Oklahoma Sets Record for “Building Native Communities”

Alexandria Harjo and Dorna Battese with the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma.

Alexandria Harjo and Dorna Battese with the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma.

Oklahoma is no stranger to offbeat nicknames and slogans. Take your pick: Oklahoma is OK, Buckle of the Wheat Belt, Home of the International Cow Chip Throw, and my personal favorite, Be a fan of the state shaped like a pan. But this fall Oklahoma earned a new distinction that leaves those hackneyed monikers in the dust – Home of the World’s Biggest BNC Training!

Miranda Marquez and James Reveles with the Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma.

Miranda Marquez and James Reveles with the Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma.

Forty-two eager participants piled into a lecture hall at Oklahoma City Community College for the largest Building Native Communities (BNC) train-the-trainer workshop ever facilitated by First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) with support from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation. The supersized training was co-sponsored by the Oklahoma Native Assets Coalition, Inc. (ONAC), Native Alliance Against Violence, Choctaw Asset Building, Bank2, and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma Victim Service.

“Ordinarily BNC workshops are capped at about 35 participants but we had more demand from new trainers and existing BNC trainers looking for a refresher,” explained ONAC Executive Director Christy Finsel, who was the lead organizer for the workshop. “We were fortunate to have training space that could accommodate a large group. We had three days of high-impact training with diverse participants from tribes and Native nonprofits in Oklahoma and Arizona.”

The workshop, which took place October 23-25, 2018, was First Nations’ first BNC training in the Sooner State since 2012. An immensely popular financial education curriculum, BNC teaches budgeting, goal-setting and other hot topics in a Native American context using engaging lessons and activities. Financial education trainers and specialists working in Native communities across the country attend BNC train-the-trainer workshops to learn the latest information, enhance their training skills, and network with other providers.

Darnell Day and Loretta Carter with The Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians, and Carolyn Allen.

Darnell Day and Loretta Carter with The Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians, and Carolyn Allen.

“What I most enjoyed about the workshop is the interaction during the flipchart activities,” commented Alexandria Harjo, an education and training specialist with the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma. “It allowed us to not only interact with the instructor but also with the other participants. This was a big part of the learning process which enabled everyone to see a range of perspectives and possible scenarios when teaching financial literacy.”

Thanks to all of our hard-working BNC attendees and partners, Oklahoma’s Native communities earn an A+ for financial education excellence!

For more information about Building Native Communities: Financial Skills for Families and other financial education programs, please contact First Nations Program Consultant Shawn Spruce at agoyopi@gmail.com and visit www.bncweb.org/.

To learn more about ONAC’s Native asset-building program, both in Oklahoma and nationally, please contact ONAC Executive Director Christy Finsel at cfinsel@oknativeassets.org.

By Shawn Spruce, First Nations Financial Education Consultant

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