As nearly everyone is attentive, there are sobering economic statistics facing our country at the present time. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the current unemployment rate in the United States is 9.6 percent (August 2009), and the unemployment rate for Native Americans is generally believed to be at least two times the national rate (according to the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development). Some sources estimate the figure of Native American unemployment to be as high as eighty or ninety percent in some states.

Thus, in the current untrustworthy state of the American national economy, it is our opportunity as Native Americans to embrace these statistics as an impetus for change. In light of the fact that a lack of capital is often cited as an obstacle in the formation of Native American businesses, the creation of small businesses can be an effective answer.

Small business growth is vital to the reinstatement of our economy, through the creation of local jobs and the stimulation of local economy. And if we consider that within the demographic of the Native American and Alaska Natives we have over two million opportunities for new small businesses, we have the prospect of truly influencing the American economy in an extremely positive way.

"Small and minority-owned businesses must play a momentous role in our efforts to restore economic growth. Small businesses employ half of the nation's private sector workforce; create a large share of the Nation's new jobs; and introduce many groundbreaking ideas into the marketplace," said President Barack Obama in October 2009.

Let us hold tightly to our heritage while we boldly reach for the future, with our inventiveness, innovation, and inspiration to guide us. With peace and perseverance, we as a nation will triumph over these trials, just as we have in the past.


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