Native American Initiative (NAI) program

Native American Initiative (NAI) program

Throughout most of 2020, the adverse effects of the coronavirus have been felt around the world and it has disproportionately infected under-resourced and often neglected population subgroups. There is no more striking example of this disparate impact than the toll on the Navajo Nation. Leaders within Rotary District 5420 in Utah determined in the 2020-21 year, a major focus for Rotarians would be to support the Navajo community in Utah.

We ended the Rotary year 2020-2021 with the conclusion of DG Linda Sappington’s year as Governor by completing the Halchita Community Center Project which involved about 80 people from around the District.  This project was a tremendous success and the Navajo people in Halchita are making good use of the center.  They have an After School Program underway that started about a week after we completed the project and is still going strong.  The average of 22 young students are in the program.

The NAI program didn’t end with the successful Halchita project.  On December 16, 2023, we delivered Christmas blankets to the Navajo elders at Red Mesa and the Ute Mountain Ute elders at White Mesa.  We are now working on a project to install a shade awning on the side of the Red Mesa Senior Center.

We are also working on involving Native American youth in Rotary programs looking to the next RYLA conference in June of 2024.  We were successful two years ago in getting two Ute Mountain Ute girls to RYLA.  They really had a great time and are doing well now looking forward to enrolling in college.

The scope of the NAI program encompasses all the tribes in Utah.  We took food and clothing to the Goshutes located at Ibapah, Utah.  Recently, the home of one of the tribal members burned down.  She lost everything she owned.  We marshaled several NAI clubs and delivered a large amount of clothing and food for her and her family members.

We are talking to the Kanosh Band of Paiutes about helping them with upgrading an existing park and playground and the NAI was instrumental in assisting them in getting new streetlights installed.

When the NAI program was initiated back In 2020, we formed a committee made up of 14 clubs from around the District. This committee now involves 8 clubs they are:

Name Club Name Club
Paul Summers, Chair Bountiful Linda Sappington, Co-Chair St. George
Dan Bradshaw Bountiful John May Bountiful
Chuck Baker Bountiful Paul Monroe Cedar City
Kelly Crane Richfield Debby Lauret Orem
Larry Hogge Logan Ben Jarvis Logan
Janet Ross Monticello Lisa Carr Blanding

All are great contributors to the NAI program.

We recently adopted the following strategic plan that will guide our activities in the future.

Rotary District 5420

Native American Initiative Program


Mission Statement

The Rotary District 5420 Native American Initiative (NAI) exists to address needs in Utah Native American families on their path toward self-reliance.

Activities to accomplish this mission:

  • Establish friendships and trusting relationships with local community officials such as Chapter Presidents and other designated community leaders.
  • Understand the needs of each community which will enable us to work efficiently
  • Provide aid to Native American communities through such resources as skills training, shelter, food, education, and where necessary limited financial assistance to cover costs required to fulfill this mission.
  • Complete three smaller projects a year and one larger project. This will include projects approved by the tribal community served.
  • Collaborate with other non-profit organizations which work with Utah’s tribal communities to provide assistance needed without overlap of time and money.
  • Consult with Native American officials in state agencies and organizations to better understand cultural norms to allow us to work more effectively in Native American communities.
  • Meet with NAI Committee members on a monthly basis, unless projects require greater frequency, to collaborate and determine any tribal needs and update program direction.
  • Include all committee members in efforts to procure financing for projects such as applying for District Grants, fundraising projects, and seeking other financial avenues. This could include in-kind gifts or materials or services or grants as written by members and approved by NAI.

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