The National Gathering 2018: July 20th – July 22nd

The National Gathering of American Indian Veterans is a yearly event held in the summer at Cantigny Park in Wheaton, Illinois. This three day event (July 20th – 22nd, 2018) honors veterans and military personnel of all cultures, eras, and branches in a Native way. Come to participate in special panels lead by veterans and veterans service providers on topics ranging from traditional health and wellness, working with the VA, jobs and economic development for veterans after service, and more. Watch entertaining performances from cultural groups and participate in powwow-style dancing with our veterans. Purchase art and other items from veteran artists and other traditional vendors. This event is free and open to the public, and anyone who would like to join us in honoring all those in the United States military. You can check out our printable flier here, and view the schedule of events below. In the case of severe inclement weather, Saturday morning and afternoon sessions will be held in the banquet hall at the Hilton hotel in Lisle/Naperville.

    Friday, July 20th:

    Welcome dinner for veterans and their families, hosted on Cantigny grounds

  • 4:30pm-5pm: Guests arrive
  • 5pm-5:45pm: Jack Wilson performance
  • 5:45pm: Opening Prayer by an Elder of the Pokagon (as we use their lands)
  • 6pm: Welcome song by Ironbear Drum
  • 6:05pm: Welcoming words by David Hiller (McCormick Foundation), Paul Herbert (Cantigny Park/1st Division Museum), Mark Cleveland (Trickster Board President), and Joe Podlasek (Trickster CEO and National Organizer)
  • 6:30pm: Dinner is served by Evviva Restaurant
  • 7pm: Welcome by Trickster Native Veteran of Illinois Commander
  • 7:05pm: Dan King’s story on starting the gathering the old way
  • 7:25pm: Greetings from guest speakers from around the country
  • 7:45pm: Introduction of facilitators and concepts of “Circles of Post Service Care” Joe Podlasek
  • 8pm: Ironbear Drum thank you song, and the playing of military songs by branch (veterans are encourage to stand while their song is being played)
  • 8:30pm: Recognition of volunteers, the committee, and Trickster’s board of directors

    Saturday, July 21st

  • 8:30am: Veteran roll call and line up
  • 8:45am: Welcome by McCormick Foundation representative
  • 8:50am: Bikers arrive from memorial ride-in
  • 8:55am: Setup of POW/MIA Table ceremony
  • 9am: Start of the Gathering – bringing the feather to head veterans
  • 9:30am: Michaela Marchi sings the national anthem, and veterans are recognized (by name, branch, tribe, and service time)
  • 10am-11:45pm: Start of the Circles of Post-Service Care (organized by women veterans, post-Vietnam veterans, and Vietnam/Korea/WWII veterans)
  • 11:45am: Lunch (provided free for registered veterans and their spouses)
  • 11:45pm-12:30pm: Mark Cleveland performance
  • 12:30pm-1pm: Veterans who attended Omaha Beach D-Day ceremonies and Charles Shay Indian Memorial Park in 2018 and playing of the slideshow
  • 1pm-1:30pm: Annalise Jennings speaking on Australian Indigenous Veterans
  • 1:30pm-4:30pm: Circles of Post-Service Care merge to create one circle for all veterans
  • 4:45pm-5pm: Maori Dancers performance
  • 5pm: Honoring Ceremony, emceed by NBC’s Chris Coffey, including Vietnam veteran pinning by Congressman Raja Kristhnamoorthi
  • 6pm: Dinner (provided free for all registered veterans and their spouses)
  • 6:05pm: Aztec Dancers performance
  • 6:30pm-7:15pm: Bill Miller performance
  • 7:15pm-8pm: Wade Fernandez performance
  • 8pm-10pm: Powwow

    Sunday, July 22nd

  • 8am: Breakfast at Cantigny grounds (provided free for registered veterans and their spouses)
  • 9am: Start of Gathering
  • 10am-11am: Review and feedback from the discussions on Saturday
  • 11am: Retire the Colors
  • 11:30am: Veteran and special guests welcome to head to Trickster for lunch, exhibit openings, a training by the Smithsonian and Library of Congress, and blues band concert
  • 2pm: General public are welcome Trickster for exhibit openings, a training by the Smithsonian and Library of Congress, and blues band concert featuring J.B. Ritchie and Dawn O’Keefe Williams & Three Off the Leash

