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$75,000 given to support Indian education

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PHOENIX – The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians of California follows a cultural tradition of generosity taught to them by their ancestors. In their Native language amuyich is the term used to describe the belief of caring for one’s neighbor and community. The tribe gave a generous philanthropic gift of $75,000 to the Native American Finance Officers Association to support education.

“We are incredibly grateful for the generosity of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians. This grant will help us to build the next generation of financial leaders in Indian country,” said Bill Lomax, NAFOA president. The grant will be used to support Native American high school students attending the LEAD Summer Business Institute, to provide scholarships to college and graduate students studying business and finance and other NAFOA educational initiatives.

Over the past two years, nearly 40 Native American high school students have learned about careers in business and finance at prestigious universities including Dartmouth College, Northwestern University and Stanford University. Students spend three weeks on campus taking challenging courses in economics, finance, accounting and marketing. They engage in business competitions and corporate site visits to Google and Apple, among others.

“The most exciting part of the program is the Native American segment when tribal leaders and other financial professionals share with students how business can help tribal communities,” said Tashina Etter, deputy executive director at NAFOA.

The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians has been deeply involved with NAFOA’s education programs. Each year, the tribal treasurer, Eldon Shiffman, interacts with students in the LEAD program through a hands-on case study on one of the tribe’s hotels. Students make decisions on how to market the hotel and provide revenue projections. Afterward, Shiffman reveals the business decisions the tribe actually took. “It is a great way for students to think critically and engage in real life decisions,” Etter said.

NAFOA has given nearly $40,000 in scholarships over the past three years to Native American students across the country. Robert Gonzales, a Chumash descendant and former officer in the U.S. Navy is pursuing a degree in business administration and received a scholarship award. Santa Ynez Tribal Chairman Vincent Armenta reflected upon the teachings of his ancestors, “It is our greatest honor to serve our community. By doing so we continue to walk the good path that has been paved for us and keep the ways of our ancestors close.”

Interested individuals may download applications for the LEAD Summer Business Institute and learn more about NAFOA’s education programs by visiting the organization’s website. Application Deadline: Jan. 20, 2011.