Category: News

Young CEO Receives Leadership Award

Nikishna Polequaptewa, 35, has recently been awarded the Young Executive Leadership Award by the Hastings Review, awarded to the nation’s most promising emerging entrepreneurs and business people under the age of 45 years old.

The award was presented at the Dallas Marriott City Center Hotel in Dallas, Texas on Friday, January 12, 2018. The awards dinner and ceremony began at 7:30pm. “I am very grateful to have my work recognized by the Hastings Review. Thank you to the committee for selecting me for this year’s Young Executive Leadership Award, Polequaptewa stated. “I am working on a book detailing my life and the struggles I overcame to get where I am today. I hope that it will serve as a guide for other young people who come from similar circumstances and dream of something more.”

Earl Chetterling, President of the Board of Directors for the Hastings Review and Chair of the award’s Selection Committee stated, “we were honored to review and select Nikishna Polequaptewa’s work in the public and private sector. The obstacles he has had to overcome were tremendous and it is nothing short of a miracle that he has had this type of success so far. We wish him well in expanding his work and know that he is on a great trajectory.

Hopi Tribe Elects “People’s Chairman”

Kykotsmovi, AZ – On Dec. 1, the Hopi Tribe inaugurated the “People’s Chairman,” Timothy L. Nuvangyaoma, of Mishongnovi Village.

Nuvangyaoma has a degree in management and previously worked in the finance industry. Most importantly, he ran on a platform in which he acknowledges that there are many knowledgeable people in the Hopi community that need to be involved in the solutions for the issues that are brought forward. He has stated that he wants the Hopi community to be part of these solutions. Hopi language and culture are very important to him, leading him to volunteer for KUYI, the Hopi reservation-based radio station, which strives to reaffirm respect for tradition by “preserving language and culture in a contemporary context” with a particular emphasis on Hopi perspectives and interests.

Nuvangyaoma’s Senior Staff will include Bruce Talawyma, Malinda Andrews, and Nikishna Polequaptewa. Bruce Talawyma, a Marine Corps Veteran, retired as Chief Administrative Officer for Indian Health Service at the Hopi Health Care Center after 43 years of service. Talawyma served in Vietnam’s 1st Marine Division, 7th Communications Battalion. He began his career at Hopi Day School in Kykotsmovi, Arizona, attended Phoenix Indian School, and graduated from Central High School. He earned an Associate Degree in Business from the Haskell Institute and secured his first job in the Housing and Urban Development Administration in Los Angeles, California. He also worked for the Department of Labor as a Human Resource Specialist for the BIA.

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Hopi school officials invite Nikishna Polequaptewa to empower youth

POLACCA, Ariz. – Nikishna Polequaptewa, keynote speaker for the Youth Convening session at Hopi Jr./Sr. High School, told students about growing up mostly without parents and living in poverty before finding success through education.

Dozens of students participated in the day long session Aug. 26 dealing with mentoring, service learning and cultural well-being. The Hopi Foundation, school officials and community members came together to identify ways to help students.

Born in Torrence, California, Polequaptewa recounted that his mom left when he was 1-year-old and his father went to prison when he was 3 years old. He was placed in the foster care system where he would stay in 15 foster homes in the next six months. He became used to packing his bag in one hour.

Nikishna Polequaptewa Navajo Hopi Observer Article

In these foster homes, Polequaptewa suffered neglect, abuse and was often told that he was “eating too much” because the foster parents were more interested in the paycheck then in him.

Polequaptewa, a Hopi Corps VISTA volunteer, finally stayed in one home for about two and a half years where he found “a little bit of love and that somebody cared for me.”

Polequaptewa lived with his dad after he was released from prison, even though they were poor. Sometimes they would have bread with ketchup on it for dinner. He would get broken G.I. Joe toys for Christmas. His brother took custody of him after he turned 21, but they lived in an area of Los Angeles where prostitutes and drug dealers were common.

He eventually moved out to Hopi to live with his auntie and went to Prescott for counseling – starting his way to success through education. He graduated from Sherman Indian High School before attending the University of California at Irvine and Central Washington University. Now he is majoring in earth science and environmental sustainability at Northern Arizona University.

“Sometimes the resources don’t exist and you have to create them,” he said. “If you put forth the effort then anything is possible. You can’t be crying around. You need to stand up.”

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Advancing Communities Hosts Tribal Leadership Forum

Advancing Communities hosted a Tribal Leadership Symposium at the Moenkopi Legacy Inn on Apr. 2.

