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NAFOA: Sharing a vested interest in finances

PHOENIX - Bill Lomax, president of the Native American Finance Officers Association, said that the pattern of the stock market today affects American Indian tribes and communities.

Lomax, a member of the Gitxsan Nation, said that is why it;s important for him and his colleagues to gather for the 2008 Spring NAFOA conference March 25 - 27 at the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation's U.S. Grant Hotel in San Diego, Calif.

He said activities in the financial world - such as the recent downfall of Bear, Stearns & Co., one of the largest global investment banks and securities trading and brokerage firms in the world - affect Native tribes across the country.

The NAFOA conference enables financial officers, tribal leaders and those with a vested interest in the finances of the American Indian community to learn and share different aspects of the financial world. Conference topics range from the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians taking the lead in being a tax-exempt tribe, innovative economic development and diversification, casino accounting and reporting, and how to be an effective tribal finance director.

Other topics include making sense of the Pension Protection Act; fiduciary responsibilities for tribal council members, how to formalize governance of investment management for tribes and creating homes in Indian country.

Lomax noted that conference highlights include a keynote address by Elouise Cobell, executive director of the Native American Community Development Corp., and Carl Artman, Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, Department of the Interior.

He said he estimates that about 400 people are scheduled to attend the conference, and he believes the conference is organized to serve tribal leaders and officials.

This year's NAFOA conference is scheduled to have its inaugural Financial Leadership Awards dinner celebration March 26, where categories include the Chief Financial Officer of the Year award, the Financial Literary award and Deal of the Year.

Lomax explained that the Deal of the Year award is categorized into a small-, medium- and large-size ''Deal of the Year.''

He said NAFOA will celebrate its 26th anniversary this year, and that it has grown since its beginning. Lomax, who grew up in a small town in British Columbia, has worked for Smith Barney/Citigroup in New York, where he focused on bringing financial services to American Indian communities. After working for Smith Barney/Citigroup, Lomax worked for Merrill Lynch.

For further information on attending NAFOA's Spring Finance Conference, visit www.nafoa.org.