Each person and each tribe has a unique path to greatness and the ability to handle adversity is key to long-term success: such was the message of hope and perseverance shared by Charles Wood, chairman of the Chemehuevi Tribe, at Northern Arizona University’s Tribal Economic Outlook Conference.

“If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not trying,” Wood told an audience of more than 160 people at the April 6 event at the High Country Conference Center. The conference was hosted by NAU’s Center for American Indian Economic Development, which is part of the W. A. Franke College of Business’ Alliance Bank Outreach Center.

“NAU’s long tradition of supporting tribal nations can be traced back to our earliest days as an institution,” said Joanne Keene, NAU’s executive vice president. “We value this tradition, and strengthening these relationships is a central focus for NAU.”

The university has made significant strides in serving our Native American constituencies and there is a lot more that we can do together in the name of education, empowerment and economic development, Keene added.

This year’s conference featured speakers with passion about what tribes are able to achieve, and opportunities for leaders to network with each other, said Levi Esquerra, director for NAU’s Center for American Indian Economic Development.

Following the conference, a meeting was held for the keynote speaker and others to interact with approximately 40 NAU students, some who are on track to be future tribal leaders.

“The conference and the meeting afterward was important for our students, who had the chance to hear firsthand, people talk about the amazing things they’ve done within Indian Country,” Esquerra said.