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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: , Public Education Director, 303-426-8900

The Fund Awarded Best in Class Charity at Annual Forging Hope Event

April 12, 2010

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San Bernardino, Calif. - The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians held its second annual Forging Hope Luncheon at the National Orange Show in San Bernardino, California on March 30, bringing together non-profit groups from the philanthropic community for its inaugural Yawa´ Awards Ceremony. Yawa´ is a word and concept in the Tribe’s native Serrano Language that calls for one to act on their beliefs.

The American Indian College Fund received the Yawa’ Award for the education program area for its work in transforming American Indian higher education by funding and creating awareness of accredited, community-based tribal colleges and universities, and becoming the nation’s largest provider of private scholarships for American Indian students.

Other organizations recognized for their work were the San Bernardino based Inland Empire Chapter of the American Red Cross, whose partnership with the tribe began with a $500,000 donation in response to the attacks of 9/11 and has continued through local and global disasters in the health program area; the Havsu’ Baaja (Havasupai Tribe) of Arizona for its partnership with San Manuel and others to rebuild its tourism economy following a torrential flood though its Grand Canyon homelands in the economic program area; and the Second Harvest Food Bank, serving Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, for its distribution of more than 1.9 million pounds of food every month to regional food pantries in the special projects area.

The San Manuel Mission Band of Indians has contributed some $40 million to charities since 2001. Through partnerships with charitable organizations and community groups San Manuel honors the ancestral Serrano value of sharing resources with others in the program areas of health, education, economic development and special projects.

“The San Manuel Mission Band of Indians has been a longtime supporter of the American Indian College Fund and Native scholarships, and is supporting Native education in perpetuity through our Sovereign Nations Scholarship Fund Endowment,” said Richard B. Williams, President and CEO of the American Indian College Fund. “We are honored by this award and vow to merit it by continuing our work to ensure that every Native student that wants a college education can attain one, providing hope to Indian Country, one student at a time,” Williams said.

“Sharing has always been integral to the culture of the Yuhaviatam Clan of Serrano Indians (San Manuel) and it is in this tradition that we gather here today,” said San Manuel Chairman James Ramos. “The Tribe is pleased to unveil the first Yawa’ Awards and an enhanced charitable giving program to carrying forward our culture of sharing into the future.”

About the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians

The San Manuel Band of Serrano Mission Indians is a federally recognized American Indian tribe located near the city of Highland, Calif. The Serrano Indians are the indigenous people of the San Bernardino highlands, passes, valleys and mountains who share a common language and culture. The San Manuel reservation was established in 1891 and recognized as a sovereign nation with the right of self-government. Since time immemorial, the San Manuel tribal community has endured change and hardship. Amidst these challenges the tribe continued to maintain its unique form of governance. Like other governments it seeks to provide a better quality of life for its citizens by building infrastructure, maintaining civil services and promoting social, economic and cultural development. Today San Manuel tribal government oversees many governmental units including the departments of fire, public safety, education and environment.