Dance. Dream. Discover.
The 17th annual American Indian College Fund (the Fund) Flame of Hope Gala raised more than $650,000 to benefit needy American Indian students.
Dwight Carlston (Navajo), a second-year honor student at Navajo Technical College, addressed the crowd, crediting his family with putting him on his path to college and the American Indian College Fund with helping him to achieve his goals as he continues to work towards earning a bachelor’s degree. Dwight was presented with the first-ever Richard B. Williams-Seventh Generation Leadership Endowment scholarship, which was established to honor the Fund’s retired President and CEO.
The Fund, under the leadership of its new President and CEO Dr. Cheryl Crazy Bull, honored the late Stanley R. Crooks, former Tribal Chairman of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux (SMSC), for changing the lives of his people and Indian Country through his strong leadership. Dr. Crazy Bull said, “He saw all Native peoples as his relatives and supported them just as he did his own people. With his leadership, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community became one of the American Indian College Fund’s most valued and generous supporters.” Crooks’ wife Cheryl was in attendance to accept the honor.
Nationally renowned Native artist Bunky Echo-Hawk created a painting live at the event. The piece, a stunning portrait of an American Indian man in traditional dress, was awarded to the SMSC for pledging $50,000 to benefit the Richard B. Williams-Seventh Generation Leadership Endowment.
Pendleton Woolen Mills presented retired President Richard B. Williams with a commemorative blanket, named Tatanka Huhanska (Tall Bull), Mr. Williams’ Lakota name, in his honor. The blanket will be available for purchase in March, with a percentage of proceeds funding American Indian scholarships.
The event also featured performances by Native entertainers, including flutist R. Carlos Nakaí, Native Pride Arts dancers, Southern California Kahweeyah Bird Singers and Dancers, Pipestone Hand Drum Group, and Iron Boy drum group.
The key sponsor for the evening was USA Funds. Other sponsors included San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, Coca-Cola Foundation, Nissan North America, Comcast/NBC Universal, Lannan Foundation and local sponsors such as United Health Foundation, Travelers, US Bank, Grotto Foundation and the Northwest Area Foundation.