Map of Grounds

Speakers and Honored Guests Include:

*Additional speakers and honored guest information to come

Stephanie Birdwell

Director of the Office of Tribal Government Relations at the Department of Veterans Affairs

Stephanie Birdwell is the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Director, Office of Tribal Government Relations. Ms. Birdwell has twenty years experience working in Indian Affairs, at both the federal and tribal government levels. Ms. Birdwell earned her Master’s Degree in Social Welfare from the University of California at Berkeley and her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma. On a personal note, she is an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma, where she was born and raised, and is mother to twin daughters. Ms. Birdwell was inspired to become a social worker by her father, Dwight Birdwell, a Vietnam Veteran.

“My father is a Vietnam War Veteran,” said Birdwell. “I saw the challenges he faced firsthand and seeing my dad throughout the years, watching him share his experience—I felt like I ‘got it’ and was inspired to become a social worker for Veterans.” Today, Birdwell’s job is to support American Indian and Alaska Native Veterans—and the number of women Veterans within that population is on the rise. “We are becoming more aware and understanding of their needs,” she said. “We need their stories to help us effectively step up our game.”

Chris Coffey

NBC 5 Chicago Investigative Reporter

Chris Coffey is a member of the NBC 5 Investigates team, and previously served as an investigative reporter at the NBC-owned station WVIT-TV in Hartford, Connecticut, where he was a founding member of the Troubleshooters unit. Chris uncovered examples of government waste and exposed flaws in the region’s aviation safety system. He also introduced viewers to the first-responding Newtown police officers, who shared their struggles following the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary.

A native of St. Louis, Chris attended Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri. He is a 1998 graduate with a degree in Communication. Chris and his wife, Kelly, are the proud parents of Emelia. Together with their beloved dachshund, Sophie, the Coffeys are happy to call Chicago home.

Mark Denning


Marin Webster Denning is enrolled in the Oneida Tribe of Wisconsin. His ancestry includes Menominee, Mille Lacs Ojibwe, Stockbridge-Munsee, French and English. Marin served as the Executive Director of Southeastern Oneida Tribal Services, a full-spectrum social service provider for Oneida tribal members. He is nationally recognized as a leading educator, lecturer and curriculum specialist in American Indian history and culture.

Marin served on the board of directors at Milwaukee’s Indian Community School, a flagship institution of Urban American Indian education, and during his tenure, the school was the recipient of the National Indian School Board Association Award for being a School Board of the Year. He also served as an adviser on the Gates Millennium Educational Foundation and is a board member of Indian Summer Festival. He is a lecturer at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee – in the school of education, and serves as a consultant and trainer with Boeing Corporation and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Susan Eleuterio

Folklorist, Educator, Consultant to Non-Profits

Susan Eleuterio is an independent folklorist, educator, and consultant to non-profits working in the Midwest. Projects include Show-Me Traditions: An Educator’s Guide to Teaching Folk Arts and Folklife in Missouri Schools for the Missouri Folk Arts Program which won the 2011 AFS Education Section Dorothy Howard Prize for excellent work which helps to incorporate folklore into K-12 classrooms and curricula. Other recent work includes teacher’s guides to Sudanese, Armenian, and Native American artists and arts in North Dakota for the North Dakota Council on the Arts Folk Arts program and collaboration on developing and creating the Midwest Folk Festival website.

Eleuterio holds an MA in American Folk Culture from the Cooperstown Graduate Program (SUNY/Oneonta) and a BA in English/Education from the University of Delaware. She is the author of Irish American Material Culture: A Directory of Collections, Sites and Festivals in the United States and Canada (Greenwood Press: 1988). She has conducted fieldwork and developed public programs including exhibits, performances, folk arts and oral history workshops and residencies in museums and schools, and developed professional development programs for teachers and artists for organizations around the Midwest and NY State as well as for the Southern Arts Federation. She formerly served as the Director of Ethnic and Folk Arts, Literature and Presenters Programs for the Illinois Arts Council and has co-developed two non-profit agencies, South Shore GRANTS Inc. which provides organizational development skills to non profit organizations and Company of Folk, which documents and showcases the folk and local culture of the southern shores of Lake Michigan including Chicago.

