In the 1980s, the Indigenous Institute of the Americas was the inspiration of Gregory G. Gomez, MSSW, Eddie Sandoval, and Cathy Gutierrez-Gomez., PH.D who at the time were all Dallas – Ft Worth, Texas residents.
Gregory G. Gomez is an Apache Vietnam Veteran with a long history working with and for the Native American Indian community. He has served as a Child Welfare Specialist at the Administration of Children and Families for the US Department of Health and Human Services, provided cultural guidance and consultation for various organizations, and currently serves as President of the Indigenous Institute of the Americas.
Eddie Sandoval, -also Apache, grew up in west Texas, where he was known for his athleticism in all sports. He received a scholarship for college in track & field. And attended several universities, including North Texas University and Texas Tech in Austin. Many people who know Mr. Sandoval in the academic world as a former Professor in Tarrant County do not realize he has been on cattle ranches his whole life and is an avid horseman. Mr. Sandoval spends his time with the love of his life, his horses and has continued his advocacy on the Native community. In December 2017, Mr. Sandoval was asked to assist in the ceremonial repatriation and re-internment of a 1,100-year-old Native woman’s remains, and this was not the first time. Mr. Sandoval assists in the repatriation and re-internment of artifacts and the remains of our people.
As a spiritual leader in our community, Mr. Sandoval worked extensively with the US Department of Justice to ensure Indian men had access to a sweat lodge and sacred amulets for sacred spiritual ceremonies. Mr. Sandoval is now retired after teaching almost 30 years as a Professor of Psychology and Engineering a Tarrant Co. Jr. College.
.Mr. Gomez and Mr. Sandoval, both Sun Dancers, worked together for many years to maintain a sweat lodge in Burleson, TX. Then, starting in the 1990s and for many years after, they were blessed to work with a traditional healer from the Rosebud reservation who was influential in helping many Native people in Texas find their spiritual path in the right way.
Cathy Gutierrez-Gomez, Ph.D., Huastic is a Retired Professor in the College of Education at the University of New Mexico. She serves as a consultant on early childhood education, emphasizing the impact of a culturally sensitive curriculum on young children. Dr. Gomez has prepared many teachers to meet the needs of young Native children. Many of these teachers are hoping to return to their tribal lands to work with their community. Her specialized training and work with Head Start bring a unique understanding to the IIA and our work with young children and families.
Gregory Gomez at Gourd Dance to honor the Navajo Code Talker from WWII.