Americans for Indian Opportunity (AIO), the Albuquerque, New Mexico-headquartered nonprofit governed by a board of international Indigenous leaders, has honored the Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA Family Center) with its Taos Blue Lake Spirit of Indigeneity Award for the fifth time, reported Oregon Live. The award, created in 2005, honors Indigenous communities who have made positive political, economic and social change by relying on their traditional cultural values, states the AIO website.
The name of the award was inspired by the spirit of the people of the Pueblo of Taos. The award was first bestowed to the tribe to honor the historic return of their sacred Blue Lake after a 64-year struggle, which represented “a powerful and positive symbol of Indigenous self-determination” to Indigenous communities across the globe, according to the AIO.
The AIO Ambassadors program, a national Native American leadership development and community building initiative, has decided to visit Portland for their capstone meeting to learn from a thriving urban Native community, according to a release.
At present, the Ambassador network totals close to 187 Native American leaders, including 170 Ambassador alumni and 17 current ambassadors, states the AIO’s Ambassadors Alliance web page. The ambassadors “work together to confront new and daunting obstacles in Indian Country,” while the alumni organization “serves as a think tank on pressing issues such as globalization and tribal enrollment.”
Parent volunteers informally founded the NAYA Family Center in 1974. It became a 501(c)(3) organization in 1994, serving self-identified Native American youth and their families throughout the Portland metropolitan area by promoting “cultural identity and education.”