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About Us

Origination of

4-Directions Development, Inc. 

In 2011, Steven StandingCloud, with the Red Lake Nation College at the time, contacted Sharon James to come and provide an entrepreneurship class for the Red Lake Nation. After completing her 9-week class, those with their business plans in hand asked, “what next?”


Steven then went to the Tribal Council and obtained approval for Sharon James to be hired to establish a Red Lake Entrepreneur Program. As the newly hired Business Development Manager, Sharon was put under the Economic Development & Planning Department with a $100,000 annual budget.  Her Supervisor and EDP Director, Samuel Strong and Admin Assistant, Kathy Dudley, were instrumental in guiding her through the Tribe’s processes and resources needed to establish the entrepreneurial services.

Sharon established a Program Operating Manual approved by Tribal Council in February of 2012. She obtained approval for $275,000 from the Seven Clans Casino’s Diversification Fund, used to establish the Red Lake Entrepreneur Loan Fund. In 2019, added an additional $200,000 to the Revolving Loan Fund with a grant from the Blandin Foundation; reaching a $475,000 revolving loan fund.


After seeing an extensive number of artists coming through the office her first year, Sharon established the Arts Initiative in 2013. The initiative focused on the needs of the local Red Lake artists, with a list of 100 artists compiled.  The Initiatives’ purpose is to help artists expand their capacity, reach their markets, show how artists are a strong economic contributor to the local economy, and to help retain our traditional artistry by teaching our youth.  Larry Stillday stated in one of the program’s art festival planning meetings, “we need to wake up our ancestors in our youth." Thus was born the name “Honoring Our Ancestors Art Festival."


Chairman Seki, after becoming Tribal Chairman, held community input meetings in each of the 4 Red Lake communities. After reading the notes from those meetings, Sharon picked up on community members asking for more access to affordable healthy foods. From this community demand Sharon established the Red Lake Foods Initiative in 2016 to help develop entrepreneurs as local food producers. These entrepreneurs would help provide access to affordable healthy foods, help decrease diet related health issues, and add the Ag Industry as a method to help circulate more dollars into the local Red Lake Nation economy. The foods initiative would not be as successful as it has become without the help of the entrepreneur program’s originating team:  consisting of Cherilyn Spears, David Manuel, and Michael VanHorn.


The goal of the “Initiative Model” is to develop specific industry nonprofits that will branch off from 4-Directions Development. These nonprofits will continue to serve the Red Lake Nation with their specific industry opportunities.  Developing additional nonprofits as part of the community will expand the capacity of the local economy while 4-Directions Development continues to focus on entrepreneurial development and financing.


On August 9, 2016, the entrepreneur program became known as 4-Directions Development, Inc. (4DD) after obtaining nonprofit status under Red Lake Tribal Statutes and obtained 501c3 status with the federal government. In 2019, 4DD began physically separating from the Tribe: moving into their own office space, starting to take on some of their own expenditures, and applying for grants under the 4DD name. In 2021, 4DD cut the remaining connections with the Tribe, taking on its own accounting system, payroll, and insurance needs.  Before making that final move to separate, 4DD and the Tribe established an MOU outlining how the Tribe would continue to support 4DD’s entrepreneurial efforts for the Red Lake Nation.

Workshops, Classes and Events:

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