AIS Provides COVID Relief On the Navajo Nation

AIS COVID Relief

AIS Provides COVID Relief On the Navajo Nation

COVID-19 Hits the Navajo Nation

COVID-19 was comparatively slow to come to the Navajo Nation. The first case was recorded over two months after the virus first appeared in the United States. But after it arrived the disease traveled with the speed and destruction of a forest fire. On May 27th it was announced that the Navajo Nation had surpassed New York to become the area with the highest per-capita infection rate in the U.S. The rapidity of the spread and the high rate of death were due mainly to a lack of infrastructure in this remote part of the country. There are also high rates of pre-existing conditions among citizens and lack of access to healthcare. About 40% of homes lack the running water necessary to follow the basic guidelines set forth by the CDC, and many homes are multigenerational. Both are factors that are believed to contribute to spread.

Curfews Contain Spread but Contribute to Difficulty

To combat the rising total of cases, this great nation initiated a mandatory weekend curfew. It was initially active for 8 weeks and has been recently reinstated due to a sharp increase in cases. Residents are required to stay at home starting Friday evening through Monday morning. There is also a strict weekday curfew between 8pm and 5am.

Many living within the Navajo Nation are hours away from the closest grocery store, something most people take for granted. We have been informed that cleaning supplies are nearly impossible to find at grocery stores on the reservation. This means that people have to travel even farther to find what they need in order to keep their families safe. These curfews and long distance to stores have made it extremely difficult for citizens to get supplies. It is especially difficult for elders who are dependent on family to get essentials. And for the households in quarantine – which number in the hundreds on any given day – getting what they need is made that much harder.

The reports we are hearing from those living on the Navajo Nation are dire. In a community where 1 in 3 children live in poverty, many children depend on school attendance in order to receive regular meals. As schools have been shut down for months, the food insecurity of low income families on the reservation has only deepened. Many low income children are only getting 1 meal a day. Many workers are losing their jobs after being exposed and going into quarantine, or as a result of the recession. Elders who live on roads only accessible by four wheel drive are close to starving because they aren’t able to get supplies.

AIS Provides

Our main focus at AIS is providing educational scholarships and programs to Native American students. However, we often create special projects to meet the needs of our constituents. Due to the extreme challenges the Navajo Nation is facing, we opened up a project to provide food and supplies. On May 4th, 6th and 7th four semitruck trailers delivered 160,000 pounds of nonperishable goods to a meeting house. With the help of 45 missionaries from The Church of Jesus of Latter Day Saints, Tribal Agencies, and surrounding communities, the goods were unloaded and divided into approximately 1,200 family boxes.

Each of these family boxes had enough provisions to provide for a family of 5 for four weeks. Once the boxes were ready, they were loaded into volunteer’s trucks and taken to cities throughout the Navajo Nation. These cities included Kayenta-New Mexico, Chinle-Arizona, Fort Defiance-Arizona, Tuba City-Arizona, and Monument Valley-Utah. Our goal was for the boxes to be delivered to the families most in need of them. We have made more deliveries since then, and will continue to provide supplies as the crisis persists.

How You Can Help

To help us in these efforts, please consider sponsoring a family box to be delivered this month by donating here. $15 will feed an individual for 1 week. $50 will feed an individual for 4 weeks. $250 will feed a family of 5 for a month. We appreciate your support as we work to provide relief to our constituents.

 

 

 

April 2020 Newsletter Student Highlights

Jade Goodwill
Navajo, Hunkpapa Lakota, and Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota
Science, Technology, and Society – Stanford

Jade comes from Window Rock, Arizona, and is minoring in Medical Anthropology on the Pre-Med track. She is the Co-Chair for the Stanford Powwow and is the Vice President of the Stanford AISES Chapter. Jade is also a research assistant in the OB/GYN Department at the Stanford Hospital under the Winn Research Lab. Recently she did a service trip to Nepal and is a trained EMT. After she obtains her OBGYN or Family Medicine license, Jade wants to go back and work on Native reservations in order to help her community.

