Economic Revival in the Citizen Potawatomi Nation

Four decades ago, the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, a tribe of the Potawatomi people headquartered in Oklahoma, was faltering. Its dwindling resources included 2.5 acres of trust land and $500 in cash. How could the tribe reverse its decline and build for itself a position not only of security and tribal pride, but one in which its people thrived?

When John “Rocky” Barrett became chair of the tribal government, he focused on tribal self-determination under federal law and the support of entrepreneurship. Under his leadership, the tribe expanded access to financial services and invested profits in the education, health care and housing of its people.

With more than 15 percent average annual revenue growth for 20 years, the Citizen Potawatomi Nation now owns numerous and diverse businesses, including First National Bank. With almost $240 million in assets, it’s the largest tribally owned bank in the U.S.

Read more about the tribe’s road to prosperity in “Citizen Potawatomi Nation Reverses Decline Through Strong Leaders, Entrepreneurship,” in the Darden School of Business/Washington Post “Case in Point” series.

“Citizen Potawatomi Nation Reverses Decline Through Strong Leaders, Entrepreneurship” was written by Malgorzata Glinska, senior researcher at Darden’s Batten Institute of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and based on an original Darden case by Glinska and Darden Professor Gregory B. Fairchild.