American Indian College Fund Annual Flame of Hope Fundraising Gala Raises More than $400,000 to Benefit Native Education

American Indian College Fund Annual Flame of Hope Fundraising Gala
Raises More than $400,000 to Benefit Native Education


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The American Indian College Fund is projected to raise $550,000 support Native student scholarships at its 18th annual Flame of Hope Gala, held on October 10 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Proceeds will benefit Native education.

Native artist Steven Paul Judd (Kiowa/Choctaw) created a painting live at the event, which was awarded to the donor providing the largest gift. The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Tribe took the painting for their donation of $50,000. A silent auction including art by the nation’s top Native artists, and entertainment by Native musicians, including classical guitarist Gabriel Ayala and the dance and music group Brulé, were featured. Haskell Indian Nations University alumnus Dominic Clichee spoke during the program.

The American Indian College Fund honored the Northwest Area Foundation of Minneapolis for funding a $1 million, one-year Tribal College Leaders in Community Innovation Award, providing financial assistance for tribal college programs impacting local communities at Leech Lake Tribal College in Minnesota; Sitting Bull College in North Dakota; Oglala Lakota College in South Dakota; Stone Child College in Montana; and Northwest Indian College in Washington State.

We thank the 37 individual, corporate, foundation, and tribal nation sponsors that made this year’s Flame of Hope Gala a tremendous success. Flame of Hope Sponsor: USA Funds. Keeper of the Flame Sponsor: Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community of Minnesota. Vision of Hope Sponsors: The CocaCola Company, Comcast NBC Universal , Lannan Foundation, Nissan North America, San Manuel Band of Mission Indians. Circle of Hope Sponsors: Anheuser-Busch Companies, AT&T, The Richard Black Family: Richard, Heather, Kara, and Erica, Ford Motor Company Fund & Community Services; McDonald’s Corporation, Target Corporation, Travelers, UPS Foundation, US Bank, Walmart Foundation, Wieden + Kennedy. Spirit of Giving Sponsors: CBS Corporation, FedEx, Grotto Foundation, Jenzabar, Mattel, Peskoff Foundation, The Tierney Family Foundation, United Health Foundation. Visionary Sponsors: Amergent, Kimberly S. Blanchard, Dine College, Kauffman and Associates, Inc., Leech Lake Tribal College, National Indian Gaming Association, MAG Mechanical. Ignite the Flame Sponsors: Aramark, Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College, College of the Muscogee Nation, Northwest Indian College.

Our Partners:

Thank You to Our 2013 Flame of Hope Gala Silent Auction Contributors:

  • Timothy H. Terry (Akimel O’Odham)
  • Cara Romero (Chemehuevi Indian Tribe)
  • Judy Gould
  • Fairmont Hotels & Resorts
  • Bobby Bales (Taos Pueblo)
  • Andrew and Gladys Pacheco (Santo Domingo Pueblo)
  • Daniel B. Ramirez (Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe)
  • Waya’ aisiwa Gary Keene (Acoma Pueblo)
  • David Gary Suazo (Taos Pueblo)
  • Than Povi Fine Art Gallery
  • Geraldine Tso (Navajo)
  • Todd Lone Dog Bordeaux (Sicangu Lakota Tribe)
  • C.J. Shije (Zia/Acoma Pueblo)
  • Lou Thoumann
  • >>see more


College of Menominee Nation Big Day in Pre-K

College of Menominee Nation’s (CMN) Sacred Little One’s project hosts an early childhood teacher institute on their campus in the Community Technology Center. Twenty-two lead teachers from the Menominee Nation’s Head Start programs are spending a day with a Scholastic trainer to be introduced to their new pre-K curriculum, Big Day in Pre-K. The Scholastic Big Day in Pre-K curriculum – a literacy based program – was selected by the Menominee Nation’s Head Start policy council with input from families and CMN faculty. Early childhood education faculty from CMN will work closely with the Menominee Nation’s Head Start to implement the Big Day in Pre-K curriculum. The second day of the teacher institute will focus on integrating the recently developed literacy book kits (developed by CMN early childhood students), with the goal of infusing Menominee culture and language into early childhood education instruction and align cultural curriculum with the scientifically-based chosen curriculum, Big Day in Pre-K.

Sacred Little Ones program event brings tribal educators to Lummi

By Shelley Macy, NWIC Early Childhood Education Director

On June 7, Lummi elders and community leaders, along with the Northwest Indian College Early Childhood Wakanyeja Sacred Little Ones (WSLO) program, welcomed WSLO teams from the College of the Menominee Nation (CMN-Wisconsin), Ilisagvik College (IC-Alaska), and Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI-New Mexico) to the annual WSLO convening at the Silver Reef Casino.

