Saturday, July 20, 2024

About Us

Preserving culture

Indigenous cultures have survived through thousands of years of storytelling traditions, passing on our knowledge from person to person, community to community. IIA recognizes that by the nature of our geographical distances, Native peoples have the challenge of preserving the accuracy of our stories through our storytelling, not from narratives from outside our culture. IIA has tried to welcome the use of technology to document and share books, magazines, videos, social media, and, of course, the Internet. Our story may be boring for some, but one day, it will be part of the history of Indigenous peoples in the Americas. 

Our Story

The Indigenous Institute of the Americas was founded in the early 1980s. We are very fortunate that our original co-founders contribute to the daily knowledge, vision, and activities of IIAmericas. President Gregory Gomez, Spiritual Advisor – Eddie Sandoval, and Advisory Council- Dr. Cathy Gutierrez-Gomez assist us in developing a rich understanding of diversity in our cultures. They are role models for us, showing the importance of educating ourselves about the traditional worldviews of our many nations that are original to this hemisphere. We strive to respect, preserve, and share cultural knowledge and traditions as appropriate before colonial borders. We try very hard to mirror the teachings of these three elders by conducting our business both within and outside the organization, reflecting the values for children, elders, veterans, community, reciprocity, humbleness, integrity, collaboration, and cultural etiquette.  

In 2007, IIA held a powwow in Dallas, Texas, called “Celebration of Life” powwow. We began the official process of nonprofit registration in New Mexico, where our President and his wife, Dr. Cathy Gutierrez-Gomez, had moved in the 1990s. It was a comical time as we were all computer illiterate. Navigating the federal guidelines and systems by computer was difficult, and we relied on many allies to help us accomplish our nonprofit 501 (C) 3 status. 

We officially transferred the organization to Texas in 2014 when IIA inherited an annual event called Santa Fe Days on the Square in Carrollton, TX. Many recognize our organization through that fantastic event. American Indian artists from the Santo Domingo Pueblo and later other Nations from across the US attended the event reviving Native culture in the heart of the Dallas Ft. Worth, Texas area. 

Around 2009, IIA offered cultural consultation to the Downtown Merchants Association in Carrollton, TX, for this event. The ODCA welcomed our IIA representatives (Tosawi Pena and Annette Anderson) to their organizing committee to offer cultural competency in their programming. In 2014, the Downtown Carrollton area became disrupted by significant highway construction and renovations, so the event was transferred to IIA with the blessing of the ODCA organization.

IIA has continued the event. In 2014, the Frank Rush family, who owned the former Sandy Lake Amusement Park, opened their land for our event until 2019, when they retired and sold the amusement park.

We moved our event to the Chisholm Trial Outdoor Museum in Cleburne, Texas, just as the COVID-19 epidemic hit Texas in 2020. We used this time to rethink the name of our event and decided to change it to Indigenous Institute of the Americas Celebration or IIAC (pronounced eye-äk). The IIAC event at this venue has been amazing and successful. Ten beautiful acres of land for everyone to relax, play, and enjoy nature.

Organizational Structure

We comprise a Council of American Indians with many Circles of Knowledge carriers and advisors. We are a volunteer-only organization with all donations and fundraising efforts dedicated to our programs and annual event expenses.

IIA has a Council of four voting members. President Gregory G. Gomez, Vice-President Tanya Bond, Treasurer Constance Hargis, and Secretary Annette Anderson.  

We rely heavily on the collaboration and advisement of our Youth, Elders, and other knowledge-keepers.

Circle of Youth:  

Itsa Lichii Gomez, Apache-Huastic

Dahazhi Gomez, Apache-Huastic

Alicia Robinson, Chickasaw-Cherokee

Circle of Elders: 

Peggy Larney, Choctaw

Sammy Tonekei White, Kiowa – Deceased

Dr. Mario Garza, Coahuiltecan

Rose Wood, Athabascan

Circle of Advisors: 

Dr. Patrisia Gonzales, Kickapoo, Comanche, Chicana Evelio Flores, 

Dr. Cathy Gutierrez-Gomez, Huastec

Dr. Yolanda Maigua Teran, Kichwa

Karla Button, Seneca

Evelio Red Serpant Flores, Coahuilteco, Nahuatl

Lelia Boughenou

National Ambassadors

Tennessee- Emilia Gaston

International Ambassadors

Ulrica Abrahamsson, Sweden

Jacqueline Beer Heyerdahl, International

Axelle Comte Sponville, France

Theodosia Papazikou, Greece

Margaret Donnelly, JD Venezuela

Donna Huaman, Inca

Seed Ambassadors:

Sunflower – MegAnn S.

Bean – Kailey O Osage

Corn-  Alex O. Osage

Squash – 

Strawberry – Rhiannon S.

We formed our PURPOSE/MISSION statement in 2007, and our activities continue to support the broad language in those statements. 

OUR PURPOSE – To promote and share the similarities and differences comprising the traditional cultures of indigenous people in the Americas before and since 1492.

MISSION – To cultivate awareness of the Indigenous people of the Americas.

VISION –  A world that understands, values, respects, and celebrates Indigenous culture and perspective of the Americas.

This video explains the goals of our organization better than any written word. Thank you, “Uncle” Gregory Gomez, for sharing your vision.