Andrew Cayaditto
Navajo
Biology – University of New Mexico

Andrew grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico and is minoring in sociology and chemistry. He maintains a high GPA and is on the Dean’s List. He is pursuing a biology degree with the hopes of applying to and entering medical school sometime in the near future in order study and practice neurosurgery. He knows this is a lofty goal because so few Native Americans attend medical school, but he is confident that his academic abilities and work ethic will carry him toward his goal, as are we.

Life In the Wake of a Pandemic – Shandiin’s Story

I’m a student here at Brigham Young University Hawaii. This was my last semester and on April 18th, I finally graduated with my Business Management – Finance Bachelor’s.

In the middle of the semester classes were canceled on campus. The following week we resumed with all of our classes being online. For myself it was it was extremely hard to focus on assignments the rest of that week. BYU Hawaii was one of the first colleges to cancel classes and cancel graduation in the same day. My family had already planned to fly out to Hawaii to celebrate my graduation. It was extremely hard for me to continue to stay focused in my last semester. I was able to get through it and finish out this past semester strong.

But it’s been difficult not to worry about my family. All I can do is watch from afar. Even if I could go home, I wouldn’t be able to visit them because they have a lot of underlying health conditions or they are much older. Distancing right now is really important so that our people are not spreading the virus. Many are being sent to the hospital and others lose their lives. There is not a day that goes by when I don’t think of my family and when I can see them again.

Also being here at BYU Hawaii, I was seeing how it was affecting students from so many other countries. I had a lot of friends who had to leave within a week to get home to their countries before they closed. Many of them didn’t make it home because their countries had already closed for entry. It was affecting their ability to be able to finish school at the same time. Many are stuck here still in Hawaii until further notice.

Looking back on this last semester, if I did not receive the American Indian services scholarship it would have been hard for me to sustain myself till the end of the semester. This one scholarship was able to give me peace of mind that I would have a roof over my head until graduation. I think that it is important to know that this scholarship program has helped me this semester. That going into the next semester I want others to continue on with their education and graduate from college. It is the best feeling knowing that you accomplished your goals and nothing can stand in the way of our educational pursuits.

– Shandiin White, Navajo

 

 

An influx of students need funding, AIS is providing it

In times of crisis, the vulnerable are always the hardest hit. Unfortunately, the remote parts of our country where many Native Americans live aren’t immune to the reach of COVID-19. As of this writing on April 20th, the Navajo Nation has an infection rate per capita that is higher than all but 2 U.S. states. Tribal elders, who serve as community knowledge keepers, are more likely to die of the virus because of high rates of heart disease and diabetes among elderly Native Americans. Only 51.3% of Native American households have health insurance, and on remote tribal lands adequate health care is hard to find. On some reservations it’s estimated that only 40% of homes have running water, making the necessary hygiene to combat the virus difficult.

This is a bleak picture but the Native people are doing everything they can to protect their communities. The Lummi Tribe acted quickly and opened up a pioneering field hospital to help treat the sick in their area, and they called for social distancing measures well before the rest of the nation. The Navajo Nation has ordered rapid test kits to help contain the virus. The Yurok Tribe created an Incident Command Team to navigate the needs of their people. Many tribes declared a state of emergency early on in order to secure funding and prepare their healthcare facilities, and health clinics have devoted extra resources to COVID-19 patients.

Most helpful of all, the tribes negotiated $10 billion in aid from the CARES stimulus package, $8 billion of which will go toward reimbursing tribes for coronavirus expenses already incurred. The remainder will go toward better equipping tribal health services, improving emergency response times on tribal lands, providing economic relief for tribal members, and food delivery to the elderly and low-income families. But this leaves our scholarship recipients who are facing unique challenges to navigate the social effects of this virus themselves.

Universities have closed campuses and moved their courses online. Many students have been forced out of their dorms, where computers and high speed internet access were readily available, to go back to their family homes on remote tribal lands where 47% of homes lack these essential resources to finish their courses. This means that students who can’t afford to buy a computer and an internet connection will have to either attempt to complete their coursework on their smart phones, or drop out.

