PRESIDENT – Gregory G. Gomez

GREGORY G. GOMEZ, MSSW                                                                                                                                          

Gregory G. Gomez, Marine Corp – Vietnam Veteran

Lipan Mescalero Apache

Mr. Gomez was born at his Mother’s Lipan Apache Rancheria, known as Tutsande or Big Water People because of the Gulf Coast. He grew up doing ranch and farm migrant work in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New Mexico, Arizona, and California.

Gomez family doing migrant work in cotton fields in West Texas

Gregory G. Gomez, President, and Co-founder of the Indigenous Institute of the Americas.

Due to the family’s “nomadic” lifestyle, Mr. Gomez attended many schools, sometimes up to six different ones a year. His parents were big on education, especially reading and writing, so the children could mix, mingle and get along with all sorts of people. He attended Redlands Sr. High, Redlands, California, during his last three years while he worked with the family.

Mr. Gomez served in the Marine Corps from 11/10/65-12/31/68 and covered most of the SE Asian countries between 1967 and 1968. He received his BA degree in 1972 from Southwestern Union College, Keene, Tx. with a Major in Comparative World Religions and Modern Languages, Minor in History of Ancient Civilizations. In 1974, Mr. Gomez was the first American Indian to graduate from the School of Social Work at UTA, Arlington, TX. His Major was in Administration and Community Organizing.

A young Yanomamo Indian couple at Wasawateri Shabono in Traditional attire. This picture was taken in the Amazon rainforest of Venezuela, bordering Brazil close to the Orinoco river. I was there with my friend and Brother Napoleon Chagnon.

Mr. Gomez arrived in Dallas in 1972 and became involved with the American Indian Center under Director Waunita Elder. Ms. Elder asked Mr. Gomez to help train staff in community outreach. It is a common thread in the Indian community; if you volunteer for one job, you will end up with twenty. First President and Board Member Rayford MacIntosh requested Mr. Gomez help fill a vacant Board of Director position at the American Indian Center, ultimately leading to his being elected 3rd President of the American Indian Center from 1973-1975. Mr. Gomez quotes Mr. MacIntosh, who always said, ” If you work in the Indian community, you have to have the heart of a marshmallow and a hide like an elephant.”

Relaxing before a gathering at the Dallas Arboretum. Although currently living in Albuquerque, NM, Mr. Gomez returns to Dallas as often as possible for get-togethers such as our annual event and celebration of Indigenous cultures, “IIAC” held at the Chisholm Trail Outdoor Museum. Greg also leads zoom meetings on various cultural topics several times a year to continue sharing cultural knowledge.

In 1975, Mr. Gomez went into Federal Civil service with the US Department of Health and Human Services, formerly Health and Human Services, Administration for Children, Youth and Families. Mr. Gomez was a Program Specialist, where his job involved receiving, reviewing, funding, and monitoring grants for State, Tribal, University, Youth, and Head Start Programs.

From 1978 to 1980, Mr. Gomez worked for an Indigenous consultant firm, SVC & Associates, in San Francisco, CA, where he developed training materials for corporations and Western Arizona and 23 Nevada Tribal Governments.

When Mr. Gomez returned to Dallas in 1980, he returned to Civil service and was asked by the Dallas Inter-Tribal Center to serve on their Board of Directors. He served on the Board and was President of DIC for another two years. During that time, Mr. Gomez and the DIC helped sponsor Men’s and Women’s basketball and bowling teams and supported yearly tournaments in the community. There were two Indian centers during that time in Dallas, the Dallas Inter-Tribal Christian Center and the American Indian Center. As part of the American Indian Center, they took young Jr. High and High School students to the Creek Nation Jr. Olympics.

From 1983 to 1985, he served as the Executive Director and CEO of Ketchikan Indian Corporation, an Alaska Native Corporation in Alaska. Mr. Gomez retired in 1995 and moved to Albuquerque with his family. From 1997 to 2005, Mr. Gomez traveled Internationally, providing professional consultation on American Indian culture and diversity issues.

On a personal level, in 1997, Mr. Gomez learned he and others of his generation had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. As a result, he worked with the Albuquerque Veterans Administration to develop services for American Indian Veterans through the development of a Talking Circle and Sweat Lodge. In addition to the many hours he dedicates to the IIA, Mr. Gomez continues to attend the Talking Circle and consults with various community organizations and individuals.

Mr. Gomez is a life member of the Girl Scouts USA and served on the GSUSA National Board of Directors for six years. A Life Member of the American Indian Scouting Association and Disabled American Veterans. He was the founder of the Texas Indian Social Workers Association and currently serves on the Memnosyne Institute Board.

Mr. Gomez takes pride in being a direct descendant of Negoyani (Old Man of Wisdom). Negoyani was a Mescalero Chief commonly known as “Chief Gomez” in military history. The written history says that he “terrorized the San Antone Rd” between San Antonio and El Paso, Texas, in the 1840s-1860s. Mr. Gomez points out, “How can one be a terrorist when fighting for our land, people, and rights against foreign invaders .” 

Mr. Gomez values traditional living, is a storyteller, traveler, poet, photographer, thinker, dreamer, coyote, lover of life with lots of DNA, and NDN way family around the world. He is married to Dr. Cathy Gutierrez Gomez, and they have a daughter, a son, and two grandsons. Mr. Gomez has said, “So much ignorance exists that we must have an open and honest dialogue with each other for better understanding, so we do not continue repeating the same mistakes.”

President, Gregory Gomez working with Native youth about traditional views of healing.

Mr. Gomez has shared his knowledge in magazines and newspapers such as the Christian Science Monitor, and the Oklahoman, and in films such as The Big City Trail: The Urban Indians of Texas.   

President Gregory Gomez is working with Native youth about traditional views of healing.

In 2016, the IIA launched its series, Ask Uncle Gregory. This video effort results from Mr. Gomez’s accumulation of nieces and nephews’ “NDN” way, who are sometimes embarrassed to ask questions or don’t know who to ask about Native culture. In his travels, Mr. Gomez has seen many young and old alike who do not know their history. We currently “google” & “youtube” to learn about the culture and Native youth read books from authors who claim to be experts in Native spirituality yet do not even identify their tribal affiliation. Our culture is passed down from generation to generation, making it nearly impossible to convey or define our lifeways between two pieces of cardboard or in a movie. The Ask Uncle Gregory videos are an attempt to answer basic questions that have been asked of us over the years. It is a unique attempt to educate and relate our culture to the broader society through new technology.