After a four-year hiatus, three students revive the Native American Business Organization’s ASU chapter in hopes of creating a community for Native American students on campus and helping them network.
ASU business students Shaandiin Parrish, Lakota Kinlicheenie and Hiram Bowen were connected earlier this year by the Office of American Indian Initiatives, which was created to act as a liaison between the University and the tribal nations of the ‘Arizona. The students were brought together for the same reasons the club is being reborn: similar cultural backgrounds, the pursuit of a business degree, and a passion for helping other Native American students find a sense of belonging.
“We have a common interest in starting our own group in the business world because it’s hard to find community in business school as Native American students,” said Kinlicheenie, co-founder of NABO and a student of first year in general business.
NABO’s membership and presence at ASU has fluctuated over the past 40 years with the availability of interested students. A recent lack of Native American students at the WP Carey School of Business led to the organization’s disbandment in 2018. In the 2019-2020 school year, students from underrepresented communities made up 32% of the student body from the business school.
“There aren’t a large number of Native American students at the college of commerce, so when the students graduate, there aren’t always new leaders to fill the void,” said the vice-president. deputy chairman of tribal relations, Jacob Moore, in an email to The State Press. “The COVID pandemic has certainly disrupted the type of activities and events that student organizations also typically hold.”
Indigenous students need “a professional environment with career and networking opportunities,” said Bowen, a freshman economics student and co-founder. “It’s hard to find a place to fit in, and we want to do that for them.”
Parrish, Kinlicheenie and Bowen plan to use the framework created by former NABO leaders to shape their mission for the organization while reforming it to reflect the current needs of Indigenous students.
“We have been revitalizing NABO by learning the history of the organization while creating a new vision for NABO and what it looks like today,” said Parrish, a graduate student at WP Carey School of Enterprise. and co-founder of NABO.
Parrish said she and the co-founders hope to apply what they learn from business school to the organization to bring attention to the importance of financial literacy and education in the Indigenous community.
“We at WP Carey are a very small demographic, and it’s important that we let our classmates and colleagues know that we are here as Indigenous people,” Parrish said.
The organization is working on an official relaunch and is in the process of submitting information to student and cultural engagement to become an official recognized organization. Towards the end of April, they plan to further develop the organization by creating specific leadership positions and creating a social media presence to connect with students and other Native American organizations at ASU.
Students interested in joining the organization can follow them on Instagram or contact via email with any questions.
“At the end of the day, the Native American Business Organization is student-driven,” Parrish said. “That will change over the years to meet the needs of our Native American students as they come and go.”
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Sadie Buggle is a full-time reporter for The State Press’s Community and Culture desk. She was previously the editor and chief editor of her high school newspaper.
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