Fourteen Native American youth stood, some shy, some outgoing, to receive the handshakes and hugs of a proud community, including some 500 attendees of the 8th Annual American Indian Scholars Gala presented by the Rocky Mountain Indian Chamber of Commerce (RMICC) November 10 in Denver.
“Warriors: On the Field and in the Classroom,” the event’s theme, was carried out through $21,000 in scholarships from the Colorado Indian Education Foundation (CIEF), Denver Museum of Nature and Science (DMNS), and individual contributions from RMICC members.
The event, held during Native American Heritage Month and on the eve of Veterans Day, included an honoring for Native Americans veterans, concluding with a presentation of ceremonial arrows and a Native flute rendition of “Amazing Grace.”
Dee St. Cyr, Hoonch Henuk-ga (Bear Woman), Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, RMICC chairwoman, and Josh Running Wolf, Blackfeet Tribe, RMICC president, welcomed those who attended, some from out of state.
Colorado Lt. Gov. Joseph Garcia, keynote speaker, is executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education and chairman of the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs. He told scholarship recipients that they should “demonstrate (they) are worthy of that support” to people who had believed in them.
Students awarded scholarships were presented with Pendleton blankets and honored with a song.
Those who received $2,000 scholarships from CIEF included Sarah Hernandez, Rosebud Sioux Tribe, who accepted the Ernest House Sr. Memorial Scholarship, initiated in honor of the former Ute Mountain Ute tribal chairman who died in an accident November 5. Hernandez is a fourth-year Ph.D. student in English at the University of Colorado Boulder (CU-Boulder) who said the scholarship will help her achieve her future plans to teach and conduct research at a tribal college.
Other CIEF recipients, all at the University of Colorado-Denver Anschutz Medical Campus were Ursula Running Bear, Rosebud Sioux Tribe, a Ph.D. candidate in the clinical science program, who plans to continue her work with Natives on completion of the graduate program; Crystal LoudHawk, Navajo, from Sanostee, New Mexico, who is a Ph.D. student and senior professional research associate/community liaison who plans to conduct research to benefit Natives; and Amanda Skenadore, Navajo, from Chinle, Arizona, in her first year of graduate study, who plans to use her master’s degree in Native American health promotion/disease prevention.
Also a recipient of a $2,000 CIEF award was Daniel Cordalis, Navajo, from Durango, Colorado, who is finishing law school and working on a Ph.D. in environmental studies at CU-Boulder focusing on Indian law and natural resources/public lands law.
DMNS awarded $2,000 scholarships to Evan Bekes, Navajo from Bloomfield, New Mexico, a freshman at the University of Northern Colorado, who plans to become an athletic trainer or physical therapist; and Brooke Sanders, Navajo/Oglala Sioux, from Boulder, who plans to become a sports writer after majoring at CU-Boulder in kinesiology or journalism.
Among recipients of $1,000 scholarships from RMICC members were the following students, shown with donors of their scholarships: Amanda Jordan Campbell, a third-year student at the CU-Denver School of Dental Medicine, who is helping initiate the first Colorado chapter of an organization aiding minority and underserved communities—Donor: Tocabe an American Indian Eatery; Anthony Pino Nicholson, Navajo/Mescalero Apache, a junior in mechanical engineering and mathematics at Colorado State University (CSU), who plans to work in solar renewable energy—Donor: Holly Arnold Kinney; Kyle McIntosh, Choctaw, a senior in mechanical engineering at CU-Colorado Springs, who works as a manufacturing engineering technician—Donor: Wells Fargo.
Other RMICC members’ $1,000 awards went to Archie Dalton, Ketchikan, Alaska, Tsimshian Tribe, who is attending CU-Denver and working toward a degree in computer animation—Donor: Asmadi; Veronica Rayne Lane, Navajo, Tohlakai, New Mexico, pursuing an MBA at Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver in finance, and hoping to work with the Bureau of Indian Affairs—Donor: A Resource; and Raymond Foxworth, Navajo, Tuba City, Arizona, a Ph.D. student in political science, CU-Boulder, who would like to work at a college or university—Donor: Rick and Sally Williams; and Nicole Kenote, Menominee Nation member, Littleton, Colorado, a senior in biomedical science and in the Honors Program at CSU—Donor: Mike Kehoe.
Jerry Grilly, president and CEO of the Denver Post, was selected for the RMICC Board Award for the Post’s support of RMICC and its scholarship program. St. Cyr said he is the first non-Native to receive the award. The award “exemplifies traditional Native values of respect, honesty, reciprocity and humility,” St. Cyr said.