Sharice Davids is a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin. She also is a lawyer, a former used car dealer, an entrepreneur (Hoka! Coffee), Chair of the board of directors for 12 Clans–Ho-Chunk’s Section 17 holding corporation, MMA fighter, and the Deputy Director for the Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation. Phew.
Sharice Davids is a great example of how one’s journey can take curved routes. After spending many years abroad as a military child, she went to six different colleges before earning her degree. The remarkable thing about this though, is that each transfer was for a specific purpose such as to learn about computers, learn sign language, or play sports at a collegiate level. It was very focused, and contrary to what I think is often perception when people move around to different colleges.
Eventually Sharice earned her degree but it wasn’t long before someone at a coffee shop urged her to go to law school. Sharice attended PLSI in New Mexico prior to law school. While at PLSI, a mentor urged her to apply to Cornell Law School. Sharice doubted whether Cornell was the right school, at the time she had applied only to one. But she was admitted and ultimately went to New York.
After law school, she landed in Kansas City at the law firm now known as Dentons. She learned a lot about the law while at the firm from Steven McSloy. But Sharice also credits McSloy with showing her how to use and maneuver within spaces of power and that she could question people, institutions and even the law. Moreover that she did not have to accept it as it was. She cites this as the most valuable professional lesson she has learned. It is incredibly powerful to learn that you do not have to accept things in the world just because. I think this is a fundamental aspect of being a NextGen Native-that you have the ability to alter the course of your own life, of your career, of your community. Things are not set in stone.
Today, Sharice Davids is the Deputy Director of Thunder Valley CDC. The organization is based on the Pine Ridge Reservation. I am not sure how many other CDC’s exist in Indian Country (let me know in the comments!), but it seems to have great potential. One of Thunder Valley’s current projects is to build a housing community on fee simple land on the reservation that is not HUD housing. Thunder Valley also has a number of programs it operates such as language, workforce development, food sovereignty, and home ownership for residents on the reservation.
The day after this post is published is the 2015 Giving Tuesday. Thunder Valley is participating in its first Giving Tuesday. If you are looking for a non-profit to support, consider supporting Thunder Valley and other Native non-profits!
This podcast could have been much longer, we didn’t even talk about Sharice’s MMA career! To hear everything we did discuss, including her work as a board member, listen to the full episode. I definitely look forward to having her back on the podcast.