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The Art of Safety: AMERIND Announces Youth Winners of National Safety Poster Contest

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Native students from across the country put their creative skills to good cause with beautiful poster illustrations promoting safety, as part of AMERIND Risk’s 2017 National Safety Poster Contest. AMERIND announced the contest winners at its Awards Banquet Ceremony on Wednesday, June 28, during the 2017 AMERIND Risk | National American Indian Housing Council (NAIHC) Annual Convention & Tradeshow, hosted June 27-29 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Students submitted their posters to their individual housing authority in one of nine districts. Each region voted and picked its best candidates for grade categories K-3, 4-6 and 7-8. Then the public weighed in at to choose the top three poster contest winners. AMERIND awarded each winner $1,000 each.

The winners include:

Grades K-3: James Bent (Colville Indian Housing Authority)

Grades 4-6: Alishon Kelly (Salish & Kootenai Housing Authority)

Grades 7-8: Kai Sheyka (Zuni Housing Authority)

AMERIND launched its poster contest 25 years ago, awarding $1,000 to each of the three winners annually. AMERIND has given a total of $75,000 to contest winners since 1993.


Posters emphasized fire prevention and warning Indian Country of the dangers of texting while driving. That said, the topics of students’ works of art, which doubled as public service announcements, ran the gamut. Some youth honed in on the importance of lifejackets on the lake, mindfulness about the ergonomics of working at a computer, as well as reporting cyberbullying. Check out other submissions at

Texting While Driving AMERIND

Texting while driving impairs the driver to the same extent as a 0.08% blood alcohol content. Texting while driving threatens the lives of the driver and others on the road.

Preventing home and wildland fires has consistently been a core focus of AMERIND’s National Safety Poster Contest. Fires caused roughly $48 million in damages to Tribal housing and property insured by AMERIND Risk over the past five years. Once a fire starts, most homes in Indian Country burn to the ground in a matter of minutes. Key factors exacerbate the vulnerability of homes in Indian Country, such as a lack of fire hydrants on some reservations, far distances from the nearest fire station, and sometimes slower response times from volunteer fire departments. Hence, spreading knowledge about fire prevention is critical.

The poster contest is part of AMERIND’s safety mission to educate youth, who are the future leaders of Indian Country, as well as Native families and communities, about the importance of protecting against avoidable accident and disaster.

Texting while driving impairs the driver to the same extent as a 0.08% blood alcohol content. Texting while driving threatens the lives of the driver and others on the road.

More than 67,000 wildfires burned across 5.5 million U.S. acres in 2016, destroying more than 3,000 homes. If you see or suspect a wildfire—or any other potential emergency situation—call 9-1-1 immediately.

AMERIND Risk counts more than three decades of service with a tireless devotion to protecting Tribal families and homes—the heart of Indian Country. As an organization built by more than 400 Tribes in 1986, AMERIND Risk is committed to its mission of “Tribes Protecting Tribes.”

Also at the Awards Banquet Ceremony at the joint convention in June, both AMERIND and NAIHC honored individuals who have gone above and beyond to serve Indian Country.

Joel M. Frank, Sr.

AMERIND Chairman Greg Borene recognized Joel M. Frank Sr.'s longtime service on the AMERIND Board at the awards banquet.

AMERIND recognized Joel M. Frank Sr. (Seminole), a former AMERIND Risk Board of Directors Chairman, for his outstanding service. Frank currently serves as Vice President on the American Indian Graduate Center (AIGC) Board. Frank's distinguished leadership positions have included serving as president of the National Indian Gaming Association, president of the United South and Eastern Tribes, Inc., and as a member of the Florida Civil Right Commission, to name a few.

AMERIND also celebrated the service of Jack Sawyers, who served on the AMERIND Board from 1994-1998 and 2004-2016, with a Wayne Ducheneaux lifetime achievement award. Sharon Vogel (Region 3) nominated Sawyer, then a retired board member alternate with Region 5, for the Wayne Ducheneaux award. Sawyers passed away on March 4, 2017 and his son Justin accepted the award on his father’s behalf.

Once a high school teacher and football coach in Cedar City, Utah, Sawyers played a vital role in shaping his community by opening Cedar City’s Main Street movie theater and Fiddlers Theater, which he owned and managed for 25 years. Sawyers additionally served as Mayor of Cedar City from 1978-81. While running the theater, he accepted a job as housing director of Paiute Housing Authority, diligently serving his tribe for 28 years and earning the housing authority numerous national awards and recognitions.

Jack Sawyers

AMERIND honored Jack Sawyers with a Wayne Ducheneaux lifetime achievement award.

Ducheneaux, the award’s namesake, served as Executive Director for the Cheyenne River Housing Authority for 17 years, and as Chairman of the Cheyenne River Tribe from 1974 to 1978, and again from 1986 to 1990. He was elected President of NCAI in 1989 and served two terms. Ducheneaux’s accomplishments on behalf of not only his people but indigenous peoples throughout the country and world are too numerous to list. The Wayne Ducheneaux Award is intended to recognize the leadership and service of members who are active within AMERIND Risk. Award winners advance the mission, goals and purposes of AMERIND and positively impact AMERIND’s programs, activities and /or services.