Nikishna Polequaptewa, Founding President and CEO of Advancing Communities Foundation said the Symposium is geared toward department Directors, organizational leaders, business owners, employees who want to branch out and bring their skills into their offices and anyone who is looking to gain new skills. “There are a lot of non-profit and small businesses out here that I have done assessments on through the Hopi Corp. program and noticed some needs and gaps that need to be filled,” said Polequaptewa.

The symposium focused on: • Organizational money management: Estimates, Invoicing, Payment processing, Bookkeeping and Tax Deductions. • Options for proper Information Technology (IT) and Data Management: Managing organizational computers, devices, data & technology systems. • Business promotion & management: Branding, marketing materials & ROI-focused distributions strategies. • Hopi Chamber of Commerce: What can the Chamber do for you, your organization and the community? • Organizational development: How to lay the foundation for a growing business or organization.

Polequaptewa said he lives by this philosophy, “Practice what you preach”, and has always wanted to come back to the Hopi reservation and share what he has learned while away at school. The symposium was planned with a budget of under $5K using his (individual or program’s) own funds; Polequaptewa said it is an investment into his community. “It takes talent and skills to be able to host a big event with such a small budget,” said Polequaptewa. “And we will include information on our event management skills.” This is the first public event the Foundation has hosted on Hopi and Polequaptewa said he feels good about it. There were several individuals, including local government employees, non-profit Directors and local business owners in attendance at the symposium who are committed to growing the economy.

Polequaptewa said the biggest success of the symposium was seeing people engaged with one another and letting their voices be heard versus being talked at. He said the next step is for the community to share what they have learned and double the size for the next event.

This was the first of four symposiums to be hosted by the Foundation. The next symposium will be on the topic of Public Health which will be held in September; most likely at the same location because Polequaptewa wants to keep the business local and feels it will benefit the people. The other symposiums will be on Education Attainment and Environmental Stewardship.

An open discussion was held on establishing a Chamber of Commerce to assist local businesses. The Chamber of Commerce will be a partnership with businesses and organizations and will be established as a 501C3. Membership requirements will be up the individual, Hopi owned business and non-profit. Explain: Does this mean a person/organization can make up their own requirements as they apply for membership? “As a small business owner, there are so many things to figure out,” said Polequaptewa. “It’s like building a house, so we will talk about how to market and incorporate your business, but more importantly with regard to the Chambers, how do we get bigger contracts?”.

Polequaptewa, is Badger Clan is from Kykotsmovi village and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Analysis and Design and Information Computer Science from the University of California Irvine as well as a Masters in Resource Management focusing on Natural and Cultural Resources Management from Central Washington University. He is currently enrolled in a Ph.D. program at the Northern Arizona University in Earth Science and Environmental Sustainability with a focus on Environmental Engineering.

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Hopi Youth And Adults Clean Up Hopi Village Springs And Trails

This “Hopi Springs Activity” is a continuation of the 2014 Hopi Tribe/Kaibab National Forest Springs Restoration Project partnership between the Hopi Tribe Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Program (WIOA), Hopi Cultural Preservation Office and The Kaibab National Forest.

Summer Village Spring and Trail Repair Project
Summer Village Spring and Trail Repair Project
Repairing Village Trails
Repairing Village Trails

On July 27 and 28, Hopi Youth, along with adult professionals and volunteers attempted to fulfill an ambitious agenda of working alongside one another and spending time to clean up around some of our Hopi Village Springs. Youth, ages 6-24 from the Hopi Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Program, Hopi Tutsqua Permaculture Program and village youth volunteers, all participated! In addition to the work aspect, the participants were provided, throughout, with discussion about the importance of our springs, water and our environment, making healthy choices and positive contributions to our society, the importance of Higher Education and Career Pathways and many other noteworthy topics!

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Young Hopi businessman receives national honors

Polequaptewa strives to help Native American students

IRVINE, Calif. – Nikishna Polequaptewa has recently received two new honors to add to a growing list. At only 27, that list is impressive, but it hasn’t gone to his head. He continues to work towards his life-long goal of helping other Native American students rise up to reach their own dreams.

Most recently, Polequaptewa was gifted with an American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) Sequoyah Fellowship, and participated in the blessing ceremony at the National Conference in Portland, Ore. Polequaptewa was also named as one of 40 young existing and emerging Native American leaders to receive the National Center for American Indian Development’s (NCAID) “Native American 40 Under 40” awards.

