Freddy Gipp Creates Opportunities for Native Communities to Engage in Cultural Programming

Freddy’s Dream

Freddy’s dream “Powwow+” is a program of his business, Lead Horse LLC, and an opportunity for communities to engage in new and innovative cultural programing by encouraging communities to host powwow celebrations. This, Freddy says, will help develop consistent revenue streams through cultural tourism.

He used the Native American Tourism and Improving Visitors Experience Act (NATIVE) and the Native American Business Incubators Program Act (NABIP) to design a business model that can support new and innovative capacity building efforts for remote, rural and urban tribal communities.

“There is not a better place to enact this pilot program than Lawrence, Kansas,” says Freddy. “I believe our community has the infrastructure in place that can substantially benefit Native American and other minority groups.”

Freddy’s Home and Community

Freddy was born and raised in Lawrence, Kansas, an urban community supporting more than 4,100 self-identified Native American people. He describes the Native American community in Lawrence as serving as “a platform that has helped countless people establish themselves through opportunities not always available ‘back home.’

“This is a community that is willing to understand the bigger picture and will that necessary step to incorporate our voice, ensuring that we matter,” he told us. “I am fortunate to live in an urban community because we have access to the basic and necessary resources we need.

“I believe Lawrence possess the qualities of a destination driver to attract more Native Americans to the city,” he added. “The infrastructure is all here in place but needs guidance from a trailblazing community member.”

Freddy noted that Lawrence is associated with Haskell Indian Nations University, the city’s recognition of Indigenous People’s Day and the unanimous decision from the school board to change the name of his alma mater middle school to honor Billy Mills, a Lakota who won an Olympic gold medal and who is the national spokesperson for Running Strong for American Indian Youth®.

“I want to keep the momentum going within our community and show the city government on why it cannot afford to leave us out of the conversation.”

What motivated Freddy to develop his dream?

Freddy learned about the NATIVE and NABIP Acts as an intern at the Department of the Interior in 2017 through the Native American Political Leadership Program at George Washington University, where he had the opportunity to sit in on a White House Council of Native American Affairs meeting.

He noted that the law was heavily lobbied by the American Indian and Alaska Native Tourism Association since 2014 and was unanimously passed in both the House and Senate and was signed into law in 2016.

In conducting research during his time as an intern he was prompted to explore more about the NATIVE ACT and found that there were “a few key nebulous terms” in the law such as “Federal Tourism Assets,” “Native community,” “Cultural Tourism,” and “Recreational Traveling.”

He subsequently learned from discussions with key individuals representing the House of Representatives, agencies and organizations that the law was not intended to support urban tribal communities, and was only directed for remote and rural areas.

“I developed a counterargument that this law cannot afford to leave out urban tribal communities because there is a lot more than can be analyzed and implemented from these communities that can immensely benefit remote and rural economic and social strategy.”

The Dream as a Solution

“I want this business model to jumpstart economic activity in remote, rural and urban tribal communities,” says Freddy. “I want to reach tribal leaders and administrative workers, families, children, non-Natives, small business owners, artists, powwow dancers, students, advocates, local and state government officials, and executive directors of nonprofits.”

Freddy explained his model uses the basic principles of event planning and increases the overall economic and social impact of their events. While he acknowledges “other event planners exist,” he notes that “nobody is looking at using powwows as the platform for incubation, growth and development.

“I believe powwows are the key in making this possible because this was the missing piece in establishing Lawrence as a destination driver for other Native Americans.”

The Potential Impact in the Future

“This idea implements strategically planned powwows that can help tribal entities engage public and provide markets by offering consistent revenue streams, fulfillment of diversity and inclusion initiatives, bolster cultural tourism opportunities and achieve economic goals and objectives.

“Through my idea, I want to lead Native communities to take control of their proximity, become self-sufficient, establish public and private partnerships to encourage investment and provide creative and unique ways to being economic impact year-round.”

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