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Michigan Ross Hosts Inaugural Native American Heritage Month Conference

A speaker at the Native American Heritage Month event speaking on stage

The Native American Heritage Month Conference, presented by the Native American student body at the Ross School of Business, welcomed all students to learn about Indigenous culture, business, and more.

The event was not only a chance to celebrate Indigenous culture and business for November, which was Native American Heritage Month but also an opportunity for students to celebrate their culture and connect with influential members of the business world.

"It's a focus on the unique business constraints that tribes experience and unique challenges they have to overcome," said Forrest Cox, MBA '24. "Knowing that there's a Native group on campus was an added benefit over many other business programs to leverage as a place where I can call home in terms of celebrating my culture and sharing it with others.”

A woman in business attire sitting in a chair onstage speaking to the crowd.

The conference presented panels of business executives working in casino gaming, sports betting, and venture capital. Speakers included Matthew Fletcher, a U-M law professor; Frank Tecumseh, CEO of Firekeepers Casino; Monica King, CEO of Gun Lake Investments, and many more.

The first Native American Heritage Month Conference marked an important opportunity to highlight Indigenous voices, who have long been underrepresented in business.

"It's an opportunity to show people that I'm here, that I represent my community, and that I learn so much and stand on their shoulders,” said Sean-Michael Steel, MBA '24. "Not many of us make it to higher education. So it's really exciting to see those of us who are successful and can be an example."

A man in business attire holds a feather as he performs the smudging ceremony onstage in the Robertson Auditorium.

The event was commemorated with a smudging ceremony in Robertson Auditorium, a sacred practice used to dispel negative energy and set good intentions.

"We really wanted to bring this together so that we could share two really big, important things. Awareness for the Native community here on campus, as well as the broader Native community in Ann Arbor and Southeast Michigan. And also, the importance of making connections,” said Madison Parish, MBA/MS '24.