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The Native Excellence Gala brings together Tribal Nation heads of state, community partners and members, educators, and students to celebrate changemakers and leaders who are making a positive impact on behalf of the Indigenous community. With prestigious awards bestowed upon nominated individuals, the evening includes a VIP reception, dinner, silent auction, and entertainment to honor and celebrate award recipients. Ticket proceeds will support the Native Student Scholarship fund.

Tatanka Means in a dark gray suit and sunglasses

Event Host

Tatanka Means

Tatanka Means is an award-winning actor and comedian from Chinle Arizona. He represents the Navajo, Oglala Lakota, Yankton Dakota and Omaha nations.

His most recent work includes FX’s critically acclaimed series "Reservation Dogs," the new epic trilogy "Horizon" by Kevin Costner, and the upcoming highly anticipated Martin Scorsese Western crime drama, "Killers of the Flower Moon." Tatanka can be seen next in the upcoming feature "Wind River 2." Tatanka performs stand-up comedy throughout Indian Country spreading laughter and humor to all ages. He was recently named Entertainer of the Year by the National Indian Gaming Association and was voted Best Comedian by Albuquerque the Magazine.

Native Excellence Awards

Presented at the Native Excellence Gala, these awards amplify and celebrate individuals who exemplify Indigenous excellence and whose leadership inspires, uplifts, and paves the path forward for the Indigenous community. It is with great pleasure that we recognize and honor the following individuals as a recipients of the 2023 Native Excellence Awards.

Malcolm Lehi

Knowledge Keeper

Jenna Murray


Ronald Wopsock

Lifetime Achievement

Alexander Tallchief Skibine

Lifetime Achievement (In Memoriam)

Rupert Steele

Lifetime Achievement (In Memoriam)

Faith Bowman

Native Excellence at the U

Elizabeth Kronk Warner

Native Excellence in Higher Education

Patricia John

Native Excellence in PK-12 Education

Stephanie Benally

Native Excellence in the Community

Heather Tanana

Native Excellence in Health Equity

Calvin Crosby

Native Excellence Community Partner