Gonzaga professor contributes to business book for Native Americans, by Native Americans

Gonzaga professor contributes to business book for Native Americans, by Native Americans

Gonzaga professor Daniel Stewart, Ph.D., who teaches entrepreneurship and directs the Hogan Entrepreneurial Leadership Program in the Gonzaga University School of Business Administration, has contributed to the textbook “American Indian Business: Principles and Practices.”

Stewart, a member of the Spokane Tribe of Indians, said the book was written for Native Americans by Native Americans. He co-authored the chapter titled “American Indian Entrepreneurship” with Charles F. Harrington and Carolyn Birmingham, and authored the chapter “Business Strategy: Building Competitive Advantage in American Indian Firms.”

Published by University of Washington Press (2017), the book is designed for colleges on and off reservations to teach individual business owners, Stewart said.

“There’s only a handful of American Indian professors in business schools and we’re the core group, at least in management,” Stewart said. “We’ve always wanted to do something like this and now that four of us are tenured we thought that the time was right to finally put together a book that focuses on economic development at the level of the businesses themselves.”

Unlike other books that tend to address Native American economic development from a broad perspective, this text focuses more on individuals rather than tribal government, Stewart said. The book involves modern business management but also references historical practices because they remain relevant.

“There’s a collection of smaller colleges, called tribal colleges, a lot of them focus on associate degrees,” Stewart said. “And tribal colleges tend to be located either on reservations or really close to reservations.”

Besides tribal colleges, schools including Gonzaga, the University of Washington and several others are using or planning to use the text, he said, adding the book also acts as a contribution to recovering the economies of the reservations and maintaining the sovereignty of the tribes.

“One path for tribes and tribal members to actually achieve sovereignty is to understand and manage their own businesses,” Stewart said. “The more you understand about business and increase your odds of having successful businesses, the less dependent you stay on government resources, which allows you to step up and exercise sovereignty and self-determination.”

Other subjects covered in the book include history of Native American business, business law on reservations, legal forms of organization, tribal finance and economic development, Indian gaming, leadership practices, business ethics and values, health, human resources, service management for customers, and marketing.

Stewart said the textbook tries to incorporate discussions of culture throughout.

“In my chapters, I focused on ‘You have culture, is it a resource? If it’s a resource, how can you use it?'” Stewart said. “And other authors talk about maintaining the culture, or how to do you organize differently as Native American firms compared to mainstream firms.”

One chapter, “Coyote Learns to Manage a Health Program,” illuminates a modern program through the tradition of a coyote story used culturally to transmit wisdom.

Profits from the book will support the Ph.D. Project, a foundation that helps pay for and encourage future generations of minority business students to attain doctorates and mentor future leaders.

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