Saginaw Grant

Native Korean War Veteran, Actor

US Marine Corps Veteran (Korea), Saginaw Grant served his country at a young teen just starting out in the world. When asked the question, “why did you decide to join the military” Saginaw replies, “I wanted to do something for our country, the country that our Native American people found and have lived on for many, many generations”. Saginaw was recruited into the US Marine Corp at the age of 17 and served for 4 years. An E-6 classification (Staff Sergeant) he worked as a military police during his time in the US Marine Corp as well as other duties. His first assignment was at Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, California where he also did much of his military training.

Today at the age of 82 and a proud US Marine Corp Korean Veteran, he has continued to participate in many events that honor veterans. Saginaw also feels that it is very important that “we honor our Native American veterans” who have served this country but did not always get the recognition that they deserved. His community services include, visiting the young men & women at Camp Pendleton who are serving this country today, public speaking, and attending events that honor our military war veterans.

David Hiller

President and Chief Executive Officer of the Robert R. McCormick Foundation

David D. Hiller is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, a role he’s held since July 2009. Previously, David was Publisher and Chief Executive Officer of the Los Angeles Times, and before that, Publisher and Chief Executive Officer of the Chicago Tribune. David joined Tribune Company in 1988 as Vice President/General Counsel, and held a number of leadership positions at the company, including President of Tribune Interactive. Prior to Tribune, David was a partner with the Chicago law firm of Sidley & Austin. Before that, he served two years at the U. S. Department of Justice as Special Assistant to Attorney General William French Smith and as Associate Deputy Attorney General. During 1979 and 1980, Hiller was a law clerk to United States Court of Appeals Judge Malcolm Wilkey and Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart.

A native of the Chicago area, David graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He is chairman of the board of the Chicago History Museum and serves on the boards of The Field Museum, the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, and Thrive Chicago. He is a life trustee of Roosevelt University. He is a member of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, the Commercial Club of Chicago, where he serves as chair of the Veterans Working Group, and the Economic Club of Chicago.

Annalise Jennings

Community and Business Strategist

Annalise as the principal of Dynamic Exchange has over 25 years of experience in senior roles in financial services and other sectors including property and small business. Annalise is an experienced facilitator and has led business and community transformation in project management in large organizations and has an extensive background in risk management, community and organizational culture. This experience has been gained through working in India, Australia & New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

Since 2009, Annalise has worked extensively throughout Cape York Indigenous communities facilitating community growth, economic development and environmental sustainability. Annalise has spoken on transformation and maximizing human potential in a variety of business and community forums. Annalise specializes in delivering organizational and community change programs.

Dan King

President of Wisconsin Indian Veterans Association, National Congress of American Indians

Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Illinois’s 8th District

Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi was elected to represent Illinois’ 8th Congressional District on November 8, 2016, and is serving his first term in the United States Congress. Rep. Krishnamoorthi, grew up in Illinois and has dedicated his life to serving our community and fighting for our most vulnerable citizens. The son of Indian immigrants to the U.S., Raja is a progressive advocate for protecting Social Security and Medicare, making higher education more affordable, and bolstering small businesses.

Juanita Mullen

American Indian & Alaska Native Veterans Liaison from the Office of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs

Juanita J. Mullen joined the Center for Minority Veterans and Center for Women Veterans in October 2004. She serves as the American Indian Veterans Liaison for both centers. As Liaison for the American Indian Veteran’s community, she is constantly engaged in different events that promote cultural diversity. She also identifies issues that effect American Indian Veterans. She is a member of the Seneca Nation of Indians (Keeper of the Western Door), Cattaraugus Indian Reservation located in western New York.

Ms. Mullen retired from the Air Force in 2000, after 20 years of service. Half of her career was spent serving under Headquarters U.S. Air Forces Europe. She has received numerous medals to include the Air Force Achievement Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, NATO Medal, and the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award. Upon retirement, she was hired by the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington D.C. She worked as a Self Determination Specialist in Contracts & Grants with the Eastern Regional Office, Education Specialist with the South Eastern States Agency (SESA), and as an Administrative Officer for Budget Management at the Department of Interior.