Nikishna receives AISES Sequoyah Fellowship Medal
Nikishna receives AISES Sequoyah Fellowship Medal

An AISES Sequoyah Fellow is a lifetime member of AISES,” said April Armijo, AISES Information Services Coordinator. “Many individuals purchase a Sequoyah Fellowship for themselves and then go onto gifting one to another.”

Nikishna’s was sponsored by Todd Ambo, an engineer at 3M from the Juaneno Band of Mission Indians, Acjachemen Nation, who was also gifted last year in Anaheim. An AISES Sequoyah Fellow is regarded as a representative members of AISES who supports the organization to overcome obstacles and achieve immeasurable growth and success.

Armijo shared Ambo’s reasoning.

“He’s a great role model and has overcome many trials and tribulations,” Ambo said. “[Nikishna] is a young and very inspiring person and I believe that he will accomplish many great things for native people in the future.”

Indeed, Polequaptewa has faced adversity. His mother abandoned him as a baby, and was forced into a series of foster homes when his father went to prison. But this hasn’t stopped this industrious young Hopi from creating his own future.

“I was really surprised to learn that I’d been sponsored for the Sequoyah Fellowship,” Polequaptewa said. “And as for the 40

Under 40 award – I was the only individual in Education to win this award. It was pretty neat to receive it – NCAID is the oldest nationwide organization of its kind, and this is the first time they’ve offered [it.]”

A string of achievements prove this 27-year-old member of the Badger and Spider Clans is moving forward at a rapid pace. He credits a strong identification with his Hopi people as well as his desire to help other young people for driving him forward.

Polequaptewa currently serves as the Director of the American Indian Resource Program (AIRP) of the University of California, Irvine, where he is able to live his dream of helping Native American students attain higher education.

“Our main project is an American Indian Summer Institute in Computer Sciences, which is an intensive summer residential program, primarily funded by the National Science Foundation,” he said.

“We take eighth grade students going into ninth grade and 11th grade students going into 12th grade from all over the country. We pay for everything – transportation, housing, food, books, and entertainment.”

Young people interested in attending the program should go to; applications should be submitted in January.

“This project is unique in that we don’t base attendance on a student’s grade point average,” Polequaptewa said. “We base our selection totally on their essay on why … they want to come to our camp.”

Further, students who don’t have a census number are not rejected; rather, they are accepted on a self-identification basis.

“Ninety-five percent of our students go on to attend great universities-even if their grade point average was only 1.9 when they came to us,” Polequaptewa said. “We serve students from kindergarten through PhD candidates. We help students be eligible for the right tests and to get into the college of their choice. Once there, we work on retention.”

Polequaptewa and his colleagues are there to support students through the challenges and frustrations that face young American Indian students-including overcoming boarding school experiences that often offer little in the way of preparing students to be self-sufficient young adults who will attend college off-reservation.

“We didn’t start this program without the help of others,” Polequaptewa said. “A key organization is the Center for Educational Partnerships, which provides us with free office space and supplies.

Polequaptewa intends to spend the second half of his life at Hopi.

“Ever since I was little, I wanted to serve as the Hopi Tribal Chairman,” Polequaptewa continued. “I want to serve in the best capacity possible, with valuable resources to bring to the Tribe.”

Polequaptewa said that his plan is to serve his people-and by becoming financially stable should he achieve his goal of Chairman.

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University Program for Young Natives Brings Summer Science to the Rez

Thirty-four teens from across the country are spending the week on the La Jolla Band of Luiseño Indian reservation learning how to apply environmental science practices in their own communities.

The students – who are in eighth through 11th grades – were accepted into the two-week residential American Indian Summer Institute in Earth System Science program. The institute – hosted by the University of California Irvine’s American Indian Resource Program – is the newest in more than 20 years of summer educational outreach programs out of UC Irvine geared towards Native Americans who are interested pursuing higher education.

Yolanda Leon, coordinator at the UC Irvine’s American Indian Resource Program, said this year’s youth represent five states as well as tribes that include Acjachemen, Cahuilla, Chumash, Diné (Navajo), Gila River, Hopi, Lakota, Ojibwe, and Zuni Pueblo. The students were selected out of more than 100 applicants.

“We were looking for students that were interested in earth science, had an interest in their (tribal) community, and have done well in academics,” Leon said.

