http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgIn this 2011 photo, then-Northeastern State University freshman Jasiony Gann unpacks with the help of her mother in Haskell Hall at NSU in Tahlequah, Okla. Gann was one of the first 48 Cherokee Promise Scholarship recipients. The program is set to end in 2020. ARCHIVES
In this 2011 photo, then-Northeastern State University freshman Jasiony Gann unpacks with the help of her mother in Haskell Hall at NSU in Tahlequah, Okla. Gann was one of the first 48 Cherokee Promise Scholarship recipients. The program is set to end in 2020. ARCHIVES

Cherokee Promise Scholarship funded until 2020

BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
Reporter – @cp_bbennett
08/28/2017 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Tribal Councilors on Aug. 15 modified the Cherokee Nation’s budget to fund current Cherokee Promise Scholars through graduation and supplement incoming freshman for the 2017-18 academic year.

The modification moved $250,000 to the tribe’s Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act budget.

“We set money back every year because some grants are matching grants,” Tribal Councilor Janees Taylor said in the Aug. 15 Education Committee meeting. “This funding has come together from funding that (CN) Education (Services) has, from the NAHASDA funding that we can use for this and the matching grants.”

Fifty-one Cherokee Promise scholars will continue to receive $4,600 per semester through graduation as long as they meet eligibility requirements.

Once the last cohort graduates in 2020, the program will end and there are “no immediate future plans” for a replacement, Education Services Executive Director Ron Etheridge said.

Of the 98 freshmen who submitted a Cherokee Promise Scholarship application, 70 will receive $4,600 per semester for fall 2017-18. However, those students are not classified as Cherokee Promise scholars.

After spring 2018, those 70 students will only be eligible for up to $3,000 per semester via the $2,000 CN Undergraduate Scholarship and the $1,000 College Housing Assistance Scholarship.

The other 28 students were not eligible for the Cherokee Promise Scholarship because they don’t live within the tribe’s jurisdiction and weren’t Pell Grant eligible. However, they will receive $2,000 for the 2017-18 academic year with the CN Undergraduate Scholarship.

Confusion surrounding the Cherokee Promise Scholarship began when applicants learned via a letter dated Aug. 2 that the program would no longer fund new scholars “due to a reinterpretation of federal guidelines.” It also informed applicants to apply for other CN scholarships.

Principal Chief Bill John Baker said the funding cuts resulted from several factors, including an internal review and reinterpretation of NAHASDA guidelines.

“That gave us the reason to go to all the programs and re-evaluate where NAHASDA dollars were going so that we could best serve all of the Cherokees under NAHASDA funding,” he said. “Our review showed that maybe that wasn’t a proper use of the funds, and one of the first things I told my executive directors and everybody is, ‘keep me legal.’ It was before my time. It was before any of my Education (Services) folks’ time.”

Attorney General Todd Hembree said the scholarship funding was not illegal, but to be “good stewards” of CN money, tribal administration, Education Services and NAHASDA officials decided to “reprogram” the funds to “find funding that is without question.”

Treasurer Lacey Horn said administration officials were also unaware of the situation and would have had funds to cover freshman applicants if proper time had been given to go through the “legislatively required process of a budget modification request.”

The Cherokee Promise Scholarship program began in 2011, funding eligible freshman who resided within the tribe’s 14-county jurisdiction with a per semester scholarship of $4,600 if they attended Northeastern State University. Rogers State University and Connors State College were added as Cherokee Promise schools later.

To maintain the scholarship, recipients had to keep at least a 2.7 grade point average, complete community service hours and live with their cohort in designated campus housing. Scholars were also given on-site advisement and cultural education through Cherokee language classes and activities.

It is the latter that Jacob Chavez, a Cherokee Promise Scholar and NSU junior, said he was concerned about in light of the program being discontinued.

“I think that it is unfortunate that the program is ending because it provides opportunities for future Cherokee leaders,” he said. “The program is valuable because it helps foster both language and culture for its members. Hopefully, the Cherokee Nation realizes this importance and works to bring a similar program back in the future.”

Echoing those thoughts was 2011 Cherokee Promise Scholar Colten Boston.

