Marcus Harrison Jr. Leadership Award

Marcus Harrison, Jr., (Comanche) – Former Chief Executive Officer of Native Health, located in Phoenix, Arizona was instrumental in arranging the community Talking Circles in 2004 that led to the first Urban American Indian Disability & Vocational Rehabilitation Summit the following year and continues successfully each year since, now known as the American Indian Disability Summit.  Mr. Harrison was a leader in the community and strongly advocated for those who needed a voice.  The Marcus Harrison, Jr., Leadership Award was established to acknowledge others working to keep that voice of advocacy for American Indians with disabilities alive through his/her leadership and dedication.

A Warrior's Vision Drawing

A Warrior’s Vision

 “The inspiration behind the painting of “A Warrior’s Vision” comes directly from Marcus Harrison himself.  He wanted to do as much as he could to make a better road toward connecting health concerns of American Indian people with education and availability of health services.  As the artist of this oil painting, I made every effort to capture the visions, ideas, spirit and plans that Marcus Harrison shared with me.  The painting is of a traditional dancer; the dancer is represented as a spirit painted in black and white.  His top feathers are a sign of his bravery and his eagle feather visor is to help his vision stay sharp as the eagle’s eyes to see danger, adversity and the enemy.  The eagle plume he wears is to honor his grandmother, his mother, his female relatives, and all American Indian women.  The main part of the picture is his shield, which is the only part of the picture that has color. The emblem depicted on the shield represents the Comanche Nation, of which Marcus was a member.  The meaning behind the colorful shield is this, although this young man has begun his journey along the spirit path, his vision, ideas, spirit and plans are still alive.  Oyate kin (the people) are keeping his vision alive, such as the people who are involved with the American Indian Disability Summit; they are helping to continue this vision.  I believe this is the greatest honor to my young brother.”

Mitakunye Oyasin,

Gary Rush, Artist, Great Sioux Nation

The American Indian Disability Summit Committee is very proud to announce the



Mateo TreeTop is a young man with a mission.  As a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in Ft. Yates, North Dakota, this young college man has won many awards and achieved much recognition for honoring his Sioux culture, his academic accomplishments, and his devotion to community service.

Mateo graduated from Mesa’s Westwood High School in May, 2015, with an award for ten years of perfect attendance.  That he was an excellent student is evidenced by the many awards accrued during his grade school years: Principal’s Honor Roll, Spring 2014, Fall 2014 and Spring 2015; International Thespian Society Member and Honor Thespian; Westwood High School Student of the Month, December 2013; Warrior PRIDE Teacher’s Personal Choice Award, December 2015; Native American Education Program Student of the Month, May 2015, and many others.  Mateo took his leadership role seriously, participating in many different leadership training programs including a student leadership training in 2014, the NAU Emerging Leaders Summer Academy in 2014, and the Arizona Youth Leadership Forum in 2015.  Mateo also served as a staff member for the 2016 Arizona Youth Leadership Forum and is presently the Executive Committee Parliamentarian.

Mateo is a grass dancer and served as the Head Boy Dancer at the 2009 ASU West Veteran’s Day Powwow, and as the Head Boy Dancer at the 2012 Westwood High School Social Powwow.  He also is active in Community Theater, having been involved in drama classes as a junior high and high school student, “graduating” to acting in the Detour Company Theatre group and in the ASU Thespian Festival.  Mateo earned the Drama King Award in May, 2013 for his outstanding dedication to the dramatic arts.

Mateo gives back to his community as a volunteer for the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program, serving as a big brother to an elementary school student and gets together with him for activities twice a month.  Mateo provides a positive role model to this youngster, in addition to helping him with homework, playing games, and providing encouragement and support.  He also volunteers at a pet rescue agency.

Accrual of all of these accomplishments is amazing for any young man; Mateo has succeeded in his educational and artistic endeavors with a Traumatic Brain Injury.  He was a guest speaker in June, 2012 at the TBI Professional Training Institute in Payson, Arizona, and answered questions on a panel of TBI survivors about dealing with educational and other challenges.  Regarding his success, Mateo stated the following: “My culture and traditions are important because they remind me of who I am.  My ancestors are inspiring to me because they were strong people who faced many challenges.  This helps me when I have difficult experiences.”   Mateo Treetop is a young man with a mission; a mission to succeed in life by staying true to his culture and traditions, and use his talents to encourage younger youth and set a positive example for how to live with integrity.  Mateo is worthy of the Marcus Harrison Jr. Leadership Award because he is a living leader with a track record of service and leadership at the tender age of 20.

Photo submitted by: Tona TreeTop.
Written and submitted by Betty Schoen.


2016 FERNANDO CRUZ (Posthumously)






2010  MICHAEL BLATCHFORD (Posthumously)