Those rednecks who persist in perpetuating the negative stereotypes of Native people should have been in Toronto at the Native Business Summit.
The week-long event was a glorious celebration of Native talent, energy and
Whatever the summit may have cost was well worth the investment, for the hundreds of Native businessmen and women in attendance provided massive living
proof of what Native people can and will continue to accomplish.
Moreover, the stories they told of their struggle to achieve their goals were
an inspiring testimony to their determination in the face of fierce obstacles.
It is clear from their stories that Native people have not only had to overcome
the usual difficulties facing people attempting to develop businesses, but have had the additional burden of overcoming the deeply ingrained negative view of Native people
held by business community - particularly financial institutions.
The growing success of Native entrepreneurs is forcing a major and rapid change in those attitudes, creating an increasingly receptive climate for Native peoples in business in the future.
One of the most exciting benefits of the summit was the opportunity it provided for individuals to exchange information, put together business deals and develop beneficial business alliances. The value of that aspect of the event alone, according to informed sources, is likely in the millions of dollars.
And the business aspect was only open of the summit's positive results.
An art gallery featuring more than 200 Native artists from across Canada - the largest exhibit of Native art ever assembled in Canada - was a spectacular tribute to marvellous talent.
A stunning fashion show featuring the creations of Native designers was an impressive showcase for clothing ranging from traditional designs to the most innovative and contemporary attire.
Native performers also had their moment of glory in a concert headlined by Buffy Sainte-Marie, and featuring such diverse talent as singer Curtis (Shingoose) Jonnie, singer and storyteller Alanis Obomsawin, comedian Charlie Hill and fiddle champion Lee Creemo.
Native people could not help but be proud.
And no one could deny their right to that pride.