Jodi Rave: Indian business leaders inspire
"Vina Little Owl took center stage Thursday during the American Indian Business Leaders annual fundraising luncheon where she stood - and later danced - as a shining example of how business education and tribal culture can be used for the economic good of the community.

“With a new generation of hybrid Indians who merge education with tradition, I believe change for the better is now a viable option in the foreseeable future,” said Little Owl, who joined AIBL, a Missoula-based national nonprofit organization, while she was a student at the University of Montana.

Dressed in traditional dance regalia, Little Owl spoke before a business-minded crowd of 240 people during the organization's fifth annual fundraiser. The young woman shared her story of how AIBL leaders inspired her to earn a bachelor's degree in accounting. Her education and business ventures with AIBL helped her land a corporate auditor's job with Nike Inc. in Oregon.

“This is an example of what AIBL can do,” said Dave Archambault of Sitting Bull College in Fort Yates, N.D., AIBL's board president. “Now she can go back to her reservation and make a difference.”

That's exactly what Little Owl, who is from the Fort Belknap Reservation, is doing. She moved back home where she works as an auditor and serves as a board member for tribal business investments.

AIBL aims to develop the entrepreneurial spirit in young people across the country. Today there are more than 50 AIBL active chapters in high schools, tribal colleges and universities, ranging from Big Sky High School in Missoula to Sitting Bull College in North Dakota to Harvard University. The fastest growth segment is coming from kindergarten to 12th-grade students."

Get the Story:
Jodi Rave: American Indian Business Leaders: Entrepreneurial inspiration (The Missoulian 12/5)

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