In order to prevent students from dropping out and to address the larger than usual amount of applications we are receiving, we have extended our spring and summer scholarship deadlines to May 1st. When students have tuition funding it frees them up to purchase necessary things like books and computers in order to be successful in their studies – not to mention the basics like food, clothing, and housing. American Indian Services is well situated to weather this storm and we will do everything in our power to continue providing this aid to Native American students.

We have been able to transition our office staff to working from home without any interruption in our scholarship distribution schedule. Our gala gave us a highly successful start to our fundraising this year. We raised $880,362, which is 31% of our scholarship program’s expenses for the year, and we have secured several other grants and donations. This means that the scholarship program will be able to stay robust in the face of these trying times. We are resilient and we will continue to adapt as needed. You can count on us to keep serving Native Americans at a time when they need us most.

 

 

 

Student Highlight April 2020

Being born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico and participating in my Pueblo traditions in Cochiti, New Mexico, I am thankful that I am apart of these two very distinct communities. I am pursuing an education that will create positive change in both communities. As an American Indian, I am a part of the Pueblo of Cochiti, Pueblo of Jemez, and Diné. As a first-generation student I call the University of New Mexico my home in earning a Bachelor of Science in Population Health and a minor in Psychology. I am proud to be a part of the 2nd of its kind, College of Population Health in the United States.

I first became interested in Population Health my sophomore year of college when I discovered that a majority of healthcare is reactive, and I wanted to learn how to take a more proactive approach to prevent illnesses and diseases. Population Health consists of the multidisciplinary study of health, illness, and disability. We learn about the societal, behavioral, and organizational causes of health and disease and explore the ways to reduce health disparities. In my classes I examine policies, health systems, and public health practices that can curb health risks in communities and large populations.

My motivations to earn an undergraduate degree in Population Health began with my professional aspirations to better my American Indian community. I intend to conduct research and help develop preventive programs to reduce diabetes with the Albuquerque Area Southwest Tribal Epidemiology Center (AASTEC) as my senior capstone project in the Spring of 2020. After graduation, I plan to attend graduate school to earn an MPH and/or Master of Social Work with an American Indian Concentration. Schools I am interested in applying to are the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis which develops the knowledge and skills to serve Native American communities by understanding the extent, effects, and causes of issues facing Native peoples then evaluating and implementing the best practices with cultural competencies in mind. Other schools I intend on applying to are North Dakota State University with the American Indian Concentration and the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins.

In the future, I am eager to develop a healthcare system that increases the access of healthcare services on Southwestern reservations. According to the Navajo Area Indian Health Service (NAIHS), the department delivers health services to over 244,000 American Indians on the largest Indian reservation in the U.S. The Navajo Nation covers more than 25,000 contiguous square miles where NAIHS has a total of 222 inpatient hospital beds at only four hospitals. The issue of lack of healthcare access for Native Americans has geared me towards an educational plan to pursue a career in public community health. The societal problem I am planning to address is the health disparities of American Indians by first working with the Albuquerque Area Indian Health Board by becoming a project director after I finish my graduate program. Then, I intend pursing a more significant role in regional planning and public service. I believe in advocating and serving disadvantaged Indigenous people using a holistic framework consisting of emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual well-being. Working in public service I would be the voice representing our people on director boards and on large scale government committees.

I am passionate that I will be able to take what I learn in my degree now, capstone project and graduate program in the future, and apply it in regional Indigenous and American Indian communities to reduce health disparities and increase access to healthcare services. I am proud to state that I am a 2019 Udall Scholar for Native American Heath care. I have taken the initiative to prepare for my future educational plans and career goals by taking on two internships currently to begin addressing issues that face American Indians and public health. I am the first intern for the College Horizons Scholars Program to develop student success programming for Native students on campus and help retention rates and set them up for their future and lead them to graduate programs. Secondly, I have become a Future Community Leader for the Center for Social Sustainable Systems Leadership Institute. I have currently taken a proactive role in my community to prepare and execute an action plan aimed at addressing and understanding water, land, health disparities, and social justice issues affecting New Mexican Communities. As part of my project publication I am focusing on legislation and policy development to sustain our local farmers, acequias, and to ensure that water is available to our Pueblos south of Albuquerque.