All four colleges receive support funds from the American Indian College Fund’s “Wakanyeja ‘Sacred Little Ones’ –Tribal College Readiness and Success by Third Grade Initiative.”  The Wakanyeja project is generously funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The purpose of the project is to create innovative, tribally-based activities and solutions that improve early childhood education and empower families and communities to create better education for their children.

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THE HONOR IN AN HONORARY DEGREE -­‐-­‐-­‐ By Hattie Kauffman

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On June 15, 2013 Eastern Washington University presented me with an Honorary Doctorate. Yes, we all know that honorary degrees aren’t the same as real ones. I didn’t spend years in a PHD program or sweat over a dissertation. Yet when the honor came … I felt an immense relief, as if someone had just pulled a sliver from the bottom of my foot. I could finally stand upright. You see, decades ago I had dropped out of a graduate program and it had always haunted me, no matter how successful I became in my career as a network news correspondent. In the 1970’s, I was a young married mom of two attending the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of Minnesota. My then husband and I had married as teenagers. Young and foolish, we made many mistakes and when the marriage ended, I thought, “I can’t stay in school. I need to get a job to support these kids.” Recalling those days, I can’t help but applaud the many Native college students who today juggle parenting and term papers. Thirty-­‐four tribal colleges serve more than 30,000 students and according to a recent study, 92% of scholarship recipients in tribal colleges are considered “non-­‐traditional”… meaning they are older than the typical American college student, they have dependents and most of the time they are female. In other words, they sound just like I was back then: a mom with kids to support. I take my hat off to you students!EWU Commencement 2013-135.jpg
(My tasseled hat, which came with the honorary degree.) Your determination will make a straighter path for your children. I know that to be absolutely true. Because, abbreviated though it was, the journalism program gave me the skills that made me a reporter; and from there,  an anchorwoman; and from there, a network news correspondent. They were all building  blocks. Standing on the podium at Eastern Washington University, I felt the blocks had finally come full circle. There I was at a college commencement, receiving a degree in honor of my life work and at last  I  was able to exhale that old regret about leaving grad school early. It was okay. The sliver pulled out, I stood tall and said, “Thank you.”

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NOTE:  A member of the Nez Perce Tribe, Hattie Kauffman is the first Native American to ever report on a national network broadcast. Her memoir, Falling Into Place, is being released in September.

Sacred Books for Little Ones

Nestled between the Lummi Bay and Bellingham Bay in Northwest Washington State, four tribal college early childhood education programs brought their knowledge together among the thicket of tradition and scenery on the Lummi Indian reservation. The Wakanyeja Early Childhood Education Initiative tribal college grantees of Northwest Indian College, College of Menominee Nation, Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI) and Ilisagvik College gathered last week for their annual Sacred Little Ones convening on the Lummi reservation.

The grantees of this Kellogg-funded initiative joined up to share their experiences at their tribal college sites and expand upon each other’s emergent specialized knowledge and give a report on how their initiatives are impacting not only the young learners, but also the programs, communities and the tribal college students studying alongside in the program. This break-through initiative on how we teach young learners incorporates the cultural aspects of learning while preparing the needs of the students to be more successful in the classroom.  The TCU grantees presented their expertise and conveyed their best practices they have identified in now their third year participating in the program.



Incorporating their curricula to their early learning centers, the team from the College of Menominee Nation presented the 17 original picture storybooks created by the student teachers in one of their courses. These books are comprised of stories about the Menominee, the seasons, animals and other lessons for young children. Then they had the other three groups create their own books during the break-out session. Here are their descriptions of the activity they participated in:

Northwest Indian College
“We did an activity where we choose a Lummi legend, The Crow and the Bear story. The moral of the legend is to not be a copy cat because you might get hurt. Instead of following the assignment (and being a copy cat) to use the Gingerbread Man framework, we did a Lummi legend. We worked together to illustrate the legend for Lummi children.” Sunshine Bob and the Sacred Little Ones team will be submitting their storybook to the Lummi culture commission for approval and feedback before they are distributed for use in early learning centers serving Lummi children and families.

Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute

The SIPI team discussed the complexities of integrating tribal language into literary text.  The team would like to respect local tribal values regarding sharing language in text.  The SIPI team would like to develop books with the collaboration of local community.

