The prestigious Native American Finance Officers Association (NAFOA) Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Vincent Armenta, former Chairman of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, and Arlan D. Melendez, Chairman of the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony during its 9th Annual Lifetime Achievement Awards Luncheon on Sept. 20.

The award is given to an Indian Country leader who has made significant contributions to tribal economic development throughout the span of his or her career. NAFOA’s board secretary, Dawson Her Many Horses, presented Armenta with his second lifetime achievement award. Armenta served nearly 17 years as the Chairman of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians.

“Today’s Lifetime Achievement Award winners’ careers have had a lasting economic effect on their tribe and have been beneficial to all of Indian Country,” remarked NAFOA’s First Vice President VaRene Martin.

Award winners were presented with a beautiful stone-carved eagle sculpture and an eagle feather gifted by the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma. Many Native American tribes believe that giving an eagle feather symbolizes that the recipient has demonstrated extraordinary leadership or service on behalf of his or her people. The Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma rehabilitates eagles at the Grey Snow Eagle House for eventual release into the wild and cultivates naturally molted feathers for religious and cultural purposes. The awards ceremony was held at Méridien Hotel in Charlotte, North Carolina.