Honoring the Spirit Awards Dinner

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NEW YORK – A who’s who of New York City’s American Indian community turned out for the Honoring of the Spirit Awards Dinner at the National Arts Club Ballroom in the Gramercy Park section of Manhattan. The event, organized by the American Indian Community House honored members of the community who have demonstrated exceptional work locally, nationally and internationally.

The honorees included Lisa Mayo and Gloria Miguel of the Spiderwoman Theater; Mohawk Chief Tom Porter; Tonya Gonnella Frichner, president and founder of the American Indian Law Alliance and North American regional representative to the United Nations Permanent Forum on indigenous issues; Aiyana Smith-William founder of the Shinnecock Youth Tribal Council; James Morton, founder of the Interfaith Center of New York and president of the Temple of Understanding; and Rosemary Richmond, former executive director of the AICH, received the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Richmond has seen the organization through rough times and had to pack up and relocate more than five times in her 27 years as director. “It was never a hardship or a struggle; it was just a way of life.”

Her presence was not just as boss or director. “When you would go to her with a problem she was always there to listen; it felt like talking to your mom; like everything is going to be all right,” said Tiokasin Ghosthorse, a Lakota who moved to New York City in 2003 from South Dakota.

As the AICH celebrates its 40th anniversary, the board is looking forward to creating new events and programs that will further its commitment to servicing the American Indian community of New York City.

Board Member Harlan Pruden, a Cree from Saddle Lake First Nations said, “New York City has the largest community of urban Native people in the country. The Community House now must reflect that mixture, a blend of urban Native and rural Native.”