Ilisagvik College

During the Saturday session, the CMN team presented a workshop on making storybooks that we can use with our young children in our Learning Environment. It was an abbreviated hands-on practice to give an overview of the process. The team  feels it is easier to go back home and produce its own. The team realized that this doable and it has the resources and the basic skills. to produce fun, culturally relevant classroom material.

Tarajean Yazzie-Mintz, the Program Officer for the Kellogg-funded initiative from the American Indian College Fund describes the TCU programs and their best practices as exemplary models “driving the early childhood conversation from the Native [American] lens.”

For their participation in the activity, some freshly-harvested maple syrup from the Menominee Nation was presented to each cohort by the College of Menominee Nation.

SIPI Early Childhood Student is accepted into the Charles Carl Program at Yale University

Andrea Vicente is from Isleta Pueblo. This is her second year in SIPI’s Early Childhood Education Program.

Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI) is proud to announce that Andrea Vicente, a student in the Early Childhood Education program, has been awarded the opportunity to participate in the Charles Carl Program for Students and Faculty at Yale University’s Child Study Center.  This intensive one-week program will provide participants with a unique introduction to child development and child mental health.  This includes a series of faculty speakers from Yale University who will provide an overview of research and clinical activities conducted at the Child Study Center.  Round trip transportation, lodging, and a stipend for meals are included in this week-long internship.  This program is especially designed for Native American College and University students.  As a partner of the Wakanyeja “Sacred Little Ones” grant initiative, Yale University has provided this opportunity to SIPI’s Early Childhood program (visit to read the press release).

Andrea Vicente is from Isleta Pueblo.  This is her second year in SIPI’s Early Childhood Education Program.  Upon completion of her Associates degree, Andrea plans to continue her education at the University of New Mexico where she plans to study Special Education.  Andrea’s parents, Carol and Patrick Olguin have been very supportive of her endeavors.  Andrea receives much inspiration from her aunt Emelda Chimoni and her grandmother Josephine Lente.  Andrea is heavily involved in her community and is also a member of the Kateri Tekakwitha Circle.  She recently participated in the canonization of Saint Kateri.  Andrea is an excellent example of hard work and dedication.  She successfully balances community involvement with her studies at SIPI.  We are confident that Andrea will contribute greatly to her community in the near future.  Congratulations Andrea!

Andrea Vicente is from Isleta Pueblo.  This is her second year in SIPI’s Early Childhood Education Program.  Upon completion of her Associates degree, Andrea plans to continue her education at the University of New Mexico where she plans to study Special Education. 

American Indian College Fund Hosts an Open House and Opening Night of “Open Identities” a Printmaking Art Exhibition

The American Indian College Fund (the Fund) is hosting an open house, Friday, May 17, 2013, at 8333 Greenwood Blvd., Denver, CO.  The event begins at 5:00 p.m. and ends at 7:00 p.m.  The open house was initially envisioned by Fund President Cheryl Crazy Bull as an opportunity to visit with the Fund’s local supporters, Native community members, family, and friends.  This evening is an excellent opportunity to share the work of the Fund and to celebrate our national impact on educational access for Native students attending tribal colleges across the United States.

To mark this special occasion, the Fund hosts this same evening, the opening night of an invited art exhibit entitled “Open Identities” by Native artist Cody Saint Arnold.  The evening will include a welcome by Fund President Cheryl Crazy Bull, and a few words by Cody Saint Arnold contextualizing the works presented in this special exhibition.  Guests will enjoy viewing the art, visiting with the Fund staff, listening to Native flute music, and tasting delicious Southwestern “Fresca” themed appetizers and beverages.

“Open Identities” by Cody Saint Arnold will be on display at the American Indian College Fund through September 2013. The American Indian College Fund plans to invite artists to show their work for the enjoyment of the Fund staff.  Invited exhibits will be open to visitors on special occasions into the future.  For more information about the art exhibits at the Fund, please contact Tarajean Yazzie-Mintz, member of the art exhibit acquisition committee (

It is an honor to welcome our local supporters, Native community members, family, and friends to join us for a special evening of art, music and light refreshments.

