Courtesy Winnebago Tribe
Left to right: Ho-Chunk, Inc. CEO Lance Morgan and COO Annette Hamilton; Winnebago Tribal Chairman John Blackhawk; Officials from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center Verron Brade and Lori Moore, at Ho-Chunk, Inc. headquarters in Winnebago, Nebraska.

Indian Business Can Be Successful

Dr. Dean Chavers

For years I have thought that most of Indian Country's problems would be solved if people had jobs. I still believe that. Lance Morgan is the embodiment of that concept.

In a conversation I had with him recently, Lance confirmed what I have long suspected. The tribally owned company he runs, Ho-Chunk, Inc., is highly successful because it has toed the line and been committed to success. It has followed the capitalist line, to make money first. But it is more than that.

The non-Indian business is in place to make money, Lance says. The capitalists worship the dollar as their almighty Grail, he said. At Ho-Chunk, however, the emphasis is on affecting the community. Using that philosophy, he and his team have built Ho-Chunk into the largest company of the small tribes.

He says some of the larger tribes have larger companies. But Ho-Chunk grossed $259 million last year—a significant amount.

Their biggest business is dealing with the federal government. The second largest is housing, and their third is selling Native products. They do business with 50 different tribes. They also have businesses going in 10 states and four foreign countries.

They are into alternative energy, with the largest solar and ethanol business in Nebraska. Lance thinks the business will continue to grow for decades.

I asked him what their long-range goal is, and he said it is to take over the world. “We’re just smart Indians doing business,” he said. Their goal is to develop tribal self-sufficiency. They employ more than 1,000 people.

RELATED: How Tribal Leaders Are Creating Jobs

They have just developed a large project building tribal housing. Some of it is on the Winnebago reservation, and some is off the reservation in urban areas.


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