Receiving financial aid has equipped me to focus on my plans and goals for graduate school and my career which I am eager to begin. I have a focused plan to assist Indigenous communities in the future, and I am determined to reduce health disparities and increase access on reservations while preserving our cultural traditions. This funding is helping provide me the education to support my community and pave the way for me to give back to future generations, so they have the same amazing opportunities as me.

Facts and Figures About the Tribes That AIS Helps

To help you get a sense of the people we serve, we’ve created a list of the top ten tribes who have received the most AIS scholarships so far in 2019, with a brief summary of their histories and cultures. We are only halfway through our 2019 award cycle, so these amounts will nearly double by the end of the cycle.

 

Navajo Nation
799 AIS scholarships distributed
$805,250 – combined award amount
332,129 enrolled members

Navajo is the second largest federally recognized tribe and they have the largest reservation in the country. The reservation straddles the Four Corners region and covers more than 27,000 square miles of land in Arizona, Utah and New Mexico. Navajo is a name given to them by the Spanish, but they’ve always called themselves Diné, or The People.

In an attempt at relocation, the U.S. army forced 2,000 men, women, and children to walk 300 miles to New Mexico, many of whom died either on the way or in the internment camps afterward. The Navajo leader Chief Manuelito led a resistance to the relocation that proved successful and the Navajo were allowed to return to a reduced portion of their homeland. Chief Manuelito was an inspiring leader who strongly believed in education and our Navajo scholarship recipients often cite his quote, “Education is the ladder. Tell our people to take it.”

The Diné society is based primarily upon kinship arising from clan affiliation, and all Navajo have four clans. In the creation myth the original four clans were given to the Navajo by the Changing Woman. Often when our Navajo students introduce themselves they also recite their clans, which is a traditional formal introduction and shows how important this system is to their culture.

 

Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians
57 AIS scholarships distributed
$45,500 – combined award amount
30,000 enrolled members

The Turtle Mountain reservation headquarters is located in Belcourt, North Dakota. The name Chippewa, like many other tribes on this list, was given to them by Europeans. Their autonym is Ojibway. Before the fur trade came to their land and forced the Chippewa to adopt a life of pursuing buffalo on the Great Plains, they were a wood-land oriented people whose main diet subsisted of wild rice. After being forced to sign treaties that left them without land and the fur trade left them without resources, they were finally given two townships in 1892 and an agreement in 1904 that they could create homesteads on any U.S. owned land without charge. Due to multigenerational distress and geographical isolation the Chippewa poverty rate is 44% and the unemployment rate is 69.25%. Despite these dire circumstances the Chippewa have made several strides toward establishing industry on their reservation, including the Turtle Mountain Community College where many of our Chippewa students attend.

The Chippewa use the drum at social and spiritual ceremonies and they believe the drum to be the heart of the people. Their religious beliefs are based on the ethics of the Midewewin, their medicine healers. Members of the Midewewin believe that Mother Earth is a living thing, and that all plants and animals contain a spirit that is part of the Divine Creator. The Chippewa respect and live as one with all life. Respect is a value that they honor.

 

Alaskan Native
45 AIS scholarships distributed
$59,750 – combined award amount
120,000 enrolled members

Alaskan Natives are actually a diverse group of tribes, but they are generally grouped together due to their interactions with the U.S. government occurring in a different historic period than indigenous groups in the colonies. The tribes can be divided into five major groupings: Aleuts, Inupiat, Yuit, Athabascans, and the Tlingit and Haida. While each Alaskan tribe has unique cultures and histories, there are several similarities that they share.

They each developed sophisticated ways to deal with the challenging climate of Alaska. Legends and customs evolved in harmony with the specific part of Alaska where they settled. To survive the harsh climate, a deep awareness and unity with the flora and fauna is a necessity, as is respect and cooperation among their village members.

They are bold hunters and skilled gatherers. When the Russians came to the region they exploited these skills by enslaving the Natives, or by heavily taxing them in the form of furs. Land disputes with the U.S. government continued late into the 20th century. Alaska Natives have small villages rather than large reservations. Their aboriginal hunting and fishing rights have been extinguished, but they are still allowed to harvest whales and other marine mammals, and this hunting continues to be an important part of their cultures.

