Stars turn out for annual FAITA awards

It was ten years ago in the back of a Los Angeles diner, Bob's Big Boy, that the First Americans in the Arts (FAITA) founding members, Bob Hicks and Dawn Jackson, conceived of the idea of hosting an award show. Thus FAITA was born and the annual event has since gone on to become a high profile venue where the achievements of native entertainers are recognized and honored. This year's star-studded gala dinner was held on Feb. 2 in the heart of Beverly Hills at the Century Plaza Hotel.

Molly Culver, former model playing a bodyguard in the TV show V.I.P., won for Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a TV Series. Irene Bedard was honored for a guest performance in the TV series The Agency. Veteran actor Saginaw Grant and up and coming star Eric Schweig, featured in Chris Eyre's new film Skins turned up to support their comrades in the arts. Shannon Curfman, 16-year-old rock and blues singer, signed autgoraphs for yong fans.

Besides presenting awards to screen actors, FAITA also recognizes other performers in the field of dance and theatre. This year, veteran stuntman/actor Henry Kingi was also honored with an award for Lifetime Achievement in Stunts, as was singer Rita Coolidge for her continuing contribution to the world of music. The Autry Museum of Western Heritage received a humanitarian award for its commitment in educating and preserving the culture of the American West. FAITA, a non-profit organization, also provides scholarship grants to those aspiring filmmakers studying their craft. This year's recipients were Nanobah Becker (Navajo), Melody Grant (Muscogee Creek), Bennie Klain (Navajo) and Gerald Vandever (Navajo).