Electric car pleases American Indian group

SAN DIEGO, Calif. - A gathering of American Indian business leaders praised General Motors Corp. for its attention to environmental issues.

Members of the National Indian Business Association presented GM officials with the first-ever Environmental Stewardship Award for its commitment to preserving the environment.

GM's electric car, the EV1, was the star attraction at the association's annual business and trade show conference here. "Native Americans in Technologies: The Future of Success" gathered American Indian leaders from the business and technology world.

"The environment, our lands, air, water and natural resources are a sacred part of Indian culture, said Peter Homer, NIBA president and CEO.

"Balancing the environment with our social and economic needs will continue to challenge all of us as we pursue jobs and economic development in the 21st century. Our commitment, however, to environmental preservation and conservation will not waiver."

The conference emphasized the need for quick communications using new and emerging technologies to acquire the ability to create new and expand existing businesses in Indian country. The award to General Motors and the contact with companies like that are what will help development of businesses in Indian country, Homer said.

"Our rural Indian and reservation communities will look to you, our Native business leaders, for the creative solutions and information technology that will swing open the doors of economic prosperity in Indian country.

"We have the talent and we have the vision. Now we must provide the leadership. Now we must provide the technology, the information tools that will build the bridge across the digital divide."

The award to General Motors represents not only attention to environmental issues, but to economic growth and establishment in Indian country, said Dennis R. Minano, vice president and chief environmental officer for GM.

"Environmental stewardship is an important challenge and a goal you really need to set out for yourself," Minano said. He added that environmental stewardship requires a vision of the future. "If I may quote from the Great Law of the Iroquois Confederacy, 'In every deliberation we must consider the impact of our decision on the next seven generations.' And I can tell you we don't claim that we can actually see that far in the future."

General Motors is a leader in the development of technology that is environmentally friendly, Homer said. GM created the catalytic converter and has introduced the first electric car to consumers.

"GM has been a leader in the forefront of land preservation and conservation and environmental protection," Homer said.

The NIBA promotes Indian-owned businesses through education, training and communication and is a resource and clearing house for the more than 24,000 American Indian-owned businesses.