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Winners span entrepreneurs, tribes, Native leaders, elected officials, and corporate business leaders who have made significant contributions to Indian Country

March 27, 2018MESA, AZ – The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development (The National Center) recently honored deserving individuals, tribes, and businesses during the 42nd annual INPRO Awards Gala at the Reservation Economic Summit (RES) in Las Vegas. INPRO is the oldest and most prestigious Native American event that acknowledges the accomplishments and contributions made by Native Americans and Alaska Natives to their broader community, as well as those who support their economic and business development endeavors. Northrop Grumman sponsored the 2018 INPRO Awards Gala, and 2017 Miss Alaska and Miss USA Contestant Alyssa London emceed the event while musical act Levi & The Plateros provided live entertainment. 12 awardees were honored.

“The National Center and the work we do would not be possible without the entrepreneurs, advocates, and corporate leaders who work every day to advance our economic interests,” said Chris James, President and CEO of the National Center. “The 2018 INPRO class is an impressive and deserving group that spans Indian Country, as well as those who work tirelessly on our behalf. We are thrilled to honor these winners and their achievements and look forward to their continued contributions to the Native American and Alaska Native community.”

The 2018 INPRO awardees are:

Native Woman Business Owner of The Year: Crystal Echo Hawk; Echo Hawk Consulting, Pawnee Nation. Longmont, CO. This award is in recognition of outstanding leadership, management, quality performance and commitment to excellence as a successful Native American woman business owner.

Tribal Gaming Visionary Award: Leonard Forsman, Chairman of the Suquamish TribeSuquamish, WA. This award is in recognition of leadership demonstrated in the tribal gaming sector and efforts to advance opportunity for American Indian owned businesses.

Tim Wapato Public Advocate of The Year: Awarded posthumously to Pete Homer, Jr., Colorado River Indian Tribes; Parker, AZ. This award is in recognition of outstanding leadership in support of American Indian business and economic development.

Volunteer of The Year: The American Indian Business Association (AIBA) at The University of New Mexico; Albuquerque, NM This award is in recognition of the significant amount of time, energy and resources devoted by an individual to the advancement of the National Center and its mission of advancing the American Indian and Tribal business sectors.

First American Corporate Leadership Award: Lockheed Martin; Bethesda, MD. The First American Corporate Leadership Award is presented to a U.S. corporation whose leadership has demonstrated an exemplary commitment to economic progress for Indian Country. The awardee will have demonstrated consistent and strong support and commitment of the American Indian community.

Corporate Advocate of The Year: Nike, Inc. (N7 Program); Accepting on behalf of N7 was the program’s general manager, Sam McCracken. Beaverton, OR. This award recognizes the leadership team of a Corporation for demonstrating a sincere commitment to growing business opportunities for American Indian and Alaska Native owned companies and thusly, bettering the economy of Indian Country for future generations to come.

First American Entrepreneurship Award: Sean Sherman; Oglala Lakota Nation. Minneapolis, MN.This award is in recognition business owner who has demonstrated to the American Indian and/or Alaska Native community excellent entrepreneurial spirit through the establishment of a successful business.

Small Business Empowerment Award: Ivan Sorbel; Executive Director of the Pine Ridge Area Chamber of Commerce and President of the South Dakota Governor’s Tourism Advisory Board, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. Kyle, SD. This award is in recognition of leadership demonstrated in the business community and in acknowledgement of dedication to improving opportunity for American Indian owned businesses in the recipients community and across Indian Country.

American Indian Leadership Award: Nick Tilsen, Executive Director of Thunder Valley Community Development Coporation; Oglala Lakota Nation, Porcupine, SD. This award is in recognition of outstanding leadership in support of American Indian business and economic development endeavors in tribal communities.

American Indian Business of The Year: Tocabe Restaurant; Awarded to owner Ben Jacobs, Osage Nation. Denver, CO. This award is in acknowledgement of the success of an American Indian or tribal Nation owned business and its demonstration of excellent corporate citizenship.

Congressional Achievement Award: Congresswoman Norma Torres, D-CA. This award is in recognition of outstanding leadership by a member of the United States Congress and in appreciation that member’s support of American Indian business and economic development endeavors of tribal communities, Alaska Native villages and American Indian and Alaska Native entrepreneurs.

Jay Silverheels Achievement Award: Mark Trahant, Editor of Indian Country Today; Shoshone-Bannock Tribe. Washington, DC. The Jay Silverheels Achievement Award is presented each year to an American Indian man or woman who has achieved personal and professional success while making significant contributions to the community. The awardee will have demonstrated a lifetime advocacy of American Indian issues while adhering to American Indian values.

For highlights of RES 2018, or to learn about RES 2019, which is moving to Paris Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, please visit The National Center’s website.

About The National Center: The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. With over 40 years of assisting American Indian Tribes and their enterprises with business and economic development – we have evolved into the largest national Indian specific business organization in the nation. Our motto is: “We Mean Business For Indian Country” as we are actively engaged in helping Tribal Nations and Native business people realize their business goals and are dedicated to putting the whole of Indian Country to work to better the lives of American Indian people- both now… and for generations to come.

CONTACT: Lewis Lowe, 202-333-2234 lewisl@strategies360.com