In 2015 ICTMN introduced the 50 Faces of Indian Country magazine to celebrate the wealth of talented American Indians across Indian country. Last month the second annual issue, 50 Faces of Indian Country 2016, was published to highlight once again the work of a new crop of accomplished individuals and role models—including actors, leaders, and activists—who can offer inspiration to Native youth on a daily basis.
After all, what’s more uplifting than enjoying the positive contributions being made by some of the most talented people on the planet?
Below are the second 10 from 2016’s 50 Faces.
See the full magazine here.
The Mold Breaker: Karen Diver
If there was a search in Indian country for a person who best exemplifies determination and perseverance, Karen R. Diver’s name would be on the list. The former chairwoman of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa in Minnesota stepped down from that position after nine years to serve as the Special Assistant to the President for Native American Affairs in November, 2015. Diver’s career path wasn’t an easy one. It began when she was a 15-year-old single mother struggling to support her daughter while continuing to educate herself. The hard work has certainly paid off. Prior to her role in the White House, Diver served as Vice President of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, and chaired its finance corporation. She was also Director of Special Projects for Fond du Lac. Her 11 years as Executive Director of the YWCA in Duluth saw her working on human rights issues that included early childhood education and reproductive rights. “During my time with the Obama Administration, I have focused on engaging with the federal agency staff that support the White House Council on Native American Affairs. Their commitment to Indian country will survive this Administration and their ambitious efforts will continue to benefit our communities,” Diver told ICTMN. “Consultation and engagement with tribes is also a key part of our work, ensuring that Indian country has a voice in the policymaking process.”
The Health Giver: Patricia Parker
Patricia Parker, a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, is dedicated to giving back to Indian country. She was raised in the small Indian community of Kulli Tuklo until age 5, when her family relocated to Idabell, Oklahoma. She followed in her father Gabe Parker’s footsteps: “We’re second-generation Indian Health Service (IHS) and second-generation working for Indian people,” she says. She became the IHS director of communications, meanwhile gaining keen insight into the administration of federal contracts. This experience led her to found Native American Management Services (NAMS) with her sister, Tonya Parker, in 1992. NAMS leads training and technical assistance, and handles conference and media management with the Administration for Native Americans, Indian housing and tribal child care. Last year, the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma through Miami Nation Enterprises bought a majority stake in NAMS. Parker continues to serve as CEO. Throughout her 24 years of leading NAMS, Parker has remained steadfast in her dedication to financial and business transparency. The number-one piece of advice she gives to new entrepreneurs and small businesses is “find your passion... and a good accountant.” In 2011, she was asked to join the board of the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development. Parker is instrumental in “organizational development and business process management. Those are things that I love to do.”
The Health Warrior: Jo Ann Kauffman
Jo Ann Kauffman, a prominent Nez Perce tribal member, overcame poverty and a difficult childhood to become a nationally recognized advocate for Indian health and justice. In 1990, she founded Kauffman & Associates, Inc. (KAI), based on Capitol Hill and in Spokane, Washington. The firm has about 40 contracts with tribes; tribal organizations; foundations; private-sector businesses; and regional, state and federal agencies. She is particularly proud of KAI’s work that empowers youth and fights to turn the tide on substance abuse, suicide, violence and bullying in Indian country. Prior to founding KAI, she worked in the field of Indian healthcare for many years, including serving as executive director of the Seattle Indian Health Board, and also founding the National Association for Native American Children of Alcoholics. She holds a Master of Public Health from the University of California at Berkeley.
The Fresh Face: Forrest Goodluck
Despite being just 18, Forrest Goodluck is already a veteran of community theater, having been on stage since the age of 10. And this year, he took a huge step forward in his acting career, making his major film debut in one of the biggest pictures of the year, The Revenant, which starred Leonardo DiCaprio. Goodluck plays the part of Hawk, the half-Pawnee son of Hugh Glass (played by DiCaprio). Goodluck, a member of the Diné, Mandan, Hidatsa and Tsimshian tribes, is just graduating high school and is hoping to take his film career to new heights, and in the name of Indigenous Peoples worldwide. As he recently told ICTMN, his advice for young aspiring actors is this: “For the kids out there who have a passion they want to pursue, just go for it and take it as far as you can go. People will always say there are obstacles, especially for a lot of brown youth out there. Yes, you are going to have to hustle and work a little bit harder then the people you usually see on screen now, but it is important to know that it is possible.” – V.S.
The Gymnast:Ashton Locklear
Ashton Locklear, Lumbee, is an 18-year-old gymnast who has already claimed seven national and world titles in the uneven bars. Even though her first championship was a state-level competition at age 5, Locklear considers her career as a gymnast beginning at age 11. She was one of three alternates on the U.S. Olympic team that competed at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro this summer. As she told ICTMN on her way to the Olympics, “Indian country is in my heart! There has never been a Lumbee gymnast at the Olympics... I hope to make them all proud and to bring recognition to my people. I’m so appreciative of my parents for all that they do to help make it possible for me to pursue my dreams. Without their support none of this would have been possible! My mother works at my gym to pay for my tuition and competition expenses. She drives me to and from my gym every day and sees that I have what I need to help make this journey a success.”
