Inno-NATIONS: A Business Cohort Where I Felt Safe

Guest Contribution By: Lady Yazzie

I was running in 113-degree heat at 3:43 pm, in Phoenix, AZ. I should have been there at 3:30 p.m., but the traffic and parking were my greatest obstacle. Already behind schedule trying to get to 1 North 1st Street for Inno-NATIONS Tribal Collision Community, who was having their first business cohort. I walked in and quickly said, “Hi! I’m sorry I’m late!” As I took my seat, I looked around the room, not knowing a soul, except for one. Traci Morris, whom I met previously this year and is the founder of Inno-NATIONS. As I sat in my uncomfortableness for a while longer and I thought to myself, “Well girl, you decided to take a chance. You can’t let your anxiety get the best of you.” As soon as the last person came in, we got down to business. For the next 3 days, we’re going to be very intense and challenging.

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Lady Yazzie in front, along with Adrian Dotson and Kristen Dorsey participating in Inno-NATIONS Tribal Business training cohort.

As part of the first homework assignment, it was stated as Indigenous peoples, being an entrepreneur is embedded in our DNA, from how we use the land to how we interacted with our neighboring tribes. I kept this mind during the next 3 days of the training. Our first day was about storytelling and learn how to pitch our business. We had two speakers tell us about their journey about how they started their business or who the business life came to them. Like many of us entrepreneurs, it just kind of happen. We had ideas and we took those ideas and made them a reality. Day two, we covered topics on reservation capitalism: traditional and new entrepreneurship, business model canvas and Indigenous innovation. The last day it was covered customer discovery, financial training, and strategic planning.

As I sit here reflecting on what my experience was all that keeps coming to mind is how intense it was but every ounce of it was full filling and exciting. Despite being an entrepreneur for over 3 years, I never realized there are many things to take into account when you start your own business. I believe this training was what I needed to redirect my business goals and to offer advice and guidance to other entrepreneurs, as well. Each of the topics was covered in a way that I felt safe in. I know “safe” is a strange word to use, however, it fits. It fits because this business cohort focuses on taking on non-indigenous viewpoint and turn them into indigenous viewpoints. I think if this wasn’t the case, the massive information I received wouldn’t have impacted me the way it did. I probably would have been more overwhelmed and my anxiety would have kicked into overdrive. I think everything that was covered in this training should be done at all employment orientations, to be honest. That is how useful this information was to me. I can’t help but think maybe if I knew this 3 years ago, I wouldn’t have adjusted much quickly and efficiently to the obstacles I faced.

In conclusion, Inno-NATIONS Tribal Collision Community is the best thing that has happened to me this yar. I made new connections, friends, and colleagues. We all share the same goal in becoming successful with our gifts, whatever that may be. Lastly, I highly recommend attending the next business cohort if you get the chance, you won’t be disappointed.

Special Thanks to all who participated:

Kristin Dorsey
Marian Declay
Adrian Dotson
Kelsey Haaka
Rykelle Kemp
Candice Mendez
Delvan Polelonema

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