NAIHC also wanted to recognize this person by awarding a second George Nolan award to Jack Sawyers. He was nominated by Stuart Langdeau, a NAIHC board member for Region III (including North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa), and Grants and Development Coordinator for the Lower Brule Housing Authority.

NAIHC also honored:

Marty Shuravloff, 2017 George Nolan Award for Outstanding Lifetime Service

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Named in honor of George Nolan (Sault Ste. Marie Band of Chippewa), NAIHC Chairman from 1988 to 1992, this award celebrates “Outstanding Lifetime Service” and Nolan’s highly spiritual energy behind uniting groups and making the case for Indian housing. He passed away in 2004, but as Chairman of the Sault Ste. Marie Housing Authority in Michigan, he left a legacy of warmth and passion that still inspires those who knew him.

Marty Shuravloff was named Board Vice-Chair of the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation in November 2015. He also serves as the Executive Director of the Kodiak Island Housing Authority. Shuravloff has been a Director of Alaska Housing Finance Corporation since February 2000.

Shuravloff was nominated for the George Nolan Award by Kodiak Island Housing Authority and the Association of Alaska Housing Authorities.

Charlene Naef Awarded NAIHC��s Virginia Kizer Award for Outstanding Lifetime Service

Charlene Naef, Secreteary of the Karuk Tribe Housing Authority, was nominated by Sara Spence, Executive Director of the Karuk Tribe Housing Authority. The award’s namesake, Virginia Kizer (Washoe) was a strong Indian housing advocate with more than a quarter century of experience when she passed away in 2002. As Executive Director of the Washoe Housing Authority in Nevada, she is remembered as someone who was always able to overcome obstacles. From 1988 to 1998, she served on the NAIHC Board of Directors.

In Memoriam

Paul Iron Cloud, Sr. - Tasunke Ota (His Many Horses)

Paul Iron Cloud, Sr. - Tasunke Ota (His Many Horses)

Unfortunately, this year, Indian Country lost a number of long-time leaders in Tribal housing, including Paul Iron Cloud, Sr. - Tasunke Ota (His Many Horses), former NAIHC and United Native American Housing Association (UNAHA) board member, former Executive Director of the Ogala Sioux Housing Authority and former CEO of Oglala Sioux (Lakota) Housing (OSLH), a successor entity. In the 1980s, Iron Cloud served as an Oglala Sioux Tribal Councilman and Tribal President and was a Traditional Chief of the Porcupine District. Iron Cloud passed away on February 18, 2017, at the age of 76, after decades of service as a successful Tribal leader and one of the best housing advocates for Indian Country. Iron Cloud was awarded the George Nolan Award a few years ago. AMERIND honored Cloud’s service with another 2017 Wayne Ducheneaux Award. The plaque read: “In recognition of your leadership and service in protecting Tribal Sovereignty, Life and Property within Indian Country, AMERIND Board of Directors”. David Heisterkamp, an attorney who has represented OSLH for many years and defends Tribal housing rights for Wagenlander & Heisterkamp, LLC, received the award on Iron Cloud’s behalf as a representative of UNAHA, OSLH, and Region 3.

About AMERIND Risk

AMERIND Risk was founded more than 30 years ago by more than 400 Tribes who united and pooled their resources to create AMERIND Risk to keep Indian money within Indian Country. AMERIND Risk provides property, liability and workers’ compensation insurance for Tribes, Tribal governments, Tribal businesses, as well as individual property coverage and employee benefits. It is the only 100% Tribally owned and operated insurance provider committed to Indian Country. In 2016, AMERIND launched a new business line AMERIND Critical Infrastructure (ACI), which helps Tribes obtain high-speed Internet. To learn more about Tribes Protecting Tribes or for an insurance quote, go to

Video: AMERIND Risk’s 30 Years

In June, AMERIND Risk also released a video titled “AMERIND Risk’s 30 Years,” celebrating its three decades of success serving Indian Country. The video explores why and how AMERIND Risk formed in 1986, its evolution and expanded services, and why AMERIND’s purpose as a public risk-pool of “Tribes Protecting Tribes” is integral to Tribal sovereignty and the collective self-determination of Indian Country. It’s told through the voices of AMERIND Risk executives including CEO Derek Valdo (Acoma Pueblo) and Chief Strategy Officer Geoffrey Blackwell (Muscogee (Creek)), among others. The video about AMERIND’s history offers insight into the people behind the business built by and for Tribes. AMERIND’s team is invested in sustaining and growing Tribal Nations. “Many times our elders talk about preparing for the next seven generations, preparing for the future. AMERIND has the same vision and passion,” Valdo says in the video.

Watch the video at