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Napolitano receives NCAI leadership award

SALT RIVER INDIAN COMMUNITY, Ariz. - Diane Enos, president of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, presented Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano with a National Congress of American Indians Governmental Leadership Award plaque during a Governor's Tribal Leadership Roundtable discussion March 14 at the Salt River Community Building.

''This is in recognition of extraordinary service to the Native American people of Arizona,'' Enos said as she addressed more than 75 roundtable members representing 31 tribal leaders from 15 tribes, and 35 state officials and staff.

Napolitano was recognized at the leadership awards banquet during NCAI's recent Executive Council Winter Session in Washington, D.C., but was unable to attend.

Enos, who attended that event, said it was ''an honor'' to have her tribe, the Salt River Indian Community, host the discussion. She accepted the award on Napolitano's behalf.

More than 500 tribal leaders gathered March 3 - 5 in the nation's capital for the NCAI Executive Council Winter Session to focus on Indian country's legislative goals.

Napolitano accepted the NCAI award on behalf of the Arizona governor's office.

''It's [my staff's] work,'' she said, highlighting the work of her policy adviser on tribal affairs, Marnie Hodahkwen.

According to NCAI literature, Napolitano was given the award ''in appreciation of your effort to strengthen state-tribal relations through enhanced dialogue between tribe and state governors and for the example you have set for the nation through your service to the tribes in Arizona.''

''It's great to be back at Salt River,'' Napolitano said. ''I'm glad to see this turnout. The people around the table have changed, but the issues are the same.''

She added that she makes an effort to work ''always in a spirit of a government-to-government relationship, a real consultation,'' among American Indian tribes.

Napolitano added that she is ''results-oriented'' and stressed that she, her staff and the tribes ''come together on a leadership basis'' for this roundtable discussion.

Those honored by NCAI are recognized for their outstanding service to American Indian people and their ongoing support of initiatives that promote sovereignty and government-to-government relationships.

''There are so many friends and partners of NCAI that work hard to support tribes and protect our sovereignty,'' said NCAI President Joe Garcia. ''We honor those who have gone the extra mile to support the efforts of NCAI and tribes across the country, and thank them for their unwavering support.''

Other honorees included Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., the Congressional Leadership Award; Friends Committee on National Legislation Native American Advocacy Program, Public Sector Leadership Award; and Alan Parker, Native American Leadership Award.

April Hale and Adam McMullin of the NCAI contributed to this report.