This year’s recipient of the Wendell A. Chino Award is the Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma for their contributions and aid during the May 2011 tornado in Joplin, Missouri.
At an award banquet during the tradeshow in San Diego, the NIGA Chairman, Ernie L. Stevens Jr. thanked the tribe for their efforts to help the nearby town of Joplin, Mo., after a devastating tornado.
The Quapaw Chairman, John Berrey, along with their vice chairman J.R. Matthews, his son and tribal councilmember Thomas Matthews, his mother and many other members of their nation walked up to the stage to receive their award.
“The Quapaw tribe, this nation of First Responders, demonstrated their innate ability to mobilize and provide a safe recourse for Joplin,” Stevens said. “Lead by the humility and heart of John Berrey, this tribe has served their country at a great level.
“The Wendell A. Chino Award Humanitarian Award is one of the highest awards in Indian country and the Quapaw Tribe have certainly earned it.”
Berrey dedicated the award to J.R. Matthews’ son, Seneca Black Elk Matthews, a Downstream employee, who was a recent victim of a car accident just a few weeks before the award was presented. He was acting as a first responder of an accident moments before.
“This one event did not define who we are, but we define ourselves as proud Native Americans,” Berrey said. “We are fortunate to have the resources from tribally owned gaming businesses that can allow us to help others.”
The award was presented to the Quapaw tribe by Mark Chino, Wendell Chino’s son. Wendell Chino, the award’s namesake, is an iconic figure in Indian country. He was a nationally recognized leader of the Mescalero Apache Nation, serving most of his life as his nation’s president. He modeled his philosophy by turning the Mescalero reservation into a small business empire that raised his nation to a level of economic growth never before experienced by any other Native American tribe.