 

Nooksack Indian Tribe
17 AIS scholarships distributed
$12,750 – combined award amount
1,800 enrolled members

The Nooksack live in the northwest region of Washington state along the Nooksack River. Historically they relied on fishing, hunting, clam digging, and root gathering, and the name Nooksack actually translates to “always bracken fern roots.” The Nooksack were overlooked by the federal government and weren’t given a treaty in time to offer them protection from losing their land to white settlers. In 1971 they were finally granted 1 acre of land to establish a reservation. Since then the tribe’s holdings have expanded to 2,500 acres. The Nooksack territory originally extended from Skagit County into British Columbia.

At the turn of the 20th century, Nooksack and other Native children across the nation were taken from their families to attend boarding schools in order to undergo forced assimilation where they were brutalized and stripped of their cultural identity. To fight this identity loss and preserve their language the Nooksack have established a language reclamation project. Students who participate in the project are immersed in the language and work on special projects where language is a vital aspect. At the end of four years they are fully qualified language teachers with a certificate that is the equivalent of a B.A., and they are then able to teach the language and culture to tribal youth.

 

Three Affiliated Tribes of the Fort Berthold Reservation
16 AIS scholarships distributed
$17,000 – combined award amount
16,457 enrolled members

The Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation compose the Three Affiliated Tribes. The reservation is located on the Missouri River spanning 6 counties in central North Dakota. The reservation is governed by the MHA Nation Tribal Business Council and employs over 1,100 people.

At the height of the historic culture of the Mandan, they were prosperous and peaceful farmers and traders, noted for their excellent maize cultivation and crafting of Knife River flint. The Mandan banded together with the Hidatsa for survival after a smallpox epidemic left the Mandan with only 125 survivors. It is estimated that 90% of the indigenous people of the Americas were killed by European diseases such as smallpox. The Arikara later settled with the Hidatsa and Mandan and the three tribes formed a confederacy. Out of this confederacy homogenous societies evolved and the Three Affiliated Tribes were able to survive.

 

Lummi Tribe
13 AIS scholarships distributed
$10,000 – combined award amount
4,483 enrolled members

The Lummi Nation is located in western Washington only 20 miles south of the Canadian border. They are also known as the Lhaq’temish or People of the Sea. They hunted, fished, and gathered near the sea and mountain areas and returned seasonally to their longhouses situated in Whatcom County and the San Juan Islands. They developed a fishing technique known as reef netting, and it is recognized by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife as the best technique for selective fishing.

Tribes in this region held gift-giving feasts called potlatches. The Canadian government rigorously banned the events and the tradition fell out of practice. In 2007 the Lummi revived the tradition and hosted their first potlatch since the 1930’s. 68 families paddled hand-made canoes to the reservation from different parts of the state as part of the celebration.

 

Hopi Tribe
12 AIS scholarships distributed
$15,000 – combined award amount
19,338 enrolled members

The Hopi reservation is located in northeastern Arizona. The Hopi are known for their constructions of large apartment-house complexes and an advanced culture that spanned the present-day Four Corners region. It is one of the oldest living cultures in the world, beginning in approximately 500 CE.

The name Hopi is short for Hopituh Shi-nu-mu, which translates to Peaceful Little Ones. The Hopi religion is very complex, with a highly developed belief system that continues to guide much of their life. Hopi is a concept, and to be Hopi is to strive toward total reverence, respect, and peace toward all things. The Hopi observe their traditional ceremonies for the benefit of the entire world. Perhaps the widest known aspect of the religion is kachina dolls, which are a representation of the Katsina guardian spirits, and are given to the daughters of the village during ceremonies. The Katsina act as intermediaries between the spirit world and the people.

