Canku Ota


(Many Paths)


An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


March 10, 2001 - Issue 31



Local American Indian Wins Honor


by Rhina Guidos Reno-Gazette-Journal


Shawna Kirsten’s dream to improve the tribal court system has won the Hungry Valley woman one of 16 spots in a nationwide program that promotes leadership skills among members of American Indian tribes.

Kirsten, a member of the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony, has been selected to participate in this year’s national American Indian Ambassadors Program.

With the ambassadors program, Kirsten, 28, will travel throughout the country and abroad during the next two years, sharing her culture with members of other American Indian tribes. During that period of time, she will design a program that may help establish mediation court, a program to help tribal families or individuals resolve problems without litigation in the tribal court system.

“I hope to learn from the program and share what I learn with my community,” Kirsten said.

For the last eight years, Kirsten has worked as a tribal court advocate for the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony. At work, she sees families and individuals who have problems that can be resolved without action from the courts, she said. Establishing an alternative court would help bring back old customs and practices of peacemaking rituals among American Indians at the colony, she said.

The ambassadors program helps its participants work on a service project for their communities, so that participants learn to incorporate their respective traditional tribal values into their daily lives.

Lois Kane, of Fallon’s Paiute-Shoshone Tribe, and Cassidy Williams, of Walker River, are the only tribal members from Nevada to have participated in the 7-year-old program.

“The purpose of the ambassador program is to rekindle dormant visions, renew and energize the current leadership, and empower emerging leaders to create new avenues for Native Americans to express their cultural values in all arenas of contemporary life,” Kane said. “Shawna now has the opportunity to network with a wonderful organization that envisions a world that recognizes and celebrates the contributions and continuation of Native American values.”

Americans for Indian Opportunity, the agency that runs the ambassador program, receives more than 100 applications from tribal members throughout the nation.

To learn more:
Write to American Indian Ambassadors Program, 681 Juniper Hill Road, Bernalillo, NM 87004
Americans for Indian Opportunities




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