By SHAWN SPRUCE
Google, the world’s most popular website, defines an entrepreneur as a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, taking on financial risk to do so.
Plenty of folks in Cherokee fit this description. In fact, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has a proud tradition of hardworking, successful business people. Students at Cherokee High School will soon have an opportunity to learn more about these enterprising individuals and families as part of an exciting video project managed by Sequoyah Fund in partnership with CHS. The goal is for students to film a documentary that tells the story of economic development on the Qualla Boundary by conducting interviews with local entrepreneurs such as hotel and restaurant owners, contractors, artists, and others who provide a variety of high quality products and services to the community.
CHS Business Teacher, Sharon Bradley, came up with the idea for the documentary several years ago.
“For years I’ve shown videos to my business students about famous American entrepreneurs, like Henry Ford and Bill Gates” explained Bradley. “But I’ve always wondered why we don’t have a video to feature some of our own Cherokee people who can share their business expertise?”
Bradley’s students will perform most of the research for the documentary by creating a timeline that explores an early Native economy based on agriculture and trade, and tracing it to the thriving and diverse entrepreneurial community that exists in and around Cherokee today.
According to Hope Huskey, Program Development Director at Sequoyah Fund, a key objective of the project is for students to gain an appreciation of entrepreneurship as a career choice while celebrating accomplished local business people, both past and present.
“Sequoyah Fund partners closely with Cherokee High School on a number of initiatives designed to inspire entrepreneurial spirit in young people, such as our annual student business plan competition and an experiential business skills curriculum known as Rural Entrepreneurship Through Action Learning” stated Huskey. “So naturally a video that showcases homegrown business is a great way to build on that foundation.”
Funding for the documentary project is made possible through First Nations Development Institute, a Native led non-profit, that offers grants to innovative financial education programs throughout Indian Country. Along with covering basic production costs such as meals, supplies and transportation the $15,000 grant will enable the school to obtain several pieces of much needed equipment for its audio visual lab which can be kept after the project is completed.
“My students are really looking forward to applying their creative skills towards this project” commented CHS Audio-Visual Instructor Rob Johnson. “We’ve got some great ideas for how to handle filming, editing, and other production tasks. We also really appreciate the support from Sequoyah Fund and First Nations.”
For more information on this documentary filmmaking project and other interesting business education programs facilitated by Sequoyah Fund stop by their offices located inside the Ginger Lynn Welch Complex. Also feel free to contact either Shawn Spruce 359-5004 (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Hope Huskey 359-5005 (email@example.com).
Shawn is a consultant for the Sequoyah Fund.