American Indian firm wins pact

Wyandotte NetTel

An Oklahoma-based telecommunications and information technology services provider won a federal contract potentially worth $100 million earlier this month in what may be the largest award ever to a company fully owned by American Indians.

Wyandotte NetTel, owned by the Wyandotte Nation of Oklahoma, will provide hardware and software installation, telecommunications services, project management and more under the five-year contract. The company, previously known as Wyandotte Network Communications, is a Small Business Administration-certified 8(a) firm, as well as a participant in SBA's HUBZone (Historically UnderutilizedBusiness Zone) program.

GovWorks, a fee-for-service acquisitions provider to federal agencies that is managed by the Interior Department's Minerals Management Service (MMS), negotiated the contract. David Sutfin, chief of procurement operations for GovWorks, said the award is good news for members of the Wyandotte Nation.

"The beauty of this is that it will in fact end up helping the Wyandotte tribe and that the profits from it will go back and help the community," he said. "It's a fantastic opportunity for the Wyandotte tribe to prove its economic independence."

Under Chief Leaford Bearskin, leader of the Wyandotte Nation and president of Wyandotte NetTel, the company has donated funds to support education, housing and health-related projects.

Bearskin attended a signing ceremony at Interior's headquarters, along with MMS and Bureau of Indian Affairs officials. Bearskin, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who flew 46 combat missions during World War II, has led the Wyandotte Nation since 1983.

"This [contract] is a wonderful opportunity for the tribe," said Jim Madden, director of sales and marketing for Wyandotte NetTel. "We're going to market it as hard as we can."

Although the company has won multimillion-dollar contracts in the past, this one is its biggest catch, he said. SBA's Oklahoma City regional office was instrumental in helping the company secure the contract, Madden said. Company officials spent about nine months working on it.

Wyandotte NetTel will offer an array of services in order to reach the $100 million ceiling of the indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract, Sutfin said. "It's a very wide-open, solutions-based contract," he said. "It has a lot of flexibility."

The company and GovWorks will market the contract across the federal government, he said, and in particular to MMS' sister agency, BIA. Wyandotte NetTel has previously worked with agencies including the Agriculture Department and the Navy's Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command.

Madden stressed that the $100 million figure only represents the maximum amount the company can obtain. With no minimum guarantees, the company knows it's only at the starting line, he said.

"The fun part was signing it," he said. "Now the hard work begins."

Company history

Wyandotte Tribal Petroleum Inc. was established in 1991 after the Wyandotte tribe of Oklahoma applied to the Small Business Administration for certification as a participant in the 8(a) program for small and disadvantaged minority businesses. In 1995, the company formed a division, Wyandotte Network Communications (later renamed Wyandotte NetTel), as a reseller of telecommunications equipmentand services.

The profits from Wyandotte NetTel and its parent company have helpedt he tribe provide day care and preschool services, scholarships, housingand medical care.

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