“It breaks my heart to hear about the program being cancelled,” he said. “A lot of my success at college and my appreciation of my Cherokee culture came from participating in it, and it saddens me that future students won’t have the same opportunity that I had.”

Etheridge indicated he was “confident” students would still be interested in learning the culture and language in the program’s absence. “Yeah, it hurts a little bit that we’re losing that, but we’re still teaching the language in the 14 counties. I think it’s still being done. It’s just going to be done a different way. We just felt like there was a better way to utilize the funds to educate the masses.”

Throughout the program’s six-year duration, 15 out of 300 students have graduated as Cherokee Promise Scholars, Etheridge said. He said the data was skewed largely because older students did not want to continue living in college housing, as the scholarship requires.

For more information about CN scholarships, visit www.cherokee.org/Services/Education/College-Resources.
About the Author
Brittney Bennett is from Colcord, Oklahoma, and a citizen of the United Keetoowah Band.  She is a 2011 Gates Millennium Scholarship recipient and graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and summa cum laude honors.
 
While in college, Brittney became involved with the Native American Journalists Association and was an inaugural NAJA student fellow in 2014. Continued mentorship from NAJA members and the willingness to give Natives a voice led her to accept a multimedia internship with the Cherokee Phoenix after college.  
 
She left the Cherokee Phoenix in early 2016 before being selected as a Knight-CUNYJ Fellow in New York City later that same year. During the fellowship, she received training from industry professionals with The New York Times and instructors at the City University of New York. As part of the program, she completed a social media internship with USA Today’s editorial department.
 
Now that Brittney has made her way back to the Cherokee Phoenix, she hopes to use the experience gained from her travels to benefit Indian Country and the Cherokee people.
brittney-bennett@cherokee.org • 918-453-5560
Brittney Bennett is from Colcord, Oklahoma, and a citizen of the United Keetoowah Band. She is a 2011 Gates Millennium Scholarship recipient and graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and summa cum laude honors. While in college, Brittney became involved with the Native American Journalists Association and was an inaugural NAJA student fellow in 2014. Continued mentorship from NAJA members and the willingness to give Natives a voice led her to accept a multimedia internship with the Cherokee Phoenix after college. She left the Cherokee Phoenix in early 2016 before being selected as a Knight-CUNYJ Fellow in New York City later that same year. During the fellowship, she received training from industry professionals with The New York Times and instructors at the City University of New York. As part of the program, she completed a social media internship with USA Today’s editorial department. Now that Brittney has made her way back to the Cherokee Phoenix, she hopes to use the experience gained from her travels to benefit Indian Country and the Cherokee people.