Nikishna Polequaptewa, director of UC Irvine’s American Indian Resource Program, said admission, housing, food, entertainment, and educational materials are provided to the participants free of cost.

During the institute the students are receiving presentations from members of Northern Arizona University’s Environmental Educational Outreach Program as well as the La Jolla tribal council.

The students will remain on the La Jolla reservation until Saturday, July 21. The remaining week of the program will take place on the UC Irvine campus.

By Terria Smith

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Hopi Candidate Nikishna Polequaptewa for NIEA Board

The following post was originally published on the National Indian Education Association (NIEA) website: NIEA board member elections will take place at the this year’s NIEA Convention & Tradeshow in Albuquerque, NM, October 26-30.

NIEA members can also vote by absentee ballot. Click here (scroll to the bottom of the page) for more information.

I have known Nikishna Polequaptewa for the past 4 years, and I have written about his accomplishments in a previous post. I have a lot of respect and appreciation for him and the work that he is doing with and for Native people. NIEA and its members would be very fortunate to have Polequaptewa on the Board of Directors.

By Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert

Board Nominee Nikishna Polequaptewa Hopi

“I envision a meaningful shift toward a higher percentage of college educated tribal administrators, dignitaries, business owners, operators, managers, and executives that will have the ability to make informed decisions that will promote Indian self-sufficiency and strengthen tribal sovereignty.”

NIKISHNA POLEQUAPTEWA is a devoted Hopi tribal member and Native education advocate. Through his innovative outreach and retention programs, he has set a standard of excellence for programs involving access, outreach, and retention to higher education for Native students across the country.

Nikishna’s commitment to education and academic achievement was evident long before he attended college. He was a participant in the California Baptist University’s University Bridge Program (1998- 1999), and then in the University of California‘s, Riverside’s High School-University Program the following year (1999- 2000). In 2000, he graduated as class president from Sherman Indian High School and continued his educational pursuits at the University of California, Irvine (UCI). While there, he continued to actively contribute to outreach and retention programs for American Indian students holding roles such as the American Indian Student Association President and Director of American Indian Summer Institute in Computer Science, a UCI American Indian academic resource program. He also reinstated and coordinated the UCI Pow Wow. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Analysis and Design with a minor in Information and Computer Science in 2005 from the University of California, Irvine.

Nikishna obtained his Master’s Degree from Central Washington University (CWU) with a Master’s of Science in the Resource Management Program in 2007. While at CWU, he served as a research assistant (2005- 2007) and as a Program Manager for the La Jolla Band of Luiseno Indians (2007). That same year, he became founding Director of the American Indian Resource Program at the University of California, Irvine (2007).

Nikishna has earned several honors including: Special Congressional Recognition (through U.S. House of Representative Ken Calvert and U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer), the Presidential Recognition Award (through former President Bill Clinton), the Native American 40 Under 40 Award (2009); and has been successful in securing multiple grants for the American Indian Resource Program and other projects.

Nikishna holds numerous community and leadership positions in organizations such as the UCI Campuswide Climate Council, the American Indian Children’s Council, AISES Chapter (President), the University of California, American Indian Counselors and Recruiters Association (Chair), Nakwatsvewat Institute (Board Chairman), Chancellor’s Advisor Committee (Diversity Chair), and the American Indian Scholarship Fund (Vice Chair). He also holds national memberships in the American Indian Science & Engineering Society (Lifetime Sequoyah Fellow), Society for Advancement for Chicanos and Native Americans in Science, and the National Indian Education Association and holds state memberships in the California Alliance for Minority participation, Inter-tribal Colligate Alliance, the American Indian Chamber of Commerce, and the California Indian Education Association.


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Argentinian Doctor to Receive Hopi Award

Dr. Diana Kordon of Argentina will receive the 7th Barbara Chester Award for her clinical work healing survivors of torture. For four decades, Kordon has provided psychological services to the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo and others affected by atrocities committed by the military dictatorship in her country. She is currently the coordinator of the Argentine Team of Psychological Work and Research. Presentation of the Award will occur on October 8, 2016 on the Hopi Indian Reservation in Arizona.

The Barbara Chester Award is the world’s first anti-torture award and is a project of the Hopi Foundation. It includes a $10,000 cash prize and a Hopi handcrafted silver eagle feather sculpture. These will be formally presented at the Saturday, October 8th event on the Hopi Reservation in northeastern Arizona. Previous recipients are Shari Eppel of Zimbabwe (2000), Juan Almendares of Honduras (2001), Allen Keller of New York (2003), Alp Ayan of Turkey (2006), Mary Fabri of Chicago (2009) and Dr. Naasson Munyandamutsa of Rwanda (2013).

