Offering Solutions

For years, Native American communities have struggled with the challenges of developing sustainable Tribal economies. Overall, many of these efforts have failed, but it has not been for lack of advice. Unfortunately, most of the guidance offered has come from outside sources such as federal programs, agency representatives, and academics. This advice focused on what should change rather than what is vital to the community.

We operate from a view that Tribal communities will exercise sovereignty more effectively when they have taken control of their own destiny. Our experience has shown that a strong economy, coupled with a Tribal community’s commitment to maintaining its unique culture, greatly enhances the sustainability of any Tribal community.

One Fire offers a collaborative, creative approach to transformation. At the core of our practice is the ability to listen and respond appropriately. We draw on the strengths and values of Native communities to implement necessary changes and achieve results.

We offer practical tools to assist in Nation Building, Economic Development, Tribal and Entrepreneurial development.

We are a team of professionals with extensive experience in community, economic, and enterprise development. Spanning over twenty years, we have developed the technical expertise to understand what works in Indian Country and what can go wrong.

The seeds of One Fire were planted in a developmental venture for one of the largest Indian Nations in Oklahoma. Kyle Smith and former Cherokee Principal Chief, Wilma Mankiller, created the non-profit to provide technical assistance in advancing community and economic development within Indian Country.

One Fire’s first project, funded by the Ford Foundation and First Nations Development Institute, helped transform a large Tribal service organization. The two-year project focused on rebuilding the system of governance, service delivery, and administration by integrating leading management practices with Native culture and values.

2002 – 2006

Created a comprehensive program and facility plan to build the first Native American Lifelong Learning Center in America. The team secured over $23 million toward the development of the Center and its programs.

Initiated community outreach and funded local Cherokee Community Development projects.

November 2002

Completed research on predatory lending practices in Native American communities.

June 2003

Facilitated a consultative gathering with Native American Elders, Activists, and Select Funders for the Margaret Casey Foundation. Provided facilitation for the convening.

January 2004

Provide technical assistance in support of the Cherokee Heritage Center. The objective was to optimize the operational capacity of Heritage Center’s leadership.

July 2004

Convened 35 Native American non-profit leaders and developed a strategy for matching future Indian leaders with reservation-based non-profits. A series of questions were used to guide the discussion held in Kansas City for the First Nations Development Institute

October 2004

Completed a review of the Native Youth and Culture Fund for American Indian Non-profit organization. The project-achieved results in transferring knowledge of the community and Native Language, impacting the way youth feel and how individual behaviors were strengthened.

March 2006

Identified practical models for the preservation and maintenance of traditional knowledge systems. The result, “Cultural Survival,” was funded by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation.

February 2007

Formalize a multicultural intermediary to provide technical assistance to underserved populations and foster relationships with philanthropic and government entities. Funded by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation.

March 2010

Facilitated the writing of The Sound of Drums, a memoir of Lloyd Kiva New. Lloyd Kiva New ( b. Lloyd Henri New, Cherokee Nation, 1916-2002) wrote his memoirs in the last four years of his life. Funded by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation.

Assessed the impact that philanthropy had on the American Indian community in a one-year project, “Context is Everything.” This involved stories and a discussion of how to strengthen partnerships between the philanthropic community and Native Americans. Funded by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation.

2012 – 2018

Developed and conducted Native Business workshops. The staff of One Fire delivered more than 120 Entrepreneurial Empowerment Workshops that helped more than 1500 individuals in 107 Native communities realize their small business dreams. The two-day workshops provided aspiring entrepreneurs the knowledge to successfully launch their small businesses as well as support emerging businesses.