Education and tribal administrator named to multi-state development post


c. kay-web.jpgAn experienced tribal and education

administrator from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has been named the

new executive director of the three-state Common Enterprise

Development Corporation based at Mandan, N.D.

Cheryl Ann Kary

(Hunkuotawin) succeeds long-time North Dakota public and private

economic development leader Bill Patrie, nationally known for helping

start several value-added agricultural businesses and services firms

in North Dakota that involved several Indian organizations.

Patrie will remain working at the

nonprofit consultancy during a transition period.

“I wouldn’t say I want to be a

bridge between Indians and non-Indians,” she said in an interview.

“I look at my new role as a resource link for people wanting to do


Kary previously worked with adult

education, student recruitment, public relations, and as vice

president for community development at Sitting Bull College at Fort

Yates. She was executive director of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe

for two years. She also served as curriculum development director and

trainer at the Native American Training Institute, and research

director of United Tribes Technical College, both in Bismarck

She echoes views of Patrie, the

executive director since it’s founding in 2009. Both say persistent

poverty and health problems on reservations and in other communities

aren’t a “people failure,” but rather a “systems failure.”

Farm poverty has at least been partly

overcome by “system change,” Patrie said, whereby farm families

now keep more of the value of their production at home and working in

their state and local economies. Over the years, he helped create

more than 30 such cooperatives including the Fort Berthold

Agricultural Cooperative at New Town and the Twin Buttes Land Owners

Energy Cooperative at Twin Buttes.

Common Enterprise, or CEDC, is a

nonprofit consultancy providing technical assistance to start-up

enterprises mutually or cooperatively owned on and off reservations

in North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota. Tribally-owned

enterprises are by definition membership-owned and thus sibling

organizations with agricultural and food co-ops, mutual insurance and

finance companies, credit unions and other forms of community

enterprises owned and operated for the common good by members.

At CEDC, Patrie worked with local

groups involving North Dakota reservations, 11 North Dakota counties,

and others on developing a cooperative health care system; various

community development projects; with North Dakota, South Dakota,

Minnesota and Manitoba agricultural groups in developing value-added

processing enterprises; and on rural and reservation housing


Prior to starting CEDC, Patrie served

16 years as rural development director for the North Dakota

Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives. He later was director of

cooperative business strategies for the multi-state Northcountry

Cooperative Development Fund and Foundation. CEDC is a spin-off

development consultancy still linked with Northcountry.

Collaborating with groups sharing

interests is a strength Kary brings to CEDC, said Theresa Grant,

principal partner in Okiciya Consulting Inc. and with KAT

Communications, based at Bismarck.

“She (Kary) is smart as a whip,”

Grant said. “She can communicate, and she brings people together.”

For background, Kary has bachelor and

master’s degrees from University of Mary at Bismarck and a Ph.D. in

Communications and Public Discourse from the University of North

Dakota, Grand Forks. She was awarded a Bush Foundation Fellowship in

2013 to research conditions and needs of the American Indian

population in the Bismarck-Mandan area.

That led to Kary starting a non-profit

organization, the Sacred Pipe Resource Center, to work on common

needs for the diverse cultural and tribal people living in and around

the two cities. It is still in a start-up phase. Kary will continue

to lead it from CEDC.

As further evidence of the interlinking

of relationships, Bismarck business and media consultant Grant serves

as chair of Sacred Pipe Resource Center. Okiciya, which means “to

help each other” in Lakota, and KAT Communications, with its

GoodHealthTV programming for both native health and public health

networks, crisscross many common health and healthcare access issues.

While recent CEDC projects have been in

advancing studies and proposals for agricultural related enterprises,

including the prospect for nitrogen fertilizer production in North

Dakota, health and well-being issues remain integral to the

nonprofit’s mission.

Among the most closely watched projects

nationally was CEDC’s work with local groups to form the Wilson

Health Care Cooperative, named to honor Dr. Herbert Wilson who

provided medical services on the Fort Berthold Reservation for most

of the past half century.

An aim of this cooperative is to get

different government agencies, different insurance plans, and

different health facilities to integrate delivery and access to

health care. “We still have people driving too far to get

pharmaceuticals and services,” Kary said.

This collaborative, cooperative

approach is a “systems change” that could benefit everyone living

in rural North Dakota, she said. That is a lesson she learned as a

young child on a Standing Rock ranch.

“There was a dry year, much like this

year. An electrical storm started a grass fire and it was coming

right at our home. We didn’t have a local fire department at that

time,” she recalls.

But then, another cloud formed over the

gravel roads leading to the ranch. It was dust. People from miles

around came in cars, trucks and on tractors to fight the fire. Her

family home was saved.

“That left an impact on me on what

people can do for each other,” she said.