Three Michigan Native American tribes have joined together in creating a real estate development, construction, and property management company that is the first of its kind in the Midwest – Aki Construction.
“Aki” in Ojibwe means “earth, land or ground.”
“(Construction) is something that we’ve all had interest in doing in some form or bringing that into our portfolios. And, given that we are all very interested in also doing co-investments with other tribes, it just kind of all came to be. And I think, fueled by just a lot of development needs within our tribes. So we finally decided to pull the trigger and do something about it.” said Monica King, CEO of Gun Lake Investments.
The trio came together to work towards growing their own tribes, other tribes, and non-tribal communities. With common investments and shared interests in Michigan, they decided to team up and share resources.
“The kind of impact that we’ve talked about are in various stages. I think the collaboration within the tribes, uniting tribes across the state and tribal members, job creation, bringing value back to our tribes and our communities, supporting one another, uplifting ourselves and our communities. Those are the kinds of things that I see as our goals in the future,” Shanna Shananaquet, Executive Director of Odawa Holdings.
“I think it’s going to be refreshing to have a construction management company out there that leads with (people-minded environment and culture),” Monica King said. “We lead with our hearts and it’s just something outside of tribal country that you just don’t see as much, so I’m proud of that.”
Three Companies That Make Up Aki Construction
1. Odawa Economic Affairs Holding Corporation – the business development group for the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians out of Petoskey, MI.
2. Mno-Bmadsen – the non-gaming investment arm of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians in Dowagiac, MI.
3. Gun Lake Investments – the economic development corporation for the Gun Lake Tribe in Grand Rapids.
“I think that the most important thing is since all the tribes have a nice alignment with our ideas, within our cultures and goals, we are obviously stronger together. And so when you think about it, three minds are better than one, and we can collaborate amongst each other and spread our resources out within the tribe to be able to tackle each project,” said Shanna Shananaquet, executive director of Odawa Holdings.
Projects in the Future
Shanna Shananaquet says Aki Construction eventually wants to work with other tribes and construction projects as well.
With so many tribes calling Michigan home, Aki Construction will certainly have many connections and potential projects. The company also expressed plans to expand throughout the Midwest. Aki Construction is an integral step towards strengthening tribal nations.
Creating a construction firm in a time of economic uncertainty presents its fair share of challenges, however. Despite those uncertainties, Aki members remain concentrated on their long-term goals and have been focused on projects like schools and new medical clinics.
While none of the three initial founding companies is strictly a construction company, “we all have been circling around this in different ways … and we have had a lot of experience with construction without having a construction company ourselves,” said Julio Martinez, CEO of Mno-Bmadsen.
“This partnership is the first of its kind in the Midwest, which not only makes this an important move for each of our tribes, but also a historic milestone for tribal country. Three tribes are coming together to further develop and give back to their communities, which will create economic value and provide meaningful opportunities for our tribes and beyond. GLI is thrilled to partner on this new endeavor.” said Monica King.
Mac Daniel is a Michigan native and freelance writer for PlayOnlineCasino and PlayOnlineSportsBetting. He has experience writing about a wide variety of topics, including healthcare, tourism, non-profit organizations, and most recently casino and sportsbetting news. To check out more of his work, visit: playonlinemichigan.com