 

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
11 AIS scholarships distributed
$10,500 – combined award amount
15,568 enrolled members

The Standing Rock Reservation is located in the Dakotas, and is the 6th largest reservation at 3,571.9 square miles. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is part of what was once known as the Great Sioux Nation. Their original treaty included the Black Hills, which were sacred to them. But when General Custer found gold there, the government wanted to buy back or rent the hills. The Sioux refused and the Great Sioux War began, which included the Battle of Little Bighorn. Eventually the U.S. won and they took the hills from the Sioux in violation of their treaty. A further violation came when they again reduced Sioux land and divided it into smaller groups. The Sioux were forced to farm rather than continue their nomadic horse culture. Farming proved difficult in that region and the people faced starvation. Their difficulties continue today, with one of the highest rates of poverty and unemployment in the country.

 

White Mountain Apache Tribe
10 AIS scholarships distributed
$10,000 – combined award amount
15,000 enrolled members

The tribe is located in eastern Arizona, 194 miles north of Phoenix, where they have lived for thousands of years. They believe they belong to the Earth and that their home was given to them by their Creator. The elevation of their reservation starts at about 2,600’ above sea level on the southwest side, and ranges all the way up to 11,400’ on the peak of Mt. Baldy on the eastern border. It is considered their most sacred mountain, and there are clear views of it from the Sunrise Ski Resort, which is owned and operated by the White Mountain Apache. They were originally nomadic but eventually became farmers. When the U.S. army first came to their chief’s village they hoisted white flags from every home and immediately fed corn to the soldier’s horses and warmly welcomed the men. This welcome, as well as an agreement to allow the army to build a military post on their uniquely beautiful land, assured peace during a time when the U.S. was in conflict with other Apache nations.

 

Cherokee Nation
9 AIS scholarships distributed
$12,750 – combined award amount
370,000 enrolled members

The Cherokee Nation is the largest of three federally recognized Cherokee tribes, and is the largest tribe in the U.S. It is located in Oklahoma and employs over 11,000 people. The Cherokee originally lived in the Appalachian Mountains, Georgia, Tennessee, and the Carolinas. At the time of European colonization they were one of the largest politically integrated tribes in America. Between 1800 and 1830 the Cherokee made rapid strides toward assimilation. They created a syllabary which helped almost the entire tribe to become literate, and they adopted colonial methods of farming and home building. But due to gold being found in Georgia and a general desire for expansion, agitation to remove the tribe increased. In the winter of 1838 16,000 members of the tribe were forced at gunpoint to march 1,000 miles on foot to Oklahoma. One quarter of them died on the way. This trek is known as The Trial of Tears.

Much of the Cherokee spiritual and ceremonial practices are kept private, but local communities strive to keep their cultural practices alive today.

 

Native Americans are a beautifully diverse group, and this is just a small sampling of the over 300 tribes that we serve. Our goal is to help as many Native American students as we can, and we are working daily to spread the word about our programs. To help us expand our reach please find us on Facebook and share our page with your followers.

 

Sources:

https://www.wikipedia.com

https://www.aaanativearts.com/turtle-mountain-band-of-chippewa-indians-index

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VYAd9KuScoc

https://www.pbs.org/harriman/1899/native.html

https://www.aaanativearts.com/alaska-indian-reservations

https://www.travelalaska.com/Media-Center/Featured-Copy/Alaskan-Native-Culture.aspx

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nooksack_language

https://nooksacktribe.org/about/

https://www.mhanation.com/

https://www.history.com/news/colonists-native-americans-smallpox-blankets

https://study.com/academy/lesson/hopi-indian-tribe-facts-history-culture.html

http://www.msnbc.com/interactives/geography-of-poverty/nw.html

https://whitemountainapache.org/culture/

https://www.cherokee.org/about-the-nation/history/

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Cherokee-people

 

 

November 2019 Student Highlight

Despite serving over 300 tribes all across the country, the vast majority of the applications we get are from Navajo students, and we never tire of reading their bios. We feel honored when they introduce themselves to us in Diné and recite their clans, giving us a beautiful glimpse into their culture. Our November Student Highlight is an incredibly resilient Navajo woman and we feel so proud to serve her as she works to lift herself up through education.

