In May, five young scholars from across the nation were named the winners of the Young Native Writers Essay Contest. On July 21, 2014 the authors of the winning compositions flew into Washington, D.C. to celebrate their accomplishments during an all-expense paid Scholar Week, sponsored by the National Indian Education Association (NIEA), the Holland & Knight Charitable Foundation Inc., and the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI).
The contest prompted Native high school students to compose an essay describing one or more cultural images, symbols, or art forms historically and culturally significant in their communities. More than 100 students responded with the winning essays written by the following young scholars:
Elizabeth Guerino, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma
Lindsey Hancock, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma
Womsikuk James, Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) & Lakota
Tristan Picotte, Cheyenne River Sioux
NIEA President Pamela Agoyo commended the young writers by saying: “The Young Native Writers Essay Contest encourages critical thinking about Native heritage and allows students the opportunity to showcase their talents. NIEA is honored to sponsor an effort that celebrates the unique cultures and abilities of our Native students from across the country.”
Elizabeth, Lindsey, Womsikuk, and Tristan arrived in Washington, D.C. on Monday, July 21, 2014 to celebrate their accomplishments during the three-day scholar week. The students were also honored at a ceremony at NMAI, which hosts the world’s largest and most diverse collection of Native American arts and artifacts. In addition to the ceremony at NMAI and the celebratory scholar week, the students’ accomplishments will be recognized through a $2,500 scholarship to be paid to the college or university of their choice.