Highlight – Lockhart selected for Native Communities Cooperative Development cohort

Nov 7, 2022 | Highlights

SAULT STE MARIE, Mich., November 7, 2022 –The Native American Agriculture Fund (NAAF) and the Cooperative Development Foundation (CDF) are proud to announce the selection of Sault Tribe citizen, David Lockhart, as a member of their newest cohort. The cohort will work to develop community-building tools and methods to launch cooperatives and collectives that meet the needs of present-day Native families, communities, and Nations. The project is funded through the generous contributions of the NAAF and CDF, with project management provided by collaborators, the Minnesota Indigenous Business Alliance (MNIBA), Co-operatives First, and the Coady International Institute.

The cohort met for an introductory session on Wednesday, October 19. The cohort, comprised of citizens of the Oneida Nation, Navajo Nation, the Hopi Tribe, Omaha Nation, the Bad River Tribe, the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, the Fort Peck Tribes, the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, as well as the Sustainable Economies Law Center, will look to create a curriculum and training to empower Tribes and individual members with the education and resources to start cooperatives or improve existing cooperatives in Indian Country. The training is also available to entities that want to expand their knowledge of working with Tribal cooperatives and communities.

Woody's One Stop Sault Michigan

“Advancing cooperatives in Indian Country could provide opportunities in expanded economic development and lending resources,” says Toni Stanger-McLaughlin, CEO of the Native American Agriculture Fund.     “Tribal producers, governments, and community members need to be at the forefront of decision making in how cooperative business models can best benefit and address gaps in market engagement for their communities.“CDF is honored to continue our work with NAAF to enhance opportunities for community-led cooperative ecosystems in Native communities,” said Mary Griffin, Executive Director of the Cooperative Development Foundation.

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Economic Empowerment

Cooperatives are member-owned, democratically controlled business enterprises. One of the main goals of cooperatives is economic inclusion. They are formed to help small players gain parity with large investor-owned competitors, to address market failures where neither the private sector nor the government provides a needed service, or to give consumers a deliberate choice of enterprise to better meet their common needs and aspirations. An Indigenous cooperative is an organization that engraves Indigenous language, cultural lifeways and values into its long-term strategy and day-to-day operations and is owned and controlled by a cooperative council of Indigenous individuals or Tribal Nation. The new cohort will host a total of 10 training sessions over the course of the next few months in this phase of program development.

“Cooperatives are a great way for entrepreneurs and small business owners to work together to build collaborative and sustainable business models in underserved markets,” says Lockhart.   “Incorporating Indigenous practices in economic development is imperative to building business relationships throughout Indian Country,” adds Lockhart, who, together with wife Matty, own and operate home-based floral studio, Bloom Co., in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. Bloom Co. strives to provide sustainable systems for composting, recycling, and reusing materials, helping to preserve the environment while supplying beautifully arranged blooms for events, weddings, or everyday occasions.

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For the past three years Lockhart has served as the Director of Business Development and program manager for the Sault Tribe Thrive program, a U.S. Department of Commerce, Minority Business Development Agency-funded AIANNH project, developing, coordinating, and conducting outreach to Sault Tribe citizen owned businesses. Sault Tribe Thrive provides needed marketing and advocacy for Sault Tribe businesses and facilitates training on the benefits for tribal member businesses to return to Tribal Trust Land within the Tribe’s service areas.

Lockhart was hired by the Sault Tribe EDC in 2019 after serving as Internal Auditor for the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians. Throughout his more than 11 years of service with the Sault Tribe, he has fulfilled roles in Accounting, Marketing, and Human Resources. David earned his Masters of Science in Administration degree in Information Resource Management from Central Michigan University in 2014. David resides in Sault Ste. Marie with his wife Matty, three children, Donnivan, 15, Maeby, 9, Ruby, 7, and three cats.

To learn more about cooperative development contact David Lockhart at dlockhart3@saulttribe.net or 906.259.3118.