At our 50th Anniversary Gala at the 2019 Reservation Economic Summit, we honored the people, organizations, and businesses contributing to Indian Country and its economy. A full list of winners is below:

Presenting the award to Louie Gong and his team is National Center President and CEO Chris James.

Small Business Empowerment Award: This award is in recognition of leadership demonstrated in the business community and in acknowledgement of dedication to improving opportunity for American Indian owned businesses across our communities.

This year’s recipient is Eighth Generation and Louie Gong. Eighth Generation is a Native-owned and operated company based in Seattle, Washington. It was founded in 2008 when Louie Gong (Nooksack) started customizing shoes in his living room. Now the first Native-owned company to ever produce wool blankets – with a flagship retail store in Seattle’s iconic Pike Place Market – Eighth Generation is a proud participant in the global economy. Through the Inspired Natives Project, Eighth Generation creates opportunities for cultural artists who, like Louie a short 8 years ago, struggle to meet demand for their handmade cultural art.

Presenting the award to Deana Jackson and Carole Holyan is National Center Board Member Margo Gray.


Native Woman Business Owner of the Year Award: This award is in recognition of outstanding leadership, management, quality performance and commitment to excellence as a successful Native American woman business owner.

This year’s winner is Zion Enterprises, LLC and Managing Partners Deana Jackson and Carole Holyan. Zion Enterprises, LLC is a Native American and woman owned and operated agency providing hands-on contact with more than 30 years of combined Event Planning, PR and marketing experience. Launched in 2011, Zion Enterprises, LLC is a full-service event, marketing and public relations agency with a specialty in designing, planning and managing intimate to large-scale event productions including conferences, trade shows, galas, golf tournaments, festivals and other special events and promotional items. This also involves all aspects of strategic planning, coordination, on-site management, marketing and promotion of each event.

Accepting the award on behalf of Senator Sullivan is National Center Board Member Clyde Gooden and Gala emcee Alyssa London.



Congressional Achievement Award: This award is in recognition of outstanding leadership by a member of the United States Congress and in appreciation that member’s support of American Indian business and economic development endeavors of tribal communities, Alaska Native villages and American Indian and Alaska Native entrepreneurs.

This year’s awardee is Senator from Alaska, Dan Sullivan. Senator Dan Sullivan was elected in 2014 and he is currently serving in his first term in the Senate. In 2018, Senator Sullivan and his staff have been able to secure agreements with the SBA regarding the NDAA in support of Native-owned small business enterprises. Senator Sullivan’s work to advance Native contracting is a testament to his industrious efforts to strengthen the national defense. Supporting a strong national defense is one of the key attributes of Native contracting, and Senator Sullivan has been a consistent supporter of Native American contracting.

Presenting the award to Poarch Band Tribal Chair and CEO Stephanie Bryan is National Center Board Member Lillian Sparks Robinson.



American Indian Leadership Award:
This award is in recognition of outstanding leadership in support of American Indian business and economic development endeavors in tribal communities.

This year’s award goes to the Poarch Band of Creek Indians in Alabama. The Poarch Band of Creek Indians is the only federally recognized Indian Tribe in the state of Alabama, operating as a sovereign nation with its own system of government and bylaws. The Tribe operates a variety of economic enterprises, which employ hundreds of area residents. Poarch Creek Indian Gaming manages three gaming facilities in Alabama, including: Wind Creek Casino & Hotel, Atmore; Wind Creek Casino & Hotel, Wetumpka; and, Wind Creek Casino & Hotel, Montgomery. The Poarch Band of Creek Indians is an active partner in the state of Alabama, contributing to economic, educational, social and cultural projects benefiting both tribal members and residents of these local communities and neighboring towns. Most recently, the Poarch Band made national news when the tribe donated nearly $200,000 to cover the costs of the funerals for the victims of the devastating tornadoes that struck East Alabama earlier this month. This incredible gesture was just the latest in the tribe’s dedication and leadership.

Presenting the award to Alvin Windy Boy, Sr. is National Center Board Member Ron Solimon.



American Indian Business of the Year: This award is in acknowledgement of the success of an American Indian or tribal Nation owned business and its demonstration of excellent corporate citizenship.

This year’s recipient is iResponse, LLC. iResponse, LLC provides Tribes with the ability to conduct effective and efficient NEPA Reviews and Section 106 Consultations as a part of the National Historic Preservation Act. CEO Alvin Windy Boy Sr. is a lifelong resident of the Rocky Boy Indian Reservation, where iResponse is based, and a proud member of the Cree Nation. He is a former 12-year Tribal Historic Preservation Officer (THPO), Council Member, and Council Chairman. During his years as the Tribe’s THPO, Alvin grew the program from a one-man federally funded position to a Tribal department that employs over 20 full-time and seasonal employees. Alvin uses this experience in historic preservation in his work as CEO of iResponse, LLC. This software has been successfully utilized in hundreds of consultations between Government, Industry, and Tribes.

The award accepted on behalf of Rodney Butler.


Tribal Gaming Visionary Award: This award is in recognition of leadership demonstrated in the tribal gaming sector and efforts to advance opportunity for American Indian owned businesses.

