After a four-year hiatus, three students are reviving the ASU chapter of the Native American Business Organization hoping to create a community for Native American students on campus and assist them in networking.
ASU business students Shaandiin Parrish, Lakota Kinlicheenie and Hiram Bowen were connected earlier this year by the Office of American Indian Initiatives, which was created to serve as a liaison between the University and the Tribal nations of Arizona. The students were grouped for the same reasons the club is being revived: similar cultural backgrounds, pursuit of a business degree and passion for helping other Native American students find a sense of belonging.
“We have a shared interest in creating our own group in the business world because there’s a struggle with finding community in the business school as Native American students,” said Kinlicheenie, NABO co-founder and freshman studying general business.
NABO's membership and presence at ASU have ebbed and flowed over the past 40 years with the availability of interested students. A recent lack of Native American students at the W. P. Carey School of Business led to the disbanding of the organization in 2018. In the 2019-20 school year, students from underrepresented communities made up 32% of the business school's student body.
“There are not large numbers of American Indian students in the college of business, so when students graduate, there's not always new leadership to fill the void,” Assistant Vice President of Tribal Relations Jacob Moore said in an email to The State Press. “The COVID pandemic has certainly disrupted the kind of activities and events that student organizations typically do as well.”
Native students need "a professional environment with career and networking opportunities,” said Bowen, freshman economics major and co-founder. “It’s hard to find a place to fit in, and we want to do that for them.”
Parrish, Kinlicheenie and Bowen plan to use the framework previous NABO leaders created to shape their mission for the organization while also reforming it to reflect the current needs of Indigenous students.
“We’ve been in the process of revitalizing NABO through learning the history of the organization while also creating a new vision for NABO and what it looks like in today’s day and age,” said Parrish, a graduate student at the W. P. Carey School of Business and NABO co-founder.
Parrish said she and the co-founders hope to apply what they are learning from the business school to the organization to draw attention to the importance of financial literacy and education in the Indigenous community.
“At W. P. Carey, we are a very small demographic, and it’s important that we make our classmates and our colleagues aware that we are here as Indigenous people,” Parrish said.
The organization is working toward an official relaunch and is in the process of submitting information to Student and Cultural Engagement to become a recognized as an official organization. Toward the end of April, they plan to further develop the organization by creating specific leadership positions and forming a social media presence to connect with students and other Native American organizations at ASU.
Students who have an interest in joining the organization can follow them on Instagram or reach out over email with any questions.
“At the end of the day, the Native American Business Organization is student driven,'' Parrish said. “It's going to change as the years change to meet the needs of our Native American students as they come and go.”
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Sadie Buggle is the Editor of the State Press Opinion Desk. This is her third semester working for the State Press after two semesters reporting for the Community and Culture Desk.