Elizabeth Perez

Deputy Secretary for Minority Veterans, California Department of Veteran Affairs

Elizabeth Perez, was appointed on January 9, 2018, by Governor Brown as Deputy Secretary for Minority Veterans at the California Department of Veterans Affairs. Elizabeth has been president and founder at GC Green Incorporated since 2010. She was a member of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee Delegation in Israel in 2016 and a 2013 White House Veteran Champion of Change. Perez was a director in business development at Xnergy from 2007 to 2011 and a branch manager at Ferguson Contractors from 2005 to 2007. She was an aviation logistics specialist for the U.S. Navy from 1997 to 2005. Perez is a Truman National Security Project fellow and a member of the California Sustainable Energy Entrepreneur Development Initiative Board, Disabled Veterans Business Alliance of California San Diego Chapter Board, American Indian Chamber of Commerce of California San Diego Chapter, American Legion Post 365 and the California Nations Indian Gaming Association.

Tony Pike

Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Tribal Veteran

Harvey Pratt

Smithsonian’s National Native American Veterans Memorial Design Winner, Marine Corps Veteran

Harvey Pratt, the designer whose concept was selected to create the Smithsonian’s National Native American Veterans Memorial for the National Museum of the American Indian, is a Cheyenne and Arapaho tribal member. He is a self-taught artist from Oklahoma and a forensic artist. Pratt works in oil, watercolor, metal, clay and wood. His works include themes of Native American history and tradition and the Cheyenne people. Pratt is a multimedia artist and recently retired forensic artist, as well as a Marine Corps Vietnam veteran.

Lorenda T Sanchez

Executive Director of California Indian Manpower Consortium, Inc.

Since late 1977, Ms. Sanchez has served as the Executive Director of the California Indian Manpower Consortium, Inc. The Consortium is the largest Native American social and human service organization in the United States, encompassing a geographic service area of 97 reservations and 39 counties throughout California, the State of Illinois, and Clinton, Muscatine and Scott Counties in Iowa. Through a combination of adult and youth workforce development, child care, services to Indian elders, community services, and global, tribal, and Native entrepreneurial opportunities, she continues to focus her efforts on addressing these needs of Native Americans.

While being proud of her Northern Paiute heritage, Ms. Sanchez believes that her most cherished accomplishment is that her six children have pursued higher education and four of the six who have attained their degrees are committed to work in service of Indian communities.

Michael Sisson

Vice-Chairperson of the Puyallup Tribal Veterans Committee

Peter Vicaire

Tribal Government Relations Specialist, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Peter Vicaire is a member of the Listuguj Mi’gmaq First Nation in Quebec, Canada, where he was raised. He is also a former U.S. Marine, honorably discharged as a sergeant after serving with the 8th & I Presidential Honor Guard in Washington D.C. and as an infantry squad leader with 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines. He has both American (Michigan State University) and Canadian (University of Ottawa) law degrees, with a specialization in indigenous law, and is licensed to practice in New York and Minnesota. He also has a master’s degree in military studies from the American Military University. He is married and has two children.

Performers Include:

*Listed in order of performance

Jack Wilson – Friday, 5pm – 5:45pm

Guitar fingerpicking champion Jack Wilson will be interpreting classic rock standards and more. Watch and be amazed at how he plays the bass line, chords and melody all at the same time on one guitar.

Michaela Marchi – Saturday, 9:30am

Michaela Marchi is a multi-ethnic (Italian, Filipina and Isleta Pueblo) singer/songwriter at heart and truly values the power of music to bring people together and communicate unspoken truths. She has always been moved by different genres and cultural influences in music, language and education. She worked at The Field Museum with cultural anthropologists building bridges between diverse communities across the city for several years and then travelled to teach ESL in other countries. She has studied classical voice over the years from a young age and performed professionally and also sat in with local blues bands in Chicago. She taught Music Together in her hometown of Evanston for a few years while raising her two children and has most recently returned her focus to songwriting. She is most honored to sing for the veterans at this commemoration.