This year’s winner is Rodney Butler, from the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation. Rising from chairman of the tribe’s Business Advisory Board, Rodney Butler was elected to the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council in 2003. After winning a third term in 2009, he was elected chairman. Rodney has helped grow Foxwoods beyond gaming, including the opening of Tanger Outlets, Foxwoods Thrill Tower, a zipline and an indoor karting track. Butler also entered a partnership with Mohegan Tribal Council Chairman Kevin Brown on plans for a third casino in Connecticut, which has brought them together in front of the state legislature many times.

Presenting the award to Square’s head of Government Relations and Policy Erin Archuleta is National Center Board Member Burton Warrington.

Corporate Advocate of the Year Award: This award recognizes the leadership team of a Corporation for demonstrating a sincere commitment to growing business opportunities for American Indian and Alaska Native owned companies to improve the economy of Indian Country for both the current and future generations.

This year’s winner is Square, Inc. In 2018, Square, Inc. partnered with the National Center in various initiatives. Mostly notably, Square produced the Short Film “Lakota in America” about Julie Garreau and the Cheyenne River Youth Project (CRYP). Square helps capture their story in a beautiful and compelling way. In addition to “Lakota in America,” Square partnered with the National Center in a 2017 event with founder Jack Dorsey, who also founded Twitter.

Presenting the award to Julie Garreau is National Center Board Member Joan Temeche.


Tim Wapato Public Advocate of the Year Award: This award is in recognition of outstanding leadership in support of American Indian business and economic development.

This year’s winner is Julie Garreau of the Cheyenne River Youth Project. Julie Garreau and the Cheyenne River Youth Project are working with a determined generation of young Lakota to create a stronger economic and cultural future—and they’re using their Lakota heritage to get there. Julie Garreau founded the Cheyenne River Youth Project (CRYP) in 1988 in a derelict bar on Main Street in Eagle Butte, South Dakota. The bar wasn’t an accidental choice; Garreau acknowledges that in many ways CRYP is simply trying to offer an alternative to young people who would otherwise be tempted to use drugs and alcohol. For 30 years, Julie and the Cheyenne River Youth Project have been providing those strong alternatives to tribal youth.

Accepting the award on behalf of Margaret are National Center Board Member Helvi Sandvik and Gala emcee Alyssa London.


Volunteer of the Year Award:
This award is in recognition of the significant amount of time, energy and resources devoted by an individual to the work of the National Center and its mission of advancing the American Indian and Tribal business sectors.

The 2019 Volunteer of the Year Award goes to Margaret Agnguarta Roberts. Margaret Agnguarta Roberts has devoted her life fighting for tribes and preserving the language and traditions of the Alutiiq people from Kodiak Island. More than 30 years ago, she founded the Kodiak Alutiiq Dancers, among other accomplishments. She still dances with the group today. Her Alutiiq name, Agnguarta means, “One Who Dances.”

Accepting the award on behalf of Patrick Dallas are National Center Board Member John Echohawk and Gala emcee Alyssa London.


First American Entrepreneurship Award:
This award is in recognition business owner who has demonstrated to the American Indian and/or Alaska Native community excellent entrepreneurial spirit through the establishment of a successful business.

This year’s First American Entrepreneurship Award goes to Patrick Dallas of Red Mountain Engineering. Red Mountain Engineering, LLC is a Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community member-owned business that was recently listed among the best businesses in Arizona. Led by Patrick Dallas, Red Mountain Engineering, LLC, was ranked No. 7 in the “Engineering: Civil, 13 Engineers or Fewer” category of the 2017 Ranking Arizona, an annual publication from AZ Big Media.

Accepting the award on behalf of W. Ron Allen are National Center Board Member John Echohawk and Gala emcee Alyssa London.


Jay Silverheels Achievement Award: The Jay Silverheels Achievement Award is presented each year to an American Indian man or woman who has achieved personal and professional success while making significant contributions to the community. The awardee will have demonstrated a lifetime advocacy of American Indian issues while adhering to American Indian values

This year’s award goes to W. Ron Allen, Tribal Council Chairman of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe. Ron was appointed to the Tribal Council in 1975. He has served as the Chair since 1977 and as Chief Executive Officer since 1982. He is a member of the JKT Art Board, Hunting/Fishing Committee (Ad Hoc member), Tribal Gaming Commission, and U.S. Canada/Pacific Salmon Commission. He served four years as President of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and two years as NCAI First Vice President. He is currently NCAI Treasurer and President of the Washington Indian Gaming Association.

Presenting the award to Mike Lettig, KeyBank’s Executive Vice President for National Executive Agribusiness & Native American Financial Services, is National Center Board Chairman Derrick Watchman.

First American Corporate Leadership Award: The First American Corporate Leadership Award is presented to a U.S. corporation whose leadership has demonstrated an exemplary commitment to economic progress for Indian Country. The awardee will have demonstrated consistent and strong support and commitment of the American Indian community.

This year’s award winner is KeyBank. For more than 60 years, KeyBank has delivered customized solutions to tribes from coast to coast. As one of the first financial institutions to create dedicated teams serving this market, it has developed a deep understanding of the complexities each Nation faces. Last year, the National Center was awarded a competitive grant from KeyBank Foundation to support Native American businesses nationwide. KeyBank Foundation is the non-profit charitable organization funded by KeyCorp. The 2-year, $300,000 donation has been used to develop our Native Edge Institutes – the one-day training events that are being held across the country, including one here at RES. The National Center has gained an additional 200 clients as a result of this support.