The Growth Specialists: Ted & Russell Pedro
Ted Pedro says helping the Native American private sector grow has been the greatest achievement of his storied career. Born and raised on the Laguna Pueblo, Village of Paraje, he earned his bachelor’s degree in business management from Western New Mexico University, and soon after began assisting the All Indian Pueblo Council with its business center. In 2004, he became executive director of the American Indian Chamber of Commerce of New Mexico (AICCNM). AICCNM assists small business with government certifications, and helps members and clients with loan and financial packaging, lines-of-credit, bonding, insurance, procurement assistance and packaging, exporting and networking. In 2007, with the assistance of his son, Russell Pedro, AICCNM’s business development specialist, he launched a Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Business Center in Santa Fe. Russell Pedro’s motto guides his work: “Access to capital, plus access to opportunities, equals job creation and economic development.” He joined the American Indian Chamber of Commerce, New Mexico in 2005 and has played a vital role in developing the MBDA Business Center in Santa Fe, which provides minority entrepreneurs and businesses with the expertise and tools to succeed. “I love what I do,” he says. “I am passionate about Native small businesses.” Beyond advising Native-owned small business, Russell is devoted to promoting youth entrepreneurship and empowering future leaders. In May, the Chamber held its 3rd Annual Youth ‘Impact’ Initiative Conference, hosted in conjunction with its Annual New Mexico Native American Economic Summit. High school and college students from across New Mexico attended business sessions and competed in a ‘Shark Tank’ Business Plan Competition that challenges students to write a 10-page business or service plan to satisfy a need, solve a problem or create a demand in their community. “Our Youth ‘Impact’ Initiative has been my biggest undertaking and proudest accomplishment,” he says.
The Sovereignty Fighter: Jacqueline Pata
Jacqueline Pata, Tlingit, has served as executive director of the National Congress of American Indians for more than 10 years, and is vice president of the Central Council of the Tlingit-Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska. She also served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Native American Programs of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development during former President Bill Clinton’s tenure. Pata lobbies for Native American interest on Capitol Hill, and is an invaluable member of her home community in helping to establish culture camps and language programs, and fights tirelessly for tribal sovereignty across the United States. “Indian country is extraordinary. It is true that we have our challenges, but we are demonstrating that when we show our inherent resolve, when we exhibit our boundless ingenuity, and when we unite as one, we can achieve great things for our tribal nations,” Pata tells ICTMN. “There is more to be done, and that pushes me and my NCAI colleagues to continue working hard to advance tribal sovereignty and self-determination for the benefit of the generations to come.” – S.L-R
The Diversifier: Lance Morgan
In 1994, the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska invested $8 million in the tribally owned economic development corporation Ho-Chunk Inc, looking to diversify its business ventures beyond gaming. Lance Morgan, who graduated from Harvard Law School in 1993, was appointed CEO (and is currently president) of that entity. In 1995, the firm’s first full year of operations, revenue totaled $182,301. Today, annual revenue exceeds $260 million, and the company employs over 1,000 employees, with operations in 16 states and eight international countries. Ho-Chunk operates 35 subsidiaries in information technology, construction, government contracting, green energy, retail, wholesale distribution, marketing and transportation. Most recently, Morgan began turning 40 acres of the reservation into a mixed use development center featuring commercial and residential areas. The tribe is creating opportunities for homeownership for its 5,500 members with new single-family homes and multi-family housing options.
The Storyteller: Sherman Alexie
Sherman Alexie (Spokane/Coeur D’alene) may be best known for his oft-banned novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, but the prolific writer has racked up impressive work in multiple genres — as a poet, short story writer, novelist and performer. A recipient of numerous literary awards, Alexie has published 25 books, the most recent being his first picture book, Thunder Boy Jr. He wrote the novel Smoke Signals, and penned the screenplay for the film adaptation of that, which won several awards at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival. He also wrote and directed the 2002 movie The Business of Fancydancing. This year, he was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. “Thank you for this great honor,” Alexie told ICTMN via e-mail, when informed that he was to be honored in 50 Faces of Indian Country. “To paraphrase that non-indigenous thinker, Jung, I hope my stories and poems continue to kindle light in the darkness. And to paraphrase Thomas Builds-the-Fire, I’ll keep telling stories even if only stray dogs are listening.”
The Numbers Wizard: Sean McCabe
Sean McCabe, Navajo, CPA, runs an accounting and consulting firm based in Albuquerque that exclusively serves clients in Indian country, including his tribe. He works with about 20 tribal governments, Native-owned businesses, Indian-owned casinos, Indian schools and Native media across Idaho, Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico and Oklahoma. “First and foremost, I love working with my people,” McCabe says. “I love going into a tribal enterprise and coaching them on best practices, following compliance issues and accounting standards.” McCabe co-founded Anuskewicz & McCabe, P.C. in 2006, and recently started hinting about an expansion of services. “There will be some news about where the firm’s going shortly,” he says. McCabe co-owns Native Payroll Services, LLC, the only Native-owned payroll processing company in the U.S., and serves on the board of directors for NOVA Corporation and the Notah Begay III Foundation. “Outside of my professional work, my life revolves around my children [8 and 6 years old] and my wife,” he says. McCabe is also a guitar maven and says he’s on the lookout to join a rock band.
RELATED: 50 Faces of Indian Country 2016, I
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