Mark ClevelandMark Cleveland – Saturday, 11:45pm – 12:30pm

Mark Cleveland provides a unique entertainment experience. Audiences respond to the storytelling lyrics, uniquely delivered in songs woven from the Native American tradition, World Culture and contemporary American Life. Audiences return to experience full powered vocal presence of this accomplished Singer Songwriter and World Musician.

Performing for the Dali Lama and in other international events, Mark Cleveland is a repeat performer at the World Music Festival, Millennium Park, Navy Pier and in major Chicago venues like the Old Town School or Shuba’s. Accomplishments include composing the soundtrack for the Field Museum’s Ancient Americas exhibit, recording with Yo Yo Ma’s Cross Roads project, sharing the stage with Golden Globe and NAMA Award Winner Bill Miller and Wade Fernandez on tour. His music has been featured on Chicago and U.S. media, and internationally on Web Streaming Radio.

Maori Dancers – Saturday, 4:45pm – 5pm

Aztec Dancers – Saturday, 6:05pm – 6:30pm

Bill MillerBill Miller – Saturday, 6:30pm – 7:15pm

Bill is a three time Grammy Award Winner and a Native American singer/songwriter of Mohican heritage. He was born on the Stockbridge-Munseereservation, near Shawano in northern Wisconsin. Miller’s Mohican name is Fush-Ya Heay Aka (meaning “bird song”). He began playing guitar when he was 12 years old, and is an accomplished player of the Native American flute.

In 1973, he moved to Milwaukee and won an art school scholarship; today he is an accomplished artist whose drawings and paintings have been widely praised. In 1984, he moved to Nashville. His biggest break came when popular musician Tori Amos, after listening to his Red Road CD on her tour bus, asked him to serve as the opening act on her Under the Pink tour.

Miller continuously gained fans with other artists from a broad musical spectrum. He went on to tour with diverse musicians such as Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, The BoDeans, Richie Havens, and Arlo Guthrie and wrote songs with artists such as Nanci Griffith, Peter Rowan and Kim Carnes. In 2005, Miller’s instrumental Cedar Dream Songs won a Grammy Award for Best Native American Music Album.

Wade Fernandez – Saturday, 7:15pm – 8pm

“Your life is all that you’ve touched, all that has touched you and all that came before you. You only really live it when you learn to listen to its music.” WF

Born on the Menominee Indian Reservation in Wisconsin, USA. Wade grew up in a house surrounded by dense forest. “I could walk through the trees for maybe 6 miles behind the house and not see another human being. After crossing the road in front of the house, I could probably walk another 10 miles and once again, see only forest and animals.” The Menominee Reservation is over 95% forest and the roots of Wade’s inspiration.

Wade’s first attempt at playing music came at the age of 5. His dad sat him down in front of a record player, handed over a “huge” acoustic guitar and said try to figure out this song. It was “Apache” by the Shadows. Young Wade thought cool an Indian song, but after 10 minutes of having no clue, he decided to give it up. But then at 11 years old, Wade decided to pick up the guitar and started a band on the rez with his cousin Quint. Since then he has won several national/international awards and scholarships for music and other forms of artistic expression (including video and writing). Wade toured Europe several times, played and produced CDs, and played many styles of music before he decided to go to college and further his study of music. Currently, Wade has a degree in Music Education with a teacher’s certification, manages an active music career, works a GEAR UP job for students on the Menominee Indian Reservation, is a member of the Menominee Indian School Board, working on several film projects, writing a play, teaches native flute/guitar/bass/rock band classes, and is raising a beautiful family of 5 children with his wife on the reservation.

Dawn O’Keefe Williams & Three Off the Leash – Sunday, Trickster Gallery Afterparty

Dawn O’Keefe Williams, a diversified singer, will rock your blues away! Her style of music is universal, and has been recognized by Billboard with an Award of Achievement for her original song STONE COLD FOOL. Dawn mixes her blues with Rock, R&B, Jazz, Pop and Reggae in her performances. Her style of music sounds like “Bonnie Raitt meets Etta James”; yet Dawn has a distinctive sound all her own from sultry velvety tones to belting it out with an incredibly powerful voice.

