Winnebago tribal executive profiled in People
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FRIDAY, MARCH 29, 2002

NATIVE SON: Lance Morgan, chief executive officer of Ho-Chunk Inc., shown here at a National Congress of American Indians conference in 2000. File Photo NSM.

What is Lance Morgan, a member of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska and head of the tribe's economic development corporation, doing alongside stars like Halle Berry, Denzel Washington and Julia Roberts?

Being one of People's "crusaders."

Featured in a special double issue of the magazine hitting the stands today, the 33-year-old Morgan gets a short but sweet two-page profile of his efforts to bring success to northeastern Nebraska. Past the big spread on the Oscar's, readers will find "Native Son," a description of how Ho-Chunk Inc. grew from a small tribal business to a $50 million economic enterprise with holdings as diverse as convenience stores, hotels, web sites and a home-building firm.

The story is familiar to many in Indian Country, as tribal leaders have come to the Winnebago Reservation to learn how to replicate the good fortune. Now, the magazine's estimated readership of 3.5 million can get a glimpse of how Morgan has helped propel his tribe into national prominence.

"People have hope," tribal chairman John Blackhawk tells the magazine, "and that has a snowball effect."

A 1993 graduate of Harvard Law School, Blackhawk recruited Morgan, recounts People. Tribal leaders foresaw a need to expand their dollars beyond a casino, located on trust land in Iowa. They provided $50,000 in seed money to start Ho-Chunk Inc., named after the traditional term for the Winnebago people.

Since then, it's been steady growing as Morgan has diversified the tribe's businesses, including AllNative.Com and Indianz.Com. Along the way, the corporation has picked up prestigious awards from Harvard University and accolades for a gasoline tax compact with the state of Nebraska.

And unemployment has dropped from 70 percent to 20 percent in the last decade. "It's hard to put a monetary value on that," he says of the greater impact.

For his part, Morgan says was motivated by what he calls a need to do something for his tribe. "I felt like I could make more of a different in my community," he tells the magazine.

Growing up poor off the reservation in Omaha, Nebraska, People gives readers some of Morgan's business acumen: selling snow cones at pow-wows and helping his father's roofing business. Television, it turns out, gave him role models in Alex Keaton of the sitcom Family Times ("That was me. I aspired to be a Republican.") and later, L.A. Law.

Now, Morgan has made ties of his own. He and wife, Erin, have two daughters -- Emma, 3, and Alaina, 1 -- and live a few miles outside of the reservation. People spent a couple of days with Morgan and family at their home and at the Winnebago tribe's offices.

The April 8 issue of People Weekly is on stands today.

Relevant Links:
The Winnebago Tribe -
AllNative.Com -
People Magazine -,10872,,00.html

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