Chief Harjo & Terry Mason Moore Exemplify TCEMP Impact


The Tribal Commerce and Enterprise Management Program (TCEMP) was a project of First Nations Development Institute that was implemented in the fall of 1984 and ran through the summer of 1987, It was generously funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

TCEMP fellows attended Yale University and the University of Minnesota for two years, then the fellows entered a year of service and worked for their tribal communities after graduation. An overview of TCEMP was featured in First Nations’ Indian Giver March/April newsletter – Recalling Our Roots: TCEMP Helped Boost Tribal Economies.

This edition features two TCEMP alums: Chief Leonard M. Harjo of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma (Yale ’88), and Terry Mason Moore of the Osage Nation (University of Minnesota ’92).

Chief Leonard M. Harjo

Chief Leonard M. Harjo, Seminole Nation of Oklahoma

Chief Leonard M. Harjo, Seminole Nation of Oklahoma

Chief Leonard M. Harjo was elected and sworn into office as the Principal Chief of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma on September 5, 2009. His journey to becoming chief of his tribe was one that would take him down many different roads, with some that he did not imagine he would ever take when he was growing up near Wolf, Oklahoma.

Being raised on his grandfather’s allotment in rural Oklahoma by his parents, Floyd L. and Esther Barnoski Harjo, allowed him to learn how to raise livestock and crops. But his grounding in the Seminole rural and cultural life gave him the strong foundation needed in order to venture out into the world during his junior and senior years of high school.

He participated in a program called “A Better Chance” that allowed him to attend a preparatory school in the northeastern part of the United States. This early experience would prepare him for the Ivy League colleges of Harvard and Yale, which he’d go on to attend and earn a B.A. degree in economics in 1979, and a master’s degree in public and private management, respectively.

His graduate school years at Yale were funded by the Tribal Commerce and Enterprise Management Program, or TCEMP, which was a project of First Nations Financial Project (which was renamed First Nations Development Institute in 1991). TCEMP was generously funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

‘Not a lot of Support’

“I had been away for long enough to know what to experience being on the East Coast. There is not a lot of support for Natives out there. So we (other graduate students) supported each other, the different races and communities at Yale. We kept our eyes open and on each other’s kids.”

Harjo said there were a few Native students scattered throughout the university and each student got absorbed into their own area or program, as there was not an effort to bring the Native students together at that time. In spite of the lack of Natives on campus, Harjo did well.

“For me, I liked the Yale School of Management. I was used to small classes and enjoyed and worked better in smaller groups. The classes were interesting and focused on accounting, marketing, finances, environment, education and public speaking.”

Harjo was not alone at Yale, his then four-year-old daughter went with him. He juggled his time between his studies and being a father.

“I was a divorced single parent. I took my daughter to Yale, and she spent her fourth and fifth years of age there. She loved it. We lived in the graduate family housing and there were a lot of kids her age.”

Harjo had started to pursue an MBA in Oklahoma by attending night school. But when his life situation changed and he became a single father, he knew the “only way to do it was to go to school full time.”

Citibank Internship

In the summer of 1987 Harjo did an internship for Citibank in New York and reviewed statutes and policies affecting the banking industry in Oklahoma.

“It was an enjoyable opportunity to be in New York in the summer of 1987 after my first year in business school. Companies heavily recruited students between the first and second year of business school. It was an enjoyable summer listening to what others had to say.”

Harjo completed TCEMP and graduated with a master’s degree in public and private management from Yale in 1988, and returned to Oklahoma. He then went on to be the tribal planner to director of economic development, and was appointed the first director of the Seminole Nation Development Authority. Harjo did whatever was needed for his tribe for the next 20 years. He knows he’s fortunate to have had the experience of being a TCEMP fellow. It gave him the confidence to tackle the hard issues and trust in his capabilities and take responsibility to get the job done. But he knows not all Natives are as fortunate.

“Some are not used to facing challenges they are not familiar with. They almost freeze, they don’t know what to do. Yale helped give me the tools … so it was not an issue for me to figure out how to do it, and how to not fear not knowing how to do it.”

Harjo says another TCEMP is still needed today to give Native people an opportunity learn basic business management skills. He sees the need everyday as he works to bring people on board in positions with the tribe’s enterprises. An on-site campus experience for a semester or more, where the students can come together on campus once a month to focus on their studies with other Native students and then return to their home communities to continue their work on the ground, is his vision.

Seeking the Same Things

“I remember telling Rebecca Adamson (First Nations founder and former president) and Sherry Salway Black (former First Nations senior vice president) at that time, that an on-site program is a good one. It brings together like-minded people with other professional Native people seeking the same things they are.”

Harjo continues to see how important the work of First Nations Development Institute is for tribal communities. He said the work is especially important in creating Native economies, particularly in the area of entrepreneurship, and developing alternatives for tribes to consider beyond relying on government funding and tribal gaming.

“… to really create a private sector owned by tribal members, real entrepreneurship growth has to come from our communities. We need to develop and have an economic sector that is owned by our people and in our own tribal communities.”

