On Monday, Native American business leaders were recognized by the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development for their contributions to Indian country at this year’s National Reservation Economic Summit in Las Vegas.
At the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, five leaders received special awards for their contributions: Victoria Vasques, owner and president of Tribal Tech, LLC; Stephen Mills, founder, president and CEO of AQIWO, Inc.; George Tiger, principal Chief of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma; Mabel Tsosie, president of Spottedhorse Infosystems; and Lance Gumbs, executive director of the Native American Financial Services Association.
Vasques, whose company is based in Alexandria, Va., was named Native Woman Business Owner of the Year. Her company Tribal Tech, LLC, provides technical assistance and consulting services to federal, state, tribal, and corporate clients, according to its website.
Mills, a member of the Chumash Tribe, received the Small Business Empowerment Award, which is given to an individual for his or her dedication to improving opportunity for American Indian owned businesses in his or her community.
Tiger was presented with the American Indian Leadership Award. He began his career in the 1970s working for the Seminole Nation, and has steadily advocated for economic improvement in Indian country.
Tsosie, Navajo Nation, received the Volunteer of the Year Award. As president of Spottedhorse Infosystems, LLC, Tsosie job is to facilitate procurement management and business development services with Federal and tribal relations. She was recognized for the significant amount of time, energy, and resources she has devoted to the advancement of the National Center.
Gumbs was honored with the Tim Wapato Public Advocate of the Year. Gumbs, a lifetime member and regional vice president of the National Congress of American Indians, has dedicated his career to serving tribal communities.
NCAIED President and CEO Gary Davis said that each awardee “exemplifies everything that the National Center stands for -- a firm devotion to enhancing economic development in Indian country.”
NCAIED also selected Gila River Telecommunications as the American Indian Business of the Year. According to a press release, the company provides telephone services to more than 80 percent of its community in southern Arizona. Previous to its inception in 1988, only 10 percent of the community had the proper telecommunications infrastructure.
“Successful Native American businesses like Gila River Telecommunications are critically important to improving the economy and creating good jobs in Indian country,” Davis said. “The National Center is truly honored to recognize them for their achievements in business.”