Tribal Business = Dealing With a Foreign Country
“Anyone looking to do business in Indian country has to understand that it’s like doing business with a foreign nation,” said state Senator Albert Hale D-Winslow and former president of the Navajo Nation. “The people, languages, customs, laws and courts are all different and each tribe is considered to be a sovereign nation.”
A recent two-day conference held in Phoenix brought together some 425 tribal members and developers covering the legal, cultural and practical issues of building and construction factors involved in the business.
This was a chance for the Native community to educate builders about tribal ways of doing business and an opportunity for contractors and developers to find out about construction management, taxes, transportation and other factors involved in the business.
There were issues pertaining to sovereign immunity. Indian tribes have the right to make their own laws and govern themselves but outside developers often want the tribes to put aside some of their rights so potential conflicts can be resolved outside the tribal community.
Differences of opinion do arise. Hale believes sovereign rights should never be conceded and thinks one should not expect a dispute in an Indian nation to be settled anywhere else but within that nation.
An attorney for the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, Charleen Greer said many tribes agree to partial waiving of their rights when they do business on a large scale. In her opinion, “Each tribe can make its own decision.”
SAVVY CASINOS ENTER SPORTS WORLD
Republic reporter Craig Harris writes the Phoenix Suns announce they have sold the gaming rights for 10 years to the arena’s glass enclosed entrance which will be called Casino Arizona Pavilion run by the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Tribe which does not have a sports book.
According to Marc Gannis of the Chicago-based Sportscorp Ltd, whose firm specializes in sports marketing and finance, “As the Native American casinos become more marketing savvy and have a larger marketing budget, they are trying to connect with their core market, which in many cases is the sports fan.”
The basketball team is providing mentorship programs for tribal members through business owned by team investors and each month the team will honor outstanding students and teachers from the Salt River Tribe.
The Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team has a sponsorship with the Gila River Indian Community which promotes its casino.
This column was edited for content and length.
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