Education

BY KENLEA HENSON
Reporter
01/22/2018 12:00 PM
NEW YORK CITY – Cherokee Nation citizen Miriam Reed is in her second year at Columbia University, where she said she’s adjusting well to college life and New York City. The 2016 Tahlequah High School graduate chose Columbia after attending its “Engineering Days.” To pay for her higher learning, she received an annual scholarship of $73,000 for four years from the university and earned the Gates Millennium Scholarship. Receiving the two scholarships not only pay for schooling and books, it also covers living expenses. However, Reed still maintains a part-time job. The transition to a big city and an Ivy League school was “surprisingly” smooth for Reed. She said she was part of an academic success program that introduced students to the campus and classes before their first semester began, which made adjustment easier. “I was homesick at first. You miss trees more than you think you would and just little things that you wouldn’t think would be different,” Reed said. “I was part of a five-week program before classes even got started where there was fewer people, and they really took the time to introduce you to the campus and had crash course over the courses you were going to take before you took them for a grade. So it was a bit easier adjustment than it could have been if I didn’t have that.” Now a sophomore, Reed has declared her major in operational research with hopes of working for a large corporation to understand finance and how businesses work. “I would like to ultimately work for a nonprofit and maybe teach them how to get small businesses running or maybe teach finance classes to local communities,” she said. She also enjoys participating in activities such as the Native American Council, Engineering Without Boarders Club, Society of Women Engineers Club, a sorority and dance team. Being active and networking at Columbia also offered Reed the opportunity to travel this past summer to Morocco in North Africa to teach SAT prep to high school students looking to attend college in the United States. “I got to go to Morocco to work for someone I met through Columbia. So I got to help them with their essays and help them study for the SAT and prepare them for what it’s like, taking any of their questions they had like what college is like in the United States and any misconceptions and really connect with them, which was really exciting,” she said. She said she never expected to have so many opportunities, but she realized networking is important for opportunities. Reed said attending an Ivy League school was intimidating initially, but now it’s home. “I had this preconceived idea that Ivy League schools were terrible and you can’t ever sleep or work, but that wasn’t accurate,” she said. “A lot of people say you’re just a number when you go to a school that big, but I wouldn’t say that’s true at Columbia. I have professors that really care, like if you miss class, they’ll email you and make sure your doing OK. You can still find your place and not be just a passing face. It’s still possible to feel at home.” She said even though being at home and around friends is comfortable, she’s happy she’s attending college outside Oklahoma. “Honestly, it’s been so rewarding, and I have learned a lot about myself, and I appreciate my roots a lot more now that I was able to experience being away from home and being around other people.”
BY STAFF REPORTS
01/18/2018 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH – Beginning this fall, Northeastern State University will increase the number of President’s Leadership Class scholarships awarded to incoming freshmen each year. According to NSU officials, the President's Leadership Class is a unique leadership and scholarship program designed to cultivate the outstanding potential of proven student leaders. Previously offered to about 15 incoming students each fall, the President’s Leadership Class scholarship will be awarded to 20 incoming freshmen in the fall 2018 semester and will increase to 25 over the next two years. The expansion will allow for a more comprehensive scholarship experience for student leaders, officials said. In the fall 2018 semester, incoming members of the President’s Leadership Class will receive more than $5,000 per semester for four years for housing, tuition and foundation support. “The President's Leadership Class is among the very best student aid programs in the state in terms of length (four years) and total value,” NSU President Steve Turner said. “By increasing the number of leadership scholarships over the next two years, we are demonstrating our commitment to meet our state's need for highly skilled college graduates.”? Applicants for the President’s Leadership Class should display outstanding leadership capabilities and must have an exceptionally strong academic record. High school seniors are required to have an ACT composite score of 20 or higher for consideration. Applications are available online at <a href="http://www.scholarships.nsuok.edu" target="_blank">scholarships.nsuok.edu</a>.
BY LINDSEY BARK
Reporter
12/15/2017 08:15 AM