When it comes to entertaining Dawn has only the best well-seasoned musicians backing her. As Entertainment Plus Agency stated… “Your vocal style, the music you selected and your band arrangements were perfect for our diverse audience of all ages.” You will find Dawn at some of the finest venues in the Chicagoland area such as Navy Pier, Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago Blues Festival, Taste of Chicago, festivals and more. Dawn’s self-titled CD has received airplay on several major markets in the U.S., as well as in Europe.

J.B. Ritchie – Sunday, Trickster Gallery Afterparty

Steeped in the rich blues tradition of Chicago, J.B. Ritchie is known as “that wicked slide player”, and has worked with Luther Allison. The rest of the band also carries some pretty hefty credentials. Frank Bandy on bass has been nominated for a W.C. Handy Award and drummer Marty Binder has appeared on the Tonight Show. Both men have toured with several top name blues performers.

If the new generation of guitar driven blues rock would-be comers (Johnny Lang and Kenny Wayne Shepard) have failed to deliver what you want, look no further than Power Blues by J.B. Ritchie. “With his strong persona, even a “blues virgin” cannot help but respond when he asks “I said do you dig the blues?” He is the ultimate in cool and has the talent and expertise to back it up. Definitely a musician to see, especially if you are a musician.” – Chicago Rocker Newsletter. A fine and powerful tribute to Chicago blues. For those of you who like blues rock in the vein of ZZTop, Canned Heat and the Allman Brothers – dig in and dig it

Want to place an ad in our event program? Click here to see a downloadable PDF with examples of ad pages, and contact Joe Podlasek at for more details.

Sponsors Include:

American Indian Cancer Foundation

The American Indian Cancer Foundation supports innovative, community-based interventions that engage Native populations in the discovery of their own cancer best practices.

American Red Cross

The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.?

Cantigny Park

Cantigny is a 500-acre park in Wheaton, Illinois, 30 miles west of Chicago. It is the former estate of Joseph Medill and his grandson Colonel Robert R. McCormick and is open to the public.

Comcast/NBC Universal

NBCUniversal is one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience.

Chicago Blackhawks

The Chicago Blackhawks Foundation supports programs and institutions throughout Illinois that work towards creating a better tomorrow.

Cohen Veterans Network

At the Cohen Veterans Network, we seek to improve the quality of life for veterans, including those from the National Guard and Reserves, and their families.

Evviva! Pizzeria and Cafe

A compact pizzeria with a quaint feel & outdoor tables turning out classic pies & Italian standards.

First Division Museum

The First Division Museum has been a part of Cantigny Park and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation since 1960. The original museum was housed in what is now the Cantigny Park Visitors Center.

First Nations Women Warriors

First Nations Women Warriors is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. They are a group of professional Native Women Veterans who are focused on helping Veterans through guidance and resources.

Four Winds Casinos

Four Winds Casinos are entertainment venues all owned and operated by the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians.

Gun Lake Tribe

The Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians (Gun Lake Tribe) is part of the historic Three Fires Confederacy, an alliance of the Pottawatomi (Bodewadmi), Ottawa (Odawa), and Chippewa (Ojibwe).

Helix Camera & Video

Photography shop stocking a wide array of high-end cameras & gear for beginning & advanced shooters. They have a space available for photography classes, workshops, new product demonstrations, and more.

Illinois Arts Council Agency

The Illinois Arts Council Agency was created as a state agency by the Illinois General Assembly in 1965, and serves the people of Illinois through a variety of grants and services.

Inter-Tribal Council of AT&T Employees

This group has made a cultural development arena which helps with career advancement and education, and encourages a better understanding of all employees, more specifically Native Americans.

Jimmy’s Red Hots

Jimmy’s is family owned and operated still to this day. For over 55 years Jimmy’s has tried its best to keep serving what Chicago knows to be the best Depression style hot dogs and polish sausage.


KeyBank is an American regional bank headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio. They have 160+ years of doing work that matters for their clients, communities and employees by building enduring relationships.