During the “Dirty War” period from 1976 to 1983, Argentina’s military dictatorship killed between 10,000 and 30,000 citizens. “The situation was terrible,” Kordon recalled. “Professionals were disappearing. We had to move regularly. I was close to being arrested at one time.”

In her quest for information about her missing colleagues, Kordon soon met The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, a group of women who had brought international attention to the plight of the Desaparecidos (citizens arrested and never seen again) through highly publicized weekly vigils.

“When these mothers learned about my profession they asked if I could offer psychological assistance because many of the members were experiencing depression,” Kordon recalls. With them, she created and coordinated the Equipo de Atención Psicológica a Madres de Plaza de Mayo (Team of Psychological Assistance to Mothers of Plaza de Mayo).

Dr. Nora Sveaass says Kordon was “among the first to identify the relationship between the violations perpetrated by the dictatorship and the traumatic effects that these violations had…not only on the affected individuals but on society at large. The establishment of EATIP (Equipo Argentino de Trabajo e Investigación Psicosocial) in 1990 represented a further strengthening and systematization of this important, pioneering work.”

The Barbara Chester Award is given as a tribute to honor the life and work of the late Dr. Barbara Chester, a pioneering clinician who directed the first treatment program for torture survivors in the United States. Later she treated indigenous refugees from Central and South America, as well as survivors from more than 50 countries. In particular, her work stressed the role of culture in determining both how an individual experienced the trauma of torture as well as the best approach for recovery.

How the world’s first anti-torture award came to be sponsored in a small and remote non-gaming Native American reservation is a story in itself. About 18,000 Hopi people live in northeastern Arizona, the oldest continuously inhabited location in North America. Given the remoteness of Hopi, their culture has survived largely intact in spite of focused efforts at forced assimilation. Based on her pioneering work establishing the Center for the Victims of Torture in Minneapolis, Dr. Chester was contracted by the Hopi Tribe and later moved to Arizona to work for the Hopi Foundation. After her death and to honor her work, The Hopi Foundation established and promotes The Barbara Chester Award.

Cities are seen as attracting diverse people who learn from each other and develop sophisticated and tolerant values. To an outsider, Hopi is merely a collection of 11 villages in a barren landscape with a culture substantially at variance with “modern” America. The reservation seems an unlikely source of the first international prize given to clinicians who work with torture survivors, yet it is from this land, this culture and these people that a sophisticated network of tolerance and support has reached around the world. The Hopi help humanity heal from the very worst that humans can do to each other.

Nikishna Polequaptewa, graduate of the Hopi Foundation’s Leadership Program states, “In Hopi, by integrating all aspects of life into balance with ourselves, the environment and our spiritual beliefs, the wellbeing of individuals, the local community, and the world as a whole is served.”

National Indian Education Association Annual Trade Show and Convention

This year’s National Indian Education Association (NIEA) Convention and Tradeshow will feature eight new strands of focus including Community and Family Engagement, Early Childhood, Health and Wellness (K-12), Higher Education, K-12 Education, Native Charter and Tribal School, Promising Practices and Urban Education.

In a video posted on the convention website NIEA President Mary Jane Oatman Wak Wak said the new strands were developed based on member responses from last year’s event and are intended to “meet your needs around the educational development in your community.”

Annual convention events include a culture night, language revitalization forum, a youth day, a college symposium, a tribal leader’s summit, an awards gala and a social powwow. For a full list of events, visit the convention website.

NIEA Board of Directors elections will also be held during the convention. Nominees include:

Pamela Agoyo, Ohkay Owingeh, Cochiti, and Kewa Pueblos; David Beaulieu, Chippewa; Jimmie C. Begay, Navajo; Timothy Begaye, Navajo; Cheyanne A. Burnette, Apache; Robert B. Cook, Lakota; Charlotte Davidson, Diné/Mandan/Hidatsa/Arikara; Andrew Conseen Duff, Eastern Band of Cherokee; Carol Juneau, Mandan/Hidatsa; Marian Holstein, Winnebago; Nikishna Polequaptewa, Hopi; Daisy Thompson, Navajo; Rick Waters, Kiowa/Cherokee.

For more information on the nominees, visit the NIEA Board of Directors election website.

By ICTMN Staff

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