NORMAN, Okla. – The application process for the Native American Journalists Association’s student-training program is open through Jan. 31. The Native American Journalism Fellowship is a student-training program committed to creating the next generation of storytellers through hands-on training in a weeklong immersion experience with professional journalists. “The Native American Journalism Fellowship is NAJA’s flagship program for Native media students. It has evolved over more than 25 years into a hands-on experience and has launched the careers of many successful NAJA members through mentorship, training and professional connections,” Rebecca Landsberry, NAJA executive director, said. College and graduate students will be able to broaden their reporting and multimedia skills by receiving multimedia training, a professional NAJA mentor, skills for job-readiness, connections to media jobs and internships though NAJA’s national network and upper-level college credit hours. Selected students will attend the 2018 National Native Media Conference set for July 16-22 in Miami, Florida, where they will attend regular meetings with a mentor and participate in all planned webinar trainings. Throughout the remainder of the fellowship, students are required to participate in online check-ins and trainings throughout the year, write and edit reporting assignments for inclusion on the NAJA Native Voice website and seek media-focused internships. “All fellows attend our national conference with all expenses paid, covering the event and local community as working journalists. In addition, they get on-site newsroom experience working with some of the best Indigenous media professionals from across the U.S., including other fellows. It’s an immersive experience, and they really get a chance to dig into the nuances of covering Indian Country, ask questions in a safe space and emerge from the experience as better reporters,” Landsberry said. Mentors can also apply to help oversee the fellows in their training. Mentor requirements include being a current NAJA member in good standing; journalism experience in print, broadcast or digital media; and are encouraged to bring any professional equipment to the newsroom experience such as cameras, video equipment, recording gear, etc. Visit <a href="http://www.naja.com" target="_blank">www.naja.com</a> to apply for the student fellowship or mentorship and to renew or become a new NAJA member. Annual memberships dues are $20 for college students and $55 for individual professional members. For more information, email NAJA Education Committee Chairwoman Victoria LaPoe at <a href="mailto: vlapoe@naja.com">vlapoe@naja.com</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
12/13/2017 03:15 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Northeastern State University American Indian Heritage Committee is accepting proposals for individuals interested in presenting at the 46th annual Symposium on the American Indian. Priority consideration will be given to proposals received by Dec. 15. The symposium will be April 16-21 on NSU’s Tahlequah campus. The theme, “Walking with our Ancestors: Preserving Culture and Honoring Tradition,” will provide a space for the Indigenous community to examine American Indian history and reflect on how the collective past influences who American Indians are as Indigenous peoples today. According to a NSU press release, American Indian people are often left out of conversations about minority groups, and many people believe they are only a part of the past not the present nor the future. “On the contrary, American Indians are still here preserving their culture and honoring their traditions by incorporating this knowledge into their present day professional careers,” the release states. “While Indigenous communities may look different, they still managed to maintain their identity and hold fast to their language, sovereignty, and Indigenous ways of living.” Proposals should focus on one of the following: cultural preservation, Indigenous knowledge (multi-disciplinary), history (from an Indigenous perspective), intergenerational/historical trauma (impact, healing, etc.), tribal sovereignty and/or language revitalization. The committee will conduct a blind review of each proposal. The best proposals will articulate a clear objective and purpose as well as importance of the point of view to be expressed. Proposals need to show evidence of scholarly care, clear and effective argument and/or a basis in research. Proposals can be sent to <a href="https://offices.nsuok.edu/centerfortribalstudies/NSUSymposium.aspx" target="_blank">https://offices.nsuok.edu/centerfortribalstudies/NSUSymposium.aspx</a>. The Symposium on the American Indian is a community event. There is no registration fee and events are open to the public. For more information, visit <a href="http://www.cts.nsuok.edu" target="_blank">cts.nsuok.edu</a> and follow the link to the NSU Symposium or email <a href="mailto: tribalstudies@nsuok.edu">tribalstudies@nsuok.edu</a> or call 918-444-4350.
BY KENLEA HENSON
Reporter
12/08/2017 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – On Dec. 2, the Cherokee Language Master Apprentice Program graduated four students at a graduation ceremony in the Armory Municipal Center. Larry Carney, of Tulsa; Ronnie Duncan, of Bell; Lisa O’Field, of Hulbert; and Toney Owens, of Rocky Mountain received a certificate of completion, copper gorget and Pendleton blanket. Operated through the Cherokee Nation’s Community and Cultural Outreach, participants are taught the Cherokee language by master speakers Doris Shell, Cora Flute and Gary Vann. The program is geared towards teaching CN citizens to be proficient conversational Cherokee language speakers and teachers. Howard Paden, CLMAP manager, said the program stemmed from a “need” for the language. “This program gets people speaking our language again. You know, we seen a need for it because a lot of the (Cherokee) Immersion (Charter) School parents seen a need to not only push their kids to learn the language but to learn themselves and start having Cherokee speaking households,” Paden said. Students spend two years and typically 40 hours a week learning the Cherokee language in a classroom from the master speakers. Students are also encouraged to visit with fluent Cherokee-speaking elders to practice and learn from them. However, to ensure individuals are able to dedicate the needed time to the program, they each receive a $10 an hour stipend. “They learn a lot of Cherokee. From when they first walk into the classroom to probably two months they already learn about 5,000 words,” Paden said. “The first year is primarily learning as much as they can, and by the second year we expect them to start teaching. Of course they have a master speaker there that can assist them, but they begin to teach