Since December 1984 when first elected as Chief of the Osoyoos Indian Band, part of the Okanagan Nation in south central British Columbia, Clarence Joseph Louie has consistently emphasized economic development as a means to improve his people's standard of living. Under his direction (20+ years), the Band has become a multi-faceted corporation that owns and manages nine businesses and employs hundreds of people.
Other achievements under Chief Louie's tenure include the negotiated settlement of three Specific Land Claims, the successful negotiation of over 1,000 acres of lease developments, the acquisition of hundreds of acres of land to add to the reserve, the purchase of a viable off-reserve business, the financing of a major golf course development, the initiation of the Osoyoos Indian Taxation By-law, the financing and building of a new pre-school/daycare and grade school/gymnasium, construction of a new Health Center/Social Services building and in 2008 the building of a 1st class Youth Centre.
As confirmation of the Osoyoos Indian Band's commitment to business, the Band owns and operates nine businesses on the reserve, including:
Although economic development is the means to achieving self-sufficiency, Chief and Council continues to emphasize the importance of maintaining the Okanagan language and culture in all aspects of the band's activities including business. The establishment of the Nk'Mip Desert & Cultural Center is a testament to this commitment of balancing business while investing time and money in culture. This eco-cultural center provides visitors an opportunity to experience the Okanagan culture and explore the desert lands that are a part of their traditional territory. The Nk'Mip Desert & Cultural Center is also an example of the continued growth of the band's businesses.
Chief Louie believes that job creation and increasing business revenue in a responsible manner will bring back what he describes as,
A lifelong student of "Native American Studies", Clarence shares his experiences (Key Note Speaking) and best lessons learned to Native people, Government and Corporate agencies across the U.S and Canada as well as overseas—Australia, in a simple direct business smarts approach, "Every First Nation comes from a working culture. Our ancestors worked hard for a living. Today life is as complicated or messed up as you make it. To improve your quality of life, you either go to school or get a job. Words without action, excuses and blame, leads towards more welfare dependency and poverty. It's hard work and making money that improves one's standard of living and provides for First Nation social needs."
Chief Louie believes that "Aboriginal people and government must make Economic Development—self sustaining job creation and business growth an everyday priority. A real decent paying job that provides real opportunity is the very best social program on any Rez!" The Osoyoos Indian Band's corporate motto is