Native Marketplace, July in Asheville!

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Hello Friends! Wow, what a week it has been! Team ONABEN presented three youth art camps to three different schools in Oklahoma in coordination with our contract with the Mvskoke Loan Fund, a CDFI affiliated with the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. I love working with youth! Have I ever mentioned that? If not, well I do. Youth projects are probably at the top of my list. Why? Well, that’s easy. The youth are the future of tomorrow, so how can we not invest in them? Wado and Mvto (thank you in Cherokee and Creek) to the Mvskoke Loan Fund for understanding the importance of youth projects, and an even bigger thanks for including ONABEN and its team in your work.

The workshops consisted of two days of artist entrepreneurship activities. Art played a central role in the agenda. What kind of business topics can you learn in two days? The basics, really. We covered the importance of logo and design, naming your business, creating effective mission statements, basic financial management and marketing! Best of all? The students were able to be both artistic and interactive. We have had too much fun this week! The students were insanely creative and so inspiring. I love them all.

One of the students in our workshop is very athletic and perhaps because of his dominance in this area never really recognized his creative potential. Being a lover of words, I recognized his ability immediately. Art takes all forms, not just pen and paper or paints or chalk. Before this workshop, this young man thought that sports would be the direction that his whole life will take. To this young man I say the sky is the limit. Companies pay lots of money to professionals not nearly as skilled as you at slogans! Embrace your communicative side Damon; it might take you further and higher than you ever realized is possible!

Two, short days after the last camp for the week, I find myself in Asheville, North Carolina, with my seven year-old daughter Braley in tow. As we landed, a thought occurred to me. I was seven the first time I came to North Carolina, and my, how I loved it….still do.

BraleyAshevillePost Veronica Asheville

Today, I met with the Asheville Art Museum to discuss our Native Marketplace in July. It was a very productive meeting! The museum staff is amazing and this partnership may be the most lucrative that we have established in this area for our Authentically Cherokee Artists. I’m so excited, this year’s event will be even more amazing than our first! Looking for something totally cool and culturally enlightening to do this summer? Come see us at the Asheville Art Museum July 11th!

Oh, my! The fun that my little lady and I have had! We’ve bought chocolate and ATE chocolate and enjoyed farm to table food from some of my favorite places in Asheville. We have embraced art and admired the talent that fills the streets of downtown. And, we have enjoyed this time together. I am so thankful for the opportunity to share my work with my children. My grandmother included me in her work at seven, and look where it led me. Life sometimes comes to a complete circle. My grandmother and her love of art and artists would shape the course of my life. But, at seven, I had no idea. As I introduce Braley to different places and new cultures, I find myself wondering where her life will take her. Whatever the direction, I believe that the inclusion of our Native American heritage will forever follow her. Tomorrow she gets to meet the artists in Cherokee that have come to mean so much to me. I cannot wait. I know that she will love them as much as I do. And, that my friends, might be the imprint that lasts a lifetime…It did with me.


Thank you, grandma for the direction that you sent me. I wonder if you knew then how your work would inspire me? Somehow, I think that you did. As I look back upon yesterday, my heart is filled with so many emotions. What a magical journey to share with you, Lucille Walker (AKA grandma) From Oklahoma to Alabama to Tennessee to North Carolina, you changed my life. What a gift. It never leaves me and even after all of these years fills my mind with wonder and my soul with happiness.

“Talk” Soon, V.



Michael Bridges

Michael Bridges

Michael is a proud U.S. Army Veteran and a member of the Cherokee Nation. With 10 years of service as an Infantryman, Michael implements the core values of integrity, honor, and selfless service into his leadership of the company. With over 20 years of experience, Michael began working with building websites and graphic design in 1998. A family-oriented man, Michael enjoys spending time with his wife Kristina and their three children. He is a proud and active member of Jenks Lodge #497 A.F. & A.M. and an advisor for the Order of DeMolay.