phrases to the next group that comes in. So every January we get a new group, so the people that are in their last year will begin teaching in January to the new group that we have coming in.” Since its inception nearly three years ago, the program has graduated six students and is expected to graduate six more in 2018 and eight in 2019. Gary Vann, CLMAP master speaker, said he’s seen an increase in applicants since the program’s first year. “When we first started out there was only a handful of applicants, this past application process we saw 100 applications come in,” Vann said. “It makes me feel good because there are people out there that still want to learn our language and that are interested in speaking our language again, especially the younger generations.” Owens, 30, said the program has influenced his life and set him on a path of teaching the Cherokee language. “I’ve always wanted to learn Cherokee, and I heard about the program, and I couldn’t believe it was real. Now it kind of comes in to your everyday life you start to think about things different and naturally you start speaking Cherokee instead of English, so it just becomes your life, it becomes a part of who you are,” Owens said. “Since I will no longer be employed by the program I will have to find a form of income, but I will continue to pursue a teaching degree at Northeastern State University to hopefully teach Cherokee. My goal is to one day teach at the immersion school because it has the most chance of forming Cherokee speakers.” Owens said he believes the program has helped him so much to become a proficient speaker that it’s the most effective way to acquire the language. He suggests the program to those who are interested in learning to speak the Cherokee language. For more information, call 918-453-5445.
BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
Reporter – @cp_bbennett
12/07/2017 08:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation Foundation and Northeastern State University’s Native American Support Center hosted a scholarship workshop Nov. 28 for students wanting to get ahead of CNF’s Jan. 31 scholarship deadline. “This is our first (workshop) through the Native American Support Center as far as hosting the Cherokee Nation Foundation, and so we are looking forward to working with them more and bringing them on campus and getting them involved in our program,” Jade Hansen, NASC advisement and career specialist, said. The NASC, part of NSU’s Center for Tribal Studies, provides Native students services such as financial aid information to increase retention and graduation rates. “We really focus these workshops for our new freshmen because a lot of things I’m seeing working here at NSU is that these students are running out of money going into their second year and their third year and their fourth year,” she said. “And so with CNF, it’s pretty much like a hidden gem. It’s getting that information out that a lot of students don’t really know about with the CNF programs.” Hansen said she was a CNF scholarship recipient while attending NSU. “Whenever I was in college I got this scholarship, and not a lot of people knew about it, and it helped out,” she said. “It takes a lot to apply for this scholarship as far as recommendation letters, transcripts and different things like that, but hopefully doing it now will get (students) prepared so they’re not waiting around last minute in January.” Marisa Hambleton, CNF executive assistant, said CNF conducts workshops when an organization or school with a high number of Cherokee students reaches out to it. “We’re more than happy to travel and come out and help those students apply for those scholarships,” she said. “We really try to reach any schools that really show an interest. We don’t have a specific (process) where we set it up and anything like that yet. With the more scholarships that we receive, we try to market that as best that we can.” Hambleton said CNF scholarships are not income-based, and students who participate in the workshops should come prepared with updated transcripts and their CN citizenship cards. The CNF scholarship application is a two-step process. Students must first visit <a href="http://www.cherokeenation.academicworks.com" target="_blank">www.cherokeenation.academicworks.com</a> and complete the general applications, which matches them to individual scholarships for which they are eligible to apply. “The general application is just basic information, their name, their address, what school they’re interested, what field of study,” Hambleton said. “That information is then what matches them to specific scholarships, and then they apply for those scholarships individually.” Hambleton said each scholarship includes at least one essay question and asks students to submit information for a reference questionnaire. “A reference questionnaire is where the student chooses someone who is not a family member, someone that knows them like a teacher or a coach or someone in their community,” Hambleton said. “They’ll put in their email address and their name and it will send a link to a short survey that really asks them to rate the student from one to 10 in different areas.” The Academic Works website also allows students to check if their reference questionnaires have been completed, and if not, students can resend the links or change their references. Hambleton also said a student is not required to complete the application in one sitting. “Our application’s pretty simple, and you can save for later if you need to, so it’s not just a one-time sit down,” she said. “Sometimes you don’t have all the information that you need right then and there, and so it’s easy for students to save and keep editing and then submit at a later date.” CNF scholarship recipients will be notified by the end of the 2018 spring semester. Students needing assistance with the scholarship application or organizations and schools interested in hosting a scholarship workshop should call 918-207-0950.