Terry Mason Moore

Terry Mason Moore, attorney and tribal judge, Osage Nation

Terry Mason Moore, attorney and tribal judge, Osage Nation

Terry Mason Moore is a very curious person, an adventure seeker and a risk taker. Moore, a member of the Osage Nation, had earned a bachelor’s degree in management from Northeastern State University, and a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of New Mexico School of Law, plus she had studied international law and comparative law at Oxford University.

She was already an accomplished Indian law attorney when, in the fall of 1990, she left Oklahoma to become a fellow with the Tribal Commerce and Enterprise Management Program, or (TCEMP). The fellowship program was a key component of the First Nations Financial Project, as First Nations Development Institute was called until the name was formally changed in 1991. TCEMP was originally based at Yale University from 1986 to 1988. It then moved to the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota located in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. TCEMP was generously funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York from 1991 to 1994.

Moore recalls: “Back then, there were no monies to support you getting an education. It (TCEMP) was a blessing – there were no options then. We were on our own. We appreciated the opportunity. We took a chance, we took a risk and we just went.”

For the next two years Moore and her fellow mate, Aurolyn Stwyer (Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon), focused on their studies with their young children in tow. They were involved with both the Native community on the UMN campus and in the greater Twin Cities.

Gaining Confidence

“We took economic development, economic nonprofit management classes. It was fun. Aurolyn was in a different major, but we took the core classes together. In our second year more TCEMP students came. We were pioneers, Aurolyn and I. We helped lay the groundwork. It made us stronger, gave us the confidence and made us competent to deal with the non-Indian world. We imagined we could succeed and we did. We graduated and we could see the possibilities. We knew we could do it.”

Both Moore and Stwyer would graduate from the UMN Carlson School of Management with master’s degrees in business administration in 1992. Another Native student on campus who was close with Moore and Stwyer was Annette Bowsher Hamilton, who is from the Kickapoo Tribe of Indians of the Kickapoo Reservation in Kansas. She was considered a TCEMP student, but was funded by an outside organization. Hamilton graduated in 1993.

Moore credits TCEMP for the opportunity to expand her knowledge and experience.

“Because of First Nations and TCEMP, I grew. I remember Sherry Salway Black (former First Nations senior vice president) and Rebecca Adamson (First Nations founder and former president) taking Aurolyn and I to the First Nations office in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Sherry had us stay over at her house and spend the night, then we went home. It was a great opportunity I would not have had without TCEMP. The incentives, the stipend which covered our living expenses, it all made such a huge difference in being in the program. I could not have done it without funding. It was an opportunity to take advantage of.”

Early Days of Tribal Gaming

Moore stayed in Minnesota for 10 years and combined her law and business degrees to assist tribes in the early days of tribal gaming.

“I was the business contracts person when I worked for Kurt Bluedog’s law firm in Minneapolis. I worked with tribes in North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota. It was a great experience. I worked on some of the first tribal gaming compacts, helped tribes build casinos and resorts, and many are still doing excellent today. I’m proud of that.”

During her time in Minnesota, Moore served as vice president of the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center, a board member for the Minnesota American Indian Bar Association, and on numerous other organization boards and task forces in the state. She served as tribal judge for the Prairie Island Indian Community, the Lower Sioux Indian Community, the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma, the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma, and the Ponca Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma. Currently she serves as tribal judge for the Santee Sioux Nation in Nebraska, and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community of Minnesota.

Return to the Osage Nation

In 1999 Moore and her family returned to the Osage Reservation, where she was born and raised, and she began working for her tribe. Moore was the legal counsel for the Osage Nation Tax Commission and later general counsel as a contractor.

“I wore every hat. I worked as gaming commissioner, served on the Tribal Council, and was the first woman Assistant Principal Chief. I have worked as general counsel in some capacity since 2000. There is always something going on when working for a tribe. I am now legal counsel to Chief Standing Bear. I work with outside attorneys, litigation and lobbyists in Oklahoma and in Washington, D.C. I was fortunate to go back to work for the tribe – it was a commitment.”

Moore’s commitment to working for her tribe and helping it grow is something she credits back to TCEMP. It also prompted her to take First Nations’ Building Native Communities: Financial Skills for Families (BNC) training and certification in 2012. She saw it as a way to help empower her tribal community members to achieve their financial goals and manage their assets.

“I took the training to help make the community better. There is a need among our young people to learn how to manage their finances and manage their credit. I was curious about the BNC training so I took it. It was interesting and I learned something new.”

Profiles by Mary K. Bowannie, First Nations Communications Officer

3 thoughts on “Chief Harjo & Terry Mason Moore Exemplify TCEMP Impact

  1. I wish this form of Fellowship was available at this time because I am now a 1st year Grad student at UMD for Masters Tribal Administration & Governance. However, my main purpose is to get a MA in Public Affairs NonProfit to help Indian Country! As my purpose is to help communities while working using my skills as a fundraiser, grant writer, and what knowledge I’ve learned through school to act as a consultant or within organizational development. I would like to work with a foundation to distribute or raise funds, develop programs such as a nonprofit like First Nations.

  2. Pingback: TCEMP’s Aurolyn Stwyer, a Business-Bound Cultural Ambassador | indiangiver

  3. Pingback: TCEMP Helped Set Annette Hamilton on Her Path | indiangiver

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *