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California Tribes Revise Traditional Pre-colonization Trade System to Produce new Business Opportunities, Rebuild Economies



Yurok Tribe, San Manuel advocate for inter-tribal commerce in CA

During the past a decade, the Yurok Tribe and the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians have enjoyed a genuinely unique, reciprocal government-to-government relationship, despite the immense geographical distance between the tribal nations.

The two tribes, located at the far northern and southern ends of California, have forged a partnership on a wide variety of undertakings, ranging from public health projects to cultural exchanges. When a major natural disaster hit the Yurok Reservation in 2020 San Manuel sent the Yurok Tribe funding to address the emergency. During the past two decades, Yurok leaders joined San Manuel Band of Mission Indians in advocating for California schools to teach factual, representative accounts of California Indian history and culture through the California Indian Cultural Awareness Conference hosted by Cal State San Bernardino.

The tribal governments also recently incorporated intertribal commerce into their longstanding, nation-to-nation relationship. As a result of a newly completed agreement, patrons of San Manuel Casino, Southern California’s most thrilling casino, are now served high-quality, sustainably produced ales from the Yurok Tribe’s Mad River Brewing Company — one of the first tribally owned breweries in the U.S.

“We are extremely grateful for the opportunity to do business with one of the most successful tribes in the nation,” said Joseph L. James, the Chairman of the Yurok Tribe. “Our unparalleled partnership is a prime example of how tribes can lift each other up in the 21st century. The Yurok Tribe and San Manuel Band of Mission Indians couldn’t have a closer relationship even though we are 1,000 miles apart.”

“Workable intertribal trade can be a powerful expression of our sovereignty and our right to determine our own destiny,” said San Manuel Band of Mission Indians Chairman Ken Ramirez. “Tribe to tribe commerce is the future. The Yurok Tribe and San Manuel Band of Mission Indians are carving out possibilities and opportunities toward the restoration of economic resilience in our respective communities.”

The Yurok Tribe, California’s largest tribal nation, resides in one of the most economically disadvantaged and rural parts of the state. Due to a number of factors, including historical trauma, loss of land and detrimental federal policies, the unemployment rate on the Yurok Reservation is greater than 30 percent. The median family income is $28,300, which is less than half of the national average. Unlike city and county governments, the Tribe does not collect taxes from reservation residents. Instead, the tribal government depends on a combination of grants and business revenue to sustain its social, environmental and healthcare programs.

“That is why this business arrangement with San Manuel Band of Mission Indians is so important for the Tribe. The proceeds generated from this partnership will fund essential services for the Yurok people,” explained Chairman James. “In addition to bolstering the Tribe’s social safety net, participating in intertribal commerce is putting us back in a position to decide our own fate.”

“Intertribal commerce is also consistent with the traditional cultures of both of our tribes. Since time immemorial, we maintained sophisticated trade routes that extended well beyond our respective aboriginal territories. Now, we are creating a modernized version of this traditional economic system to meet the needs of our citizens,” said Chairman Ramirez. “Before colonization, San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and the Yurok Tribe maintained complex economic structures that allowed for environmentally responsible uses of our lands and natural resources.”

Prior to European contact, indigenous nations on the California coast constantly traded utilitarian and luxury items. Due in large part to these interconnected economies, every tribe in this region enjoyed an excellent standard of living until the so-called Gold Rush, when white settlers forcibly seized many tribal trade routes in an attempt to weaken indigenous resistance against state-sponsored genocide, which ripped apart tribal communities. Tribes in the Golden State are only just now beginning to recover from this tumultuous time period.

“Tribe to tribe trade served us well for millennia and today it is helping us rebuild our communities in a manner that is congruent with our cultural values,” concluded Chairman James. 

The Inland Empire Business Journal (IEBJ) is the official business news publication of Southern California’s Inland Empire region - covering San Bernardino & Riverside Counties.

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Inland Empire Regional Chamber of Commerce to Lead California Delegation at GITEX GLOBAL 2023 in Dubai



Fostering Technological Synergy: Bridging the Tech Gap with Global Partners

Demonstrating the Inland Empire Regional Chamber of Commerce’s (IERCC) commitment to global tech collaboration and innovation, the organization will lead a California delegation to the world-renowned GITEX GLOBAL event in Dubai from October 16-20, 2023. Though the original invitation extended to IERCC’s President & CEO, Mr. Edward Ornelas, Jr., he will not be in attendance. Instead, the California delegation will be spearheaded by the Chamber’s newly-appointed CTO, Mr. Gabriel Rangel.

Organized by the Dubai World Trade Centre, GITEX GLOBAL 2023 promises to be grander than ever. The event is set to host over 6,000 exhibiting companies and startups, drawing more than 170,000 tech and business executives from over 170 countries. The mega-event will sprawl across 41 vast halls and, for the first time ever, will be held at two prominent venues – the iconic Dubai World Trade Centre and the new Dubai Harbour for Expand North Star, making it the host for the world’s largest startup event.

Mr. Edward Ornelas, Jr. commented, “While I regret not attending GITEX personally, I am proud to have Mr. Rangel at the helm of this effort. I’m confident that our delegation will foster new collaborations and present the Golden State as a tech powerhouse.”

This year’s conference adopts the compelling theme of “The Year to Imagine AI in Everything”. Attendees are poised to witness the grandest showcase of AI tech giants and industry frontrunners. Additionally, it promises to kindle profound dialogues and debates concerning the socio-economic implications of burgeoning AI technology.

“Leading the California delegation at GITEX offers us an unmatched platform to nurture and solidify relationships with global tech partners,” said Mr. Gabriel Rangel, CTO of IERCC. “As the technology landscape continues to evolve, it’s critical for us to be a part of these international collaborations. I’m honored to spearhead this mission on behalf of the Inland Empire Regional Chamber of Commerce.”

An integral part of the California delegation, Mr. Ram Thanapandian, Principal Technology Consultant to the State of California and Chair of CA State Treasurer Fiona Ma’s Technical Advisory Commission, will be present, providing invaluable insights and representing the State of California Treasurer’s Office.

IERCC’s leadership in organizing this delegation underscores the crucial role that California plays in the global tech ecosystem and mirrors Dubai’s ambitious vision as encapsulated in the Dubai Economic Agenda (D33). This strategy aims to substantially expand Dubai’s economic landscape in the upcoming decade, securing its stature among the world’s leading global cities.

Trixie LohMirmand, Executive Vice President of the Dubai World Trade Centre and CEO of KAOUN International, remarked on the invaluable contributions the California delegation will bring to the event. She looks forward to an event marked by knowledge-sharing, collaboration, and pioneering discussions.

For additional information on GITEX GLOBAL 2023, please refer to: GITEX 2023 Preview.

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Economist Christopher Thornberg, State Treasurer Fiona Ma Headline New Forecast Conference



Coming October 5th

Economic Horizon 2024: What Lies Ahead?

The Inland Empire Regional Chamber of Commerce, in collaboration with Beacon Economics and the County of San Bernardino, is thrilled to announce that the anticipated economic forecast conference, Economic Horizon 2024: What Lies Ahead, Inland Empire? will be held October 5th from 3:30 PM to 6:30 PM at the El Prado Golf Courses in the vibrant city of Chino, California.

Esteemed economist, Dr. Christopher Thornberg will present complete outlooks for the U.S., California, and Inland Empire economies. “The Inland Empire stands at the crossroads of remarkable economic opportunities and challenges,” said Thornberg. “I’m excited to unpack the trends and shifts that will define the region’s economic landscape in the next year, and beyond.”

Known for his razor-sharp observations, and fun, energized delivery, Thornberg’s presentation will include pointed discussions about inflation, the Fed’s next move, housing markets, strengths and instabilities in the economy, and what current trends mean for the nation, state, and local region.

The conference will also be graced by the insights of California State Treasurer Fiona Ma as keynote speaker. In her words, “The strength of California’s economy is deeply interwoven with the growth trajectories of its regions. The Inland Empire, with its dynamism and resilience, is a testament to this synergy. I am honored to join ‘Economic Horizon 2024’ and share a vision where policies, partnerships, and potentials converge to elevate the Inland Empire to unprecedented economic heights.”

“This conference is a testament to the collaborative spirit of the Inland Empire and our commitment to fostering a robust, resilient economy,” said Edward Ornelas, Jr., President of the Inland Empire Regional Chamber of Commerce. “Our partnership with Beacon Economics and the County of San Bernardino aims to offer a platform for profound economic discussion, forecasting, and strategic future planning.”

Attendees can anticipate not only expert insights into the economy but also networking opportunities and a chance to connect with key business, government, and nonprofit leaders from across the region.

Full event details are available at:

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Webb Investments acquires Silver Creek Industries, an industry leader in modular construction for schools



Webb Investments today announced the launch of a new company, Silver Creek Modular, after acquiring the assets of Silver Creek Industries, a highly respected modular construction company known for bringing innovative, sustainable and cost-effective solutions to the education industry. 

Silver Creek Industries’ existing business, including its employees and its Perris, Calif., manufacturing facility, will remain with the new company, with Webb providing the investment capital, resources and expertise to enhance Silver Creek’s presence in the modular construction marketplace.

The acquisition closed in June of 2023, following Silver Creek Industries’ Chapter 11 filing in the Central Bankruptcy Court of California.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to bring Silver Creek into our family business, and look forward to building on our shared commitment to improving educational opportunities within communities across our region,” said Kiana Webb, CEO of Webb Family Enterprises. “This acquisition aligns with our strategy to invest in established firms that can help us drive community revitalization and inclusive growth, while improving quality of life and increasing economic output.”

Silver Creek Industries was founded in 2004 and has completed more than 1,000 projects in the education, commercial, medical, military, government and multi-family housing markets. More recently, the company’s focus has been on providing high-quality, sustainable modular buildings for schools and educational institutions. Silver Creek Industries is well known for delivering projects on time and on budget, with minimal disruption to school and the community. 

Webb Investments is a privately held, family-owned company focusing on creating a community development ecosystem that drives inclusive, organic growth and transforms the areas they serve. 

For more information on Webb Investments, please visit

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