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PHOENIX — The Native American Finance Officers Association (NAFOA) recognized three Native American leaders at its 2023 Fall Finance and Tribal Economies Conference on the Gila River Indian Reservation last week in Phoenix. 

At the conference, the NAFOA Lifetime Achievement Awards were presented to Dr. Henrietta Mann (Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes) and Chairman Mark Macarro of the Pechanga Band of Indians, and Mike Lettig, retiring National Executive for KeyBank. Letting was presented an Honorary Leadership Award for his dedicated career serving Indian Country.

Dr. Henrietta Mann (Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes)

Dr. Henrietta “ “Ho'e-osta-oo-nah'e” (Prayer Woman) Mann, is a distinguished professor from the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes. With a career spanning decades, Dr. Mann has been a steadfast advocate for Native education. She served as Director and Professor of Native American Studies at the University of Montana, Missoula, for 28 years, achieving tenure before her departure in 2000. Dr. Mann also held the distinguished position of founding President of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal College and was the first occupant of the Endowed Chair in Native American Studies at Montana State University, Bozeman. Her educational contributions extended to renowned institutions such as the University of California, Berkeley; the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University; and Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas.

In addition to her academic leadership, Dr. Mann played vital roles in federal leadership, including serving as the Director of the Office of Indian Education Programs/Deputy to the Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Her exceptional contributions garnered widespread recognition, with Rolling Stone Magazine naming her one of the nation's top ten professors in 1991. Subsequently, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Indian 

Education Association in 2008. Dr. Mann's dedication to Native communities also led to the creation of the Dr. Henrietta Mann Leadership Award by the College Board's Native American Student Advocacy Institute (NASAI) in 2013. In 2016, she achieved the distinction of being one of only two Native American scholars ever elected to the National Academy of Education. Earlier this year, Dr. Mann was awarded the acclaimed National Humanities Medal at the White House by President Joe Biden.

Mark Macarro (Pechanga Band of Indians)

Mark Macarro is the current Chairman of the Pechanga Band of Indians, located in Southern California. First elected in 1995, his tenure is marked with notable accomplishments that have advanced the Tribe’s economic and cultural development. Under his visionary leadership, the Pechanga Indian Reservation's land base doubled in size and improved its infrastructure, healthcare, and cultural preservation efforts. These accomplishments include the development of two full-response fire stations; tribal citizen medical, dental, and vision insurance programs; a college university and vocational scholarship program; a fully accredited bilingual on-reservation school; a tribal publishing company; and various language programs. His influence extends to federal legislation, where Chairman Macarro played a pivotal role in the passage of the Indian Financing Amendments Act, the Pechanga Indian Land Transfer Act 1, and the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN) Act, which contained the Pechanga Water Rights Settlement Act. 

Chairman Macarro has served on multiple influential boards and councils, including the National Congress of American Indians, where he currently serves as 1st Vice President. In 2020, he was appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom to the inaugural California Truth and Healing Council. Chairman Macarro’s extensive contributions to Indian Country have also garnered him numerous prestigious awards, including the 2019 Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries & Museum Guardian of Culture and Lifeways Outstanding Tribal Leader Award, the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development’s Jay Silverheels Award; and Indian Country Today’s 50 Faces of Indian Country Award.

Mike Lettig, National Executive for KeyBank

Mike Lettig, National Executive for KeyBank, has been a dedicated and longstanding supporter of NAFOA and Indian Country. Under Lettig’s leadership, KeyBank started its Native American Financial Services, making them one of the first financial institutions to create dedicated teams serving Indian Country. KeyBank has since collaborated with numerous tribes to strengthen and expand their local economies.
 
Lettig has been part of the NAFOA community as a conference speaker, moderator, a member of the Corporate Advisory Committee, and a supporter of the Institute’s educational programs. After decades of service to tribal communities, Mike Lettig is preparing for a well-deserved retirement. His dedication is recognized with a NAFOA Honorary Leadership Award.

 

 

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Levi Rickert
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Levi "Calm Before the Storm" Rickert (Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation) is the founder, publisher and editor of Native News Online. Rickert was awarded Best Column 2021 Native Media Award for the print/online category by the Native American Journalists Association. He serves on the advisory board of the Multicultural Media Correspondents Association. He can be reached at [email protected].