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Big Brothers Big Sisters Part of National Congress of American Indians 70th Convention

Big Brothers Big Sisters' National Board of Directors member Margo Gray and Director of Native American Engagement Carroll Swan participated in the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) 70thAnnual Convention in Tulsa, Oklahoma last week.  Gray presented on the first day of the conference.

According to the website, NCAI www.ncai.org was established in 1944 in response to the termination and assimilation policies the U.S. government forced upon tribal governments in contradiction of their treaty rights and status as sovereign nations. To this day, protecting these inherent and legal rights remains the primary focus of NCAI.

"Attending NCAI this year resulted in a big step forward in our outreach to Indian Country,” Swan said, speaking about Big Brothers Big Sisters’ participation in the conference. “It generated a strong show of support for us, as well as creating partnership opportunities.  It truly is an exciting time with real promise for our Native initiative."

Gray said the importance of introducing Big Brothers Big Sisters Native American Team, initiatives and commitment to Indian Country is a step in the right direction.

“Our presence amongst the tribal leadership was well received, and the ground work has been laid," she said.

The NCAI gathers Indian leadership from across the country to examine political and social initiatives.  Action items included the Affordable Care Act in Indian Country, reducing domestic violence among Native Americans, emergency management for tribal leaders and mobilizing to support and nurture Indian youth. This year's convention had approximately 2,000 in attendance. 

“Visible support from Big Brothers Big Sisters to the oldest and largest tribal organization in our country is meaningful,” said Lucille Echohawk, member of Big Brothers Big Sisters Native American Advisory Council.  “This is also the best yearly meeting ground for tribal policymakers and program staff, as well as those wishing to work with tribal communities."

Big Brothers Big Sisters was there in force to support board member Gray while she spoke on the opening day of the convention. Members in attendance included Charles Pierson, President and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters, Keith Rhodes, Senior Vice President of Major Gifts and Lowell Perry, Chief Diversity Officer.

“This was an impressive event that will be on our calendar for years to come,” Perry said. “It is important for us to be present at such gatherings to send the clear message that we are of the Native American community and not just delivering services in it.”

Also supporting the effort were members of the Tulsa Big Brothers Big Sisters agency, including Brian Carr, a recruiter in the area for the agency and Kristen Smithson.

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