Meier Clinics

The Christian counseling professionals at Meier Clinics help people struggling with anxiety, depression, relationship issues, stress, and trauma. They treat the whole person— emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

Mohegan Tribe/Mohegan Sun Casino

Mohegan Sun, created in 1996 by the Mohegan Tribe of Connecticut, features some of New England’s finest dining, hotel accommodations, retail shopping, live entertainment and sporting events.

Pala Band of Mission Indians

The 12,273-acre reservation is located in northern San Diego County, established for Cupeño and Luiseño Indians, who consider themselves to be one proud people — Pala.


PepsiCo is one of the world’s leading food and beverage companies. Their food and beverage portfolio includes 22 brands, and their products are sold in over 200 countries and territories.

PepsiCo RISE

RISE is PepsiCo’s Native American Employee Resource Group.


VALOR recognizes, appreciates and supports PepsiCo’s veterans, military members, their families, and the communities in which they live and work.

PNC Bank

PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. is a Pittsburgh-based financial services corporation. For 160+ years, they have been committed to providing their clients with great service and powerful financial expertise.

Pokagon Band of Potawatomi and Veterans Group

Pokagon citizens have long sustained their culture and connection to their homeland; numerous place-names in northern Indiana and southwest Michigan continually reflect that connection.

Robert R. McCormick Foundation

The Robert R. McCormick Foundation is part of the legacy of Col. Robert R. McCormick, the long-time editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune.

Smithsonian Institution NMAI

The Smithsonian Institution is the world’s largest museum, education, and research complex.

Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines Co. is a major U.S. airline, the world’s largest low-cost carrier, headquartered in Dallas, Texas.

Trickster Art Gallery

Trickster Gallery was established on March 5, 2005 to create a unique contemporary view of Native arts, cultural education and awareness.


Tyson Foods has grown over the years and decades to find new ways to help feed the nation, with the belief that every family deserves to bring quality chicken to their table.

United Airlines

United is an American airline headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. It is the world’s third-largest airline when measured by revenue.

Veteran Roasters: Cup O’ Joe

The words veteran and homeless should never be used in the same sentence, so we decided to start a coffee company and hire homeless and unemployed veterans.

Members of the Event Committee Include:

  • Joseph Podlasek (Organizer)
  • Mike Pamonicutt (Commander, Native Veteran Group)
  • Kara Marselle (Secretary)
  • Joe L. Yazzie
  • Phil Valenzo
  • Elizabeth Wimmer
  • Wil Garza
  • Angel Salas-Reveles
  • Crystal Karp
  • Leto Minowa
  • Jody Frauggia
  • Theresa Seidel
  • Eve Muir-Wilson
  • Tina Aragon
  • Marco Dabetic
  • Sheila Winters
  • Lisa Davis
  • Dawn O’Keefe Williams
  • Nicholas Schaaf
  • Emily Farr

Members of the Host Committee Include:

Kevin Brown

Tribal Councilor, and Chairman of Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority at Mohegan Sun

Marty Castro

Former Chairman US Civil Rights Commission at the White House, Current: Castro Synergies, LLC

Jeffrey A. Coady

Psy.D., CAPT, U.S. Public Health Service, Regional Administrator (Region V), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Jack Detzel

PepsiCo Director Supply Chain Capability & Optimization, President of PepsiCo VALOR

Senator Tammy Duckworth

U.S. Senator, Iraq War Veteran, Purple Heart recipient, and former Assistant Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs

Megan Everett

Veterans Program Director at Robert R. McCormick Foundation

First Nations Women Warriors

Native Women Veterans

Anthony Foerster

Pokagon Band of Patowatomi Indians Tribal Historian

Pete Hassen

Vice President of Marketing, Chicago Blackhawks

Paul Herbert

Executive Director, First Division Museum at Cantigny

Dan King

President of Wisconsin Indian Veterans Association, National Congress of American Indians

Debra Marton

Senior Manager of Community Investment, Comcast

Steven Milhiot

PepsiCo, President of PepsiCo Rise

Juanita J. Mullen

Liaison for AI/AN Veterans at Department of Veterans Affairs

Debbie P Rafael

Jesse Brown VA Medical Center

Peter Vicaire

Tribal Government Relations Specialist, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Eli Williamson

Chair and Co-Founder of Leave No Veteran Behind