BLOG POST BY BRIDGET NECONIE, DIRECTOR OF SCHOLARSHIPS – INDIGENOUS EDUCATION INC.
There is something magical and metaphorical about autumn days here in the Land of Enchantment. The lush green trees along the banks of the Rio Grande River transition into brilliant shades of red and yellow before the northern winds begin to blow, brown leaves fall to the ground; and, soon all the branches will become bare. Nature’s beauty marks the dusk of the long days of summer fun and the dawn of the harvest season. Autumn sits on the horizon of what was and the rising of what is to be. The natural world is a circular gift that keeps giving, for that, this season we are thankful.
Cobell Scholars and Native students in general are entering and continuing college across the nation in increasing numbers. This means that the quality of education of non-natives is broadening, becoming more inclusive, and by some accounts getting better. The fall term is in full swing with mid-terms, preparation for finals and lots of papers to write. With student life and engagement activities this November for Native American Heritage Month we acknowledge our indigenous students scattered among hundreds of colleges and universities who are rocking their moccasins, celebrating survival, practicing living cultures, asserting sovereignty and communicating tribal wisdom and knowledge in various ways. Students are making the best of their scholar experience by being present, combining their voices, being visible, and embedding cultural competencies on campuses to share and express what it means to indigenize academia.
At the Pueblo of Acoma, my grandpa was a farmer. All year long he prepared the fields, and grew fruits and vegetables that fed our families. Grandma made her pottery and baked oven bread, often used to trade for other goods. In the field of education, we do the same kind of work. In the spirit of cooperation, we tend to the crops, provide nourishment, monitor growth and yield results. As we gather together with families and friends for holidays we feed our bodies, our minds and spirits with an abundance of food, love and more food; we share our stories around the tables and the fireplaces across Native America. When we give thanks, we remember also to help those in need.
Indigenous Education, Inc. (IEI) is grateful to have completed another trip around the sun of giving and receiving. A lot can happen in a short amount of time. Since IEI’s beginning in 2016 and just one year ago IEI staff proudly witnessed Elouise Cobell posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
IEI’s Executive Director and President, Melvin Monette-Barajas testified for the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and was recently recognized by the American Indian Science and Engineering Society for his leadership, receiving the Nonprofit Partner Service Award. The organization reintroduced the Summer Graduate Fellowship Program. IEI is thankful to have Dr. John L. Garland, PhD, as the inaugural Director of Research and Student Success to lead the fellowship program and other success services.
Fresh from the field, the IEI team of dedicated staff spent the past few months traveling many miles, reaching out across regions planting and sowing indigenous seeds of inclusion, equity and social justice. Staff went to Austin to learn more about the systems used for scholarship applications, to Orlando to tell our creation story, Seattle to network with scholarship providers and to Denver, New York, Minneapolis, Sacramento, San Diego and Racine to strengthen partnerships for students. IEI has watered and tended to the academic garden while harvesting another crop of scholars for the 2017-2018 academic year and applicants will soon begin planting their application seeds for the 2018-2019 academic year. We are growing our own and making a difference across Indian Country in all areas but especially in Native families and communities. We continue to yield new ideas to establish best practices and polish our tools in preparation for the 2018-2019 scholarship application – OASIS opportunities open December 15, 2017.
As IEI prepares to distribute Cobell Scholarship awards for the spring 2018 term, students are reminded to continue building strongholds through networks of support programs and student services designed to elevate and expand scholar talents and skills. Beyond providing scholarships, IE is here to support, provide advice and tips upon request, to assist in making connections on campuses to succeed in all areas of study, and guide to realization the academic potential of Cobell Scholars. With that in mind, IEI provides the scholarship community with educational content in a variety of topics, formats, and social platforms on such as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), Financial Aid Literacy and Practical Life Skills using the WhichWayApp, Graduate Test Preparation, using the Online Application Student Information System (OASIS), and Student Health and Wellness Series. Our goal is to inspire, transform and turn dreams into reality!
IEI, specifically created and designed by Natives to help Native students, is here to help scholars to live beyond the call of our nations. We cannot express enough how proud we are to work alongside the scholarship community another year. We continue to be amazed by the growth, the many accomplishments, incredible resilience, persistence and survival skills that elevate and advance each individual toward higher education aspirations.
To learn more about Eloise Cobell and the Cobell Settlement visit our links, visit our website and our social media pages. Scholars check your email to renew your award and for notifications of open opportunities. Do not hesitate to contact me directly or a member of the Indigenous Education, Inc. team to ask questions.
Daa waa ee (Thank You)
Director of Scholarships