forth Berthold MHA Reservation. The large body of water is Lake Sakakawea.

Already refining additional oil coming down from Alberta Province in Canada via pipeline, the MHA tribe received a new oil refinery constructed just west of Makoti ND along Route 23 in 2012. This is near the active Enbridge Pipelines and Canadian Pacific Rail Line.

The jobs open on reservation lands are increasing in numbers and open to anyone qualified, with many non-Natives being hired. Tribal leaders have been advocating for additional construction of additional living spaces for new workers since 2010.

From Summer 2008 to Autumn 2011, the MHA Nation spent $15,000,000 on infrastructure that included new roads. An International Energy Summit was held by the MHA Energy Division in early February 2012 to discuss and plan oil and natural gas extraction, oil and gas sales, and improving the quality of life for Native and non-Native residents of North Dakota.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Patty Inglish MS


Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on February 04, 2012:

Daneiella - I love to write about these types of topics, especially after I learned of family members that were Native. Thanks!

Angela - I have great respect for the Medicine Man and know that his ways are sometimes more effective that allopathic medicine. It's a great pleasure to know that you are with a Medicine Man.

drbj - I read in a newsletter that a govt-sponsored 3rd nation was attempting to emerge as well and will keep my eye on it. Thanks fr the comment.

drbj and sherry from south Florida on February 03, 2012:

Thanks, Patty, for this revealing and interesting infromation about the Seminole Nations and African Americans. Even though I live in Florida - home of the Seminoles - I was not aware that there were two distinct Seminole nations. Who knew? Not me until now.

Angela Blair from Central Texas on February 03, 2012:

It's encouraging to read about Native Americans overcoming the roadblocks they've encountered from so many directions. My significant other is a Medicine Man of the Lakota/Sioux Nation -- I'm referring him to your Hub as he always takes pleasure in Indian business success stories. Great read and voted up. Best, Sis

Daniella Lopez on February 03, 2012:

Fantastic hub. It's quite impressive how successful many tribes have been. I have really been enjoying your hubs on Native Americans and I hope to see more from you on the topic in the future. Voted up!

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on February 03, 2012:

Donna - I still purchase the pens at some flea markets and "collectibles" shows. Someone out there still has some stock. They are my favorites!

Nan - I think you're right, except in the case of the Mohawk, Oneida and Seneca in the Northeast that owned black slaves and some intermarried.

Fantastic comments!

Nan Mynatt from Illinois on February 03, 2012:

Thanks for the information on the early Indian Tribes. Yes there was intermarriage between the Indians and Africans, I thought mostly in the southern states.

Donna Cosmato from USA on February 03, 2012:

This is fascinating information on these tribes and their ingenuity and entrepreneurship. The information on the Blackfeet writing pen was especially interesting, and I plan to check it out.

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