Silent auction raises $8K for American Indian students

By D. Shayne Christie
Arizona Daily Wildcat
November 12, 1996

The American Indian Graduate Center raised an estimated $8,000 in a silent auction Sunday to benefit American Indian students.

Although the event fell short of expectations for money raised and public turnout, "It's $8,000 we didn't have otherwise," said Glenn Johnson, director of the American Indian Graduate Center.

The auction was held in the Grand Ballroom of the Doubletree Hotel, 445 S. Alvernon Way, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., and about 85 people turned out for the event.

A silent auction allows participants to place bids on items by writing their bids on a bid sheet next to the artwork. Yesterday's event was mainly a silent auction, with a voice-auction following for the most expensive items.

Charles Geoffrion, associate vice president for research, said there were over 250 items offered for bidding, ranging in price from $5 to $13,000.

The auction featured works from well-known American Indian artists like R.C. Gorman and Edgar Heap of Birds, as well as works from lesser-known regional and national artists.

The auction also featured a number of paintings created by Johnson.

The art for the auction was donated to the Graduate Center either by the artists themselves, or by other donors who owned the artwork, Johnson said.

He also said the donated art is kept by the center if it is not sold, except for items on consignment.

"That becomes material for future auctions," he said.

The Pasqua-Yaqui tribe provided $3,700 of the estimated $4,000 to put on the event.

Tickets for the event were $20 per person, or $30 per couple.

Johnson estimated the total amount of money in the American Indian fund for graduate students after Sunday's auction was $86,000.

Johnson said although the silent auction is the major public fund-raiser, there are other ways the center raises money.

"We do solicitation of funding to all gaming tribes," he said, adding that private auctions and fund-raisers also help to raise money for the fund.

He said there are 138 graduate students in the program, the largest in University of Arizona history. Johnson expressed concern over "federal cuts to funding" despite high enrollment in the program.

"It's just difficult; the problem is we are depending on non-Indian communities because the Indian community is poor," he said of the center's fund-raising efforts.

"The average income is below the poverty level; they (Indians) are the lowest economic group in the country," he said.

Johnson said the interest generated by the fund is collected each spring and awarded to students in the American Indian Graduate Center based on economic need and academic merit.

This fall, $7,400 was awarded, he said, next fall, the fund should generate between $9,000 and $10,000.