Yá’át’ééh,

Shí éí Bridgett Abeyta yinishyé. Kinłichíí’nii nishłį́, Taneeszahnii bashishchiin, Mą ’íí deeshgíízhíníí dashicheii, Naakai dashinalí. Ákót’éego diné asdzáán nishłį́. Colorado Springs kééhasht’į́. Canyon Diablo déé’ naashá.

Hello,

My name is Bridgett Abeyta. I am of the Red House Clan, born for the Tangle Clan. The Coyote Pass Clan are my maternal grandfathers and Mexican are my paternal grandfathers. That is what makes me a Navajo woman. Colorado Springs is where I reside. Canyon Diablo is where I am from.

I am originally from the Navajo Nation in Arizona, where I attended boarding school as a child. I dropped out of high school and received my GED in the spring of 2004, one month after having my first child. After my brother was KIA in Iraq while serving for the Army I went through a prolonged depression. I lost custody of my children and found myself homeless. During this time, I also lost my mother. I was in a terrible situation, but I kept hearing my grandparent’s words coming back to me. They would reiterate the importance of education. They emphasized that it was the only way to a better life.

In the spring of 2017, I enrolled in classes at Pikes Peak Community College. I was still homeless and living out of my car, but I was more determined than ever. I proved my determination when I made the President’s list that same semester. I had a cumulative GPA of 3.75 and completed 60 credits before transferring to the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs in the Fall of 2019. My goal is to obtain a Bachelor of Arts degree and graduate with honors. Another goal is to apply for law school. I would like to study Indigenous Law. My personal experience with the lack of application is what interested me. I am also considering adding a business minor to my Psychology major. I was also recently elected as the secretary for the Psi Chi Honor Society, a leadership opportunity I’m excited to partake in.

This scholarship will help me overcome some of the financial burden of tuition, textbooks, and housing. By ensuring that my education is financially secure, I will be able to focus on maintaining a high GPA. This scholarship will also allow me to take advantage of the leadership opportunity as the Psi Chi Honor Society secretary. As a non-traditional student, I understand that I must work twice as hard for the same academic success as my peers. The challenges that I’ve had to overcome have left me with an unwavering sense of resilience and determination.

Ahéhee,

Thank You,

Bridgett Abeyta

 

American Indian Services Scholarship Recipient Eric Woody

October Student Highlight – Eric Woody

American Indian Services Scholarship Recipient Eric Woody

Hello, my family and people, my name is Eric Woody. I am an enrolled tribal member of the Navajo Nation. My clans are Within His Cover and born for Red Streaked Temple Area of the Face clan. My maternal grandfather is of the Water Flow Together clan and my paternal grandfather is of the Charcoal Streaked Division of the Red Running into the Water (Zuni Pueblo) clan. I currently reside in a small community known as Kirtland, New Mexico located near the Navajo Nation border.

As of now, I am currently a third-year student at Arizona State University (ASU) located on the Downtown Phoenix campus. I chose to attend ASU because of the endless opportunities it has to offer for Native Americans students. I believe that my purpose at Arizona State University is to empower native students to pursue a higher education. Not many individuals in my community attend college. As a result they often take up a lifestyle that includes drugs, alcohol, and/or crime. I look up to the individuals in my community who have obtained a college degree. Their dedication and hard work have motivated me to serve as a role model for the future generations to come.

My current field of study is community health in the Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation (CONHI). I am pursuing this degree in hopes of being accepted into the nursing program. After receiving my degree, I plan to return to the Navajo Nation and give back to my community. I hope to work at the Northern Navajo Medical Center as a registered nurse or a similar occupation.

I came to this conclusion of possibly working for Indian Health Services (IHS) shortly after volunteering at Northern Navajo Medical Center. During my time of volunteering I noticed a shortage of physicians, specifically Native American individuals. In result, there was a cultural barrier between patients and workers. I hope to alleviate this barrier by helping to serve my own people. I will continue to volunteer at the Phoenix Indian Medical Center, so I could further my journey of accomplishing my goals.

To reach my goals, I need as much help as possible. I already have the moral support of my family and friends, but that is not quite enough to make my dreams come true. Receiving the American Indian Services scholarship is the extra help I need to accomplish my dreams.

Sincerely,

Eric H. Woody