ONABEN’s exciting work in North Dakota!

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Hello, friends, colleagues and partners! I hope this email finds each of you enjoying the changing seasons. The weather is brisk in Oklahoma, and before long no green will be left on the trees. I wanted to provide a quick update on ONABEN’s work – I love the ability to share our adventures with you on our website through images, video, and story!

At the latter part of October, Team ONABEN traveled to Belcourt, North Dakota, to provide an entrepreneurial training to our friends on the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Reservation. It is always a pleasure to see how the entrepreneurs and small business owners that we have met are growing their businesses and expanding their networks!

Our training topic covered a couple of aspects of marketing. Specifically, our team talked about the positive impact that networking can have on a business, and how devices like cell phones and tablets can aid in a business owner’s ability to market their products and services. ONABEN approaches every training with the idea that our learning platforms are a great way to promote the idea of peer learning. The “floor” is open. Information exchange is encouraged, and it was a great training!


On our very first trip to Belcourt, our team met Amy, an aspiring entrepreneur with the dream of owning and operating her own restaurant! I create connections with many of the entrepreneurs and business owners that we work with, but Amy and I had a special connection. She is Cherokee and originally from Oklahoma. We hit it off immediately! Amy continues to attend ONABEN’s events in Belcourt. What’s changed in a year? Well, Amy is no longer aspiring…she has realized her business dream. Amy worked with the Turtle Mountain CDFI to obtain a business loan, and now owns and operates a restaurant! Talk about ambition and determination! It is exciting to see Amy busy in the kitchen and waiting on customers. What’s even more exciting….tasting the food!


Just like Amy, ONABEN has made a few other friends local to the Belcourt area. I was thrilled to see Jamie, a local construction company owner at our last event! Jamie is a great example of the power of small business. He tells his story…the good parts and the bad parts. He shares knowledge….he has a degree in marketing and he understands his audience…so he is a great resource. And, best of all, he gives back to the community. With every business transaction that Jamie completes he gives a percentage back to a youth program, sponsored by one of our local partners, Pathways to Prosperity! I love it….very socially entrepreneurial!

I leave the communities that we serve feeling energized and hopeful. There is so many great examples of innovation and determination across Indian Country. Our team is honored to be a part of such great work! Next week, our team travels back to Molokai’, Hawaii. Another adventure awaits!

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.