ONABEN’s work in North Dakota with the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa

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Veronica Hix Photo

Greetings from me to you! This week’s post details our training experience on the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Reservation in Belcourt, ND. The ONABEN team provided entrepreneurial services to this community as a result of a grant from the Administration for Native Americans. This community is small, but embraces the entrepreneurial spirit!

As in every community that ONABEN finds its team in, I was overcome with excitement as each of our participants engaged in our training, sharing the intimate details of their business ideas, and their struggles.


This was my first trip to Belcourt in a time of the year in which there wasn’t snow on the ground! The drive from Minot to Belcourt was beautiful….so was the drive from Bismarck to Minot….but, that is another “story.” Let’s just say that the airline we used to fly to North Dakota has a few issues…and, the ONABEN team was re-routed! But, back to Belcourt….our team was mesmerized by fields of yellow flowers. It was picturesque really and provided a sense of nature that I needed after the ordeal with the airlines. Seriously, if you haven’t visited North Dakota in the summer, you should consider it. It was truly lovely.

Our training consisted of a two-day “Indianpreneurship: Journey into Business Planning” event. We spent some time discussing planning, marketing, financial management and basic information relative to understanding credit. The workshop attendees invested in one another through a peer learning activity! Such activities are lots of fun to watch unfold in the classroom, and a valuable learning tool.


The attendees? Well, they were really interesting folks! We had an array of business owners and business ideas in our midst in Belcourt! One business in particular stood out to me.  Jamie Azure, of J. Azure Construction, employs a social entrepreneurship element to every business transaction that he secures.  His method of giving back to the community resonated with me to the point that the ONABEN team will write a feature story on Jamie’s business in the coming weeks. I think Jamie’s model is a great example of how a business can give back to the community and support a social need at the same time. Look for more information to come about Jamie!

Hmmm, what else….awe, yes, have I mentioned that the ONABEN team supports local, small business owners beyond the classroom? That’s right, there is nothing we like more than shopping with our attendees! As our first day of information sharing came to an end, our team found ourselves at the retail storefront of one of our attendees. Did we buy? Of course….it’s not as much fun to just look!

With every visit ONABEN makes to the communities in which we work, our dedication goes beyond our project. We find ourselves committed to the entrepreneurs fully, and overcome with a sense of commitment to the places that are represented by the people that we come to love.

Thank you North Dakota for welcoming us into your community, you have found a place in our hearts.

Look forward to “speaking” to you again 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.