Palpable energy permeated the room, and hundreds were moved to tears, at the opening ceremony for the National Reservation Economic Summit (RES) Tuesday morning in Las Vegas.
The 27th annual RES kicked off in grand fashion, with the posting of colors by the Native American Female Color Guard, an opening invocation by Crosslin Smith, Cherokee, and a stunning performance by the Native Pride Dancers and drumming by Northern Bear. A moving video with images of Cahokia Mounds, an enduring reminder for the historic Mississippian culture, played to the Beyonce song, “I Was Here.”
The theme of this year’s RES is “Honoring Our Past – Defining Our Future,” and the Cahokia Mounds have been incorporated into the event as a pivotal symbol.
“Over the next few days you will bear witness to the mounds of Cahokia,” Gary Davis, President and CEO of the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development, told thousands of attendees. “This year at the Reservation Economic Summit, we are rekindling the fire of Cahokia.”
Davis noted that “it wasn’t just one tribe that achieved economic and cultural success at Cahokia. It was multiple tribes … who understood that they could get more done together than we can apart.”
Davis also emphasized that business and an entrepreneurial spirit are age-old attributes of Native people.
“It is something as traditional to us as our songs and that drum,” he said, “because the Creator did not put us here on this Earth to not be self-sufficient, and to not sustain ourselves. Let’s not talk about the limitations, and let’s not talk about the obstacles. The power of Indian Country and the power of Cahokia is alive and well in all of us. We have work to do, and we intend over the next three days to put Indian Country to work.”