On October 3-4, 2023, Pete Upton, the CEO and Chairman of the Native CDFI Network, made a keynote speech at the 2023 Northwest Native Economic Summit. This collaborative event, conducted in partnership with the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians Economic Development Corporation and Nixyaawii Community Financial Services, took place at the Wildhorse Resort & Casino on the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. The summit’s theme, “Woven Economies,” revolved around sustainability from an Indigenous perspective, drawing in a diverse audience that included Tribal leaders, staff, small business owners, micro-entrepreneurs, funders, and industry experts.
Upton’s remarks at the summit highlighted the critical importance of policy updates aimed at supporting economic self-sufficiency and sustainable growth. He acknowledged the unique challenges faced by Native American communities and provided valuable guidance on navigating the complexities of policy issues. His insights emphasized the need to ensure that Tribal nations have access to the resources necessary for their prosperity. This includes but is not limited to funding toward clean energy resources. To this end, NCN is submitting the only exclusively Native-serving application for the EPA’s Clean Communities Investment Accelerator (CCIA) program, designed to address the pressing impacts of climate change and stimulate economic growth within Tribal nations.
In conjunction with the summit, Upton also attended the board meeting of the Northwest Native Lending Network, which encompassed various organizations, including Native CDFIs (Community Development Financial Institutions), emerging Native CDFIs, Tribal Credit Enterprises, and other entities focused on economic development. During this visit, he had the opportunity to witness firsthand the Tribe’s commendable achievements in economic development, particularly in areas such as housing, infrastructure, and solar energy projects. Overall, this event served as a significant platform for emphasizing the importance of well-informed policy decisions in achieving economic resilience and preserving the rich cultural heritage of Native American communities.