Our premier event and annual awards ceremony is named for Dr. Carlos Montezuma, a citizen of the Yavapai-Apache Tribe. He worked as a physician and social justice activist for Native American rights. Dr. Montezuma was the first Native American to earn an undergraduate and a medical degree from Northwestern University. In 1904 he became one of the founders of the Society for American Indians, which focused on improving the physical, social, and economic well-being of Native Americans.
U.S. Representative Sharice Davids will receive the 2022 Dr. Montezuma Award for her contributions to social activism that have advanced Native American people nationally. Rep. Davids is a Ho-Chunk Nation citizen and a member of the U.S. House, representing Kansas’ 3rd Congressional District. In 2019, she was sworn into the 116th Congress, making her one of the first two Native American women to serve in Congress and the first openly LGBTQ+ representative to be elected in Kansas. She was raised by a single mother who served in the Army for 20 years. After graduating from Leavenworth High School, she worked through Johnson County Community College and the University of Missouri-Kansas City before earning a law degree from Cornell Law School.
As a first-generation college student who worked the entire time she was in college, Rep. Davids understands the importance of quality public schools and affordable higher education. That foundation allowed her to go on to a successful career focused on economic and community development, which included time as a White House Fellow under President Barack Obama.