IIA was founded in the late 1980’s in the Dallas Ft. Worth Texas area by Gregory G. Gomez, Eddie Sandoval and Cathy Gutierrez-Gomez.
Gregory G. Gomez is an Apache Vietnam Veteran who has a long history of working with the Native American Indian community. He has served as a Child Welfare Specialist at the Administration of Children and Families for the US Department of Health and Human Services, provided consultation for various organizations and currently serves as President of the Indigenous Institute of the Americas (IIA).
Eddie Sandoval, another co-founder, grew up in west Texas and was known throughout that area for his ability to excel in all sports. He received a scholarship in track & field to attend college. Mr. Sandoval loves education and attended several universities including North Texas University and Texas Tech in Austin .
Many people who know Mr. Sandoval in the academic world do not realize he has been on cattle ranches his whole life and is an avid horseman. Mr. Sandoval spends his time with the love of his life, his horses and his advocacy on issues related to the Native community.
He was one of the 1st American Indians asked to assist in the repatriation and reinternment of artifacts and the remains of our people.
Another first, Mr. Sandoval worked extensively with the US Department of Justice to ensure Indian men were allowed access to a sweat lodge and sacred amulets for sacred spiritual ceremonies.
Mr. Gomez and Mr. Sandoval worked together for many years to maintain a sweat lodge in Burleson, TX. Starting in the 1990s and for many years after, they were blessed to work with a traditional healer from Rosebud reservation who was influential in helping many Native people in Texas find their spiritual path in the right way. Mr. Sandoval lives and practices his Apache traditions in a humble way.
Mr. Sandoval is now a retired Professor of Psychology and Engineering after teaching almost 30 years at Tarrant Co. Jr. College.
Cathy Gutierrez-Gomez, PhD, is a Professor in the College of Education at the University of New Mexico.