Native American Junior Golf Association being formed

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MAYETTA, Kan. - Board members of the new Native American Junior Golf Association are completing paperwork for a charter from the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation of Kansas. Already there are plans for a youth golf camp this summer.

"This will be the first Native American Junior Golf Association to be chartered by a tribe in the country," nation employee Jimmy Cisneros said. "We want to make this thing first class so we are hopefully going to be recognized by the National Congress of American Indians at their next meeting as the first National Native American Junior Golf Association."

When all of the paperwork is submitted to the PGA (Professional Golfers' Association), Cisneros said the new association is "hoping that Native American communities and tribes will begin to charter chapters underneath this national umbrella."

Cisneros, executive director of the proposed association, said he originally planned to charter the organization with the state of Kansas, but changed his mind. "The attorneys here gave a presentation to our board to have the organization file under the tribe's government. Now we are going to fine tune our articles of incorporation and our bylaws and our filings with the Internal Revenue Service, to make sure that our codes are correct, and file through the tribe. It is ready to go."

The group plans to meet with the tribal council and other Native American groups to secure financial backing. It plans to solicit other funds from non-Native sources, but Cisneros said that a final check with the IRS would determine whether or not the group could actually do that.

"Tribes don't have that issue. So we will probably be looking more at Native American entities for financial support."

Although the NAJGA will be chartered under the tribe, an executive board will operate the association on a day-to-day basis, Cisneros said.

Though board members have been busy with the mountain of paperwork required, they haven't lost sight of the reason for organizing - the junior golfers. The first golf camp for the juniors is planned for this summer.

"We will be pulling kids from Mayetta, Hoyt, Holton, Horton and all the other small towns, and probably since we have a large contingency of kids living in Topeka, we will be trying to pull them from there," Cisneros said. "Our estimated number is about 80 kids and I think that is a very realistic number. Also, one of the nice things about this is ... it has a Tiger Woods-type of an essence. Even though the color barrier was broken before Tiger Woods, he has really brought golf into the realm of there are no color barriers.

Cisneros said non-Native youngsters will be welcome, too. Not only does his fledgling organization want the support of the nearby communities, it wants to provide other children an activity to occupy their time.

The association plans to work with PGA members and instructors from nearby university golf programs to teach the juniors at the camps. Cisneros said that he receives more than 20 inquiries a week about the organization and what its expectations will be for the young golfers.

Cisneros said he plans to hold a community meeting to explain the program to local residents. "I will be giving my speech on the five 'D's. First you have to have the desire, then you have to have determination, you have to have dedication and you have to have discipline and the final D is getting it done."

There will be a minimal charge in the beginning, primarily to make sure parents and the golfers take their participation seriously, Cisneros said.

"Their parents will say, 'Hey, I paid twenty five bucks that I could have used elsewhere ...' It is mainly to get their commitment to the program and from their kids."

Anyone interested can contact Jimmy Cisneros at (785) 364-5480 or write to 218 Kansas, Holton, KS 66436.

Later the association will have its own post office box, phone number and Web page, he said.