Held at the Paiute Golf Resort, the tournament drew nearly 40 four-person teams who brought their best games to fund scholarships for deserving Native American business students.
Following a hearty breakfast, NCAIED President and CEO Gary Davis made brief introductions of board members as well as Frank Oz of Star Wars fame, who made this year special by auctioning priceless movie memorabilia to support the cause.
Board member Margo Gray reminded attendees of the day’s goal: “There is no business without education,” she said. Benny Tso, Chairman of the Las Vegas Paiute Tribe, blessed the 9 a.m. tee time with a welcoming prayer, and then 40-plus golf carts hit the scenic Sun Mountain Course for a day of sport, networking and camaraderie.
“It’s like a big family reunion for Native Americans,” said Ron Solimon, who serves on the Board of Directors for the Albuquerque, NM-based United Indian Development Association as well as the NCAIED. “It’s a chance to catch up on where our businesses have been in the past year. It’s a nice gathering time.”
Beautiful weather greeted the participants, as chilly morning temperatures gave way to a 70-degree day.
“It’s nice and warm,” noted a smiling Tim Sirewop, manager of water services for the Northern Ute tribe in Utah, who played with his wife, Sonja Willie, and several associates. “Back home it’s 40 degrees.”
The winning team – which included Nate Cox, Gregg Robinson, Titu Asghar and Jim Brown — completed the course with an impressive score of 58, and joked that they “had to buy 20 mulligans” to achieve it.
As for the overarching goal of funding scholarships for Native business students, the final figures aren’t in yet. But early indications are the day was a resounding success.
With 156 golfers, “we’ve sold the tournament out for the first year in several years,” Davis pointed out to a warm applause at the post-game banquet. And that was before the auction of the Star Wars memorabilia that Frank Oz autographed for winners in an unprecedented show of support for the NCAIED.
Participants appeared slightly sunburned and a bit tired – but happy – as they rode busses back to the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
“I loved it,” reflected Josh Wells, Project Manager at Stillaguamish Tribal Enterprise Corporation out of Arlington, Washington. “I’d play out here again. You’ve got a lot of strategy involved. It’s really good.
The golfers had just a couple hours to freshen up before an exquisite opening reception featuring gourmet regional hors d’oeuvres and the music of Gabriel Ayala, Midnite Express and Northern Bear. Formally-dressed representatives from across Indian Country also graced Mandalay Bay’s Islander Ballroom; attendees were treated to views of the traditional dress from tribes including Muskogee, Navajo, Eastern Shoshone, Lakota, Sioux, Choctaw-Chickasaw, Ojibwa-Menominee, Otoe-Missourian and the Three Affiliated Tribes (Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara).
“You’re going to see our culture everywhere you look at RES,” Davis promised.
National RES 2013 continues today with a full program of keynote presentations, the first day of the Business Tradeshow, Procurement Expo and American Indian Art Market, as well as the Tribal Business Leaders’ Forum in the afternoon.