RSVP for this event to Darrick Silversmith (

About the Artist

Cody St. Arnold

I am a printmaker from Albuquerque, New Mexico.  I am currently based in Boulder, Colorado. In my fifth year of study at CU Boulder, pursuing a BA in the Ethnic Studies program, I was forever turned to printmaking by a series of Silkscreen, Relief, and Intaglio classes presented by world-wide recognized printmaker and associate professor of Printmaking at CU-Boulder, Melanie Yazzie. In the presentation of her Navajo culture in her works, it opened my mind to how much in flux I carry my identity as a Jicarilla Apache/Keeweenaw Bay Ojibwe Indian and as a current U.S. citizen invested and living in our rapidly changing state of American culture. I wish to pursue many perspectives of philosophy that has carried me further through these seemingly troubled times for the Native American identity.
Art has always had a transcendental purpose for human beings, as if to take what we have already and create a world of matter that makes sense to us and fills our souls with an impression. I try to understand what kind of impact from things like indie rock and psychedelia, Eurocentric academia, living in the white Northeast Heights of Albuquerque, and many other events have all shaped my perception of my life. Being a Native American challenges these notions further because it is knowledge and an inescapable mission to give respect to the generations of Indians who brought us here to this world in the first place. And to challenge the notion of being Native American is further accentuated by the fact that I didn’t grow up on a reservation. Where does one feel like one can belong with such a large quantity of knowledge and inherited responsibilities?
The exhibit, “Open Identity” draws out issues of identity, belonging, cultural representation and notions of becoming.  The exhibit presents the artist’s journey with earlier prints to current works responding to the notion of educational access and success.

Comcast Cares Day at the Denver Indian Center

On Saturday morning in Denver, the city got a respite from a month of freezing temperatures and several feet of snow. The weather worked out perfectly for volunteers from the American Indian College Fund, who teamed up with about 100 volunteers to participate in the Comcast Cares Day at the Denver Indian Center, Inc.

Volunteers helped with improvements including planting gardens, installing a new playground, converting the children’s bathrooms to adult bathrooms, painting, cleaning, shredding documents, priming an exterior wall for a mural project, and hanging artwork donated from the Denver Art Museum in the gym and a flat screen TV in the lobby.

Many of these improvements were desperately needed for the facility, a former elementary school that now serves as the center for Native community programs to fulfill the Denver Indian Center’s mission “to empower our youth, families and community through self-determination, cultural identity and education.”

It is was truly a fulfilling day to know that we were making a difference by giving some time to help improve a place where many Denver natives come for services and programs. The day was made possible by the support of Comcast, the local employees of Comcast, Rotary International (who provided a component of the playground), and the community members and service organizations that donated their time to spruce up a place some never knew existed.

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Updates from the Wakanyeja Early Childhood Education Initiative

The ECED Special Topics course attended the Native American Child and Family Conference on Wed. March 20th at the Hotel Albuquerque.  Students attended conference sessions of their choice and also helped facilitate a workshop from 3:00-5pm.  Over 50 people attended the session!  Conference attendees included Indian Head Start staff and administration from the southwest.  SIPI’s workshop focused on sharing information regarding how SIPI works to engage Head Start families in developing a cultural curriculum.  Audience members were engaged in the process and had many questions regarding the Wakanyeja “Sacred Little Ones” project.  Following the presentation, Dr. Tarajean Yazzie-Mintz- Wakanyeja “Sacred Little Ones” program officer from the American Indian College Fund, engaged the group in a debriefing session where students reflected on the experience.

Students who participated include: Shelby Holt, Brandon Barney, Christine Lucero, Kim Dominic Ray, Sasha Brown, Michele Morgan, Jody Lucero, and Sandra Sandoval (not pictured)

A big thank you to everyone who supported our efforts to include students in meaningful learning experiences that allow them to contribute to the greater community.  Many tribal Head Start teachers and administrators attended the session.  Students are helping to solidify SIPI’s reputation as a community college that engages students in meaningful experiences.  Look for more to come from our future Indian educators!

by Danielle Lansing, Ed. D
Early Childhood Instructor/Coordinator
Wakanyeja “Sacred Little Ones” Project Director


Program Leads present their research at Society for Applied Anthropology

The Wakanyeja ECE Initiative tribal college grantees, Northwest Indian College, College of Menominee Nation, Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute and Ilisagvik College, presented their respective research on strengthening early childhood education in Native communities at the Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA) in Denver on March 23, 2013.  Each funded tribal college developed a research poster to highlight model programming implementation, parent empowerment, language and culture educational opportunities, and development of high quality instruction in early learning programs serving Native children and families.  Presenting at national scholarly conferences and on research-based practices is new for these project directors, and they received ample engagement of their ideas from a number of participants representing scholarship in the fields of education and anthropology.  Feedback from participants included increased praise of the American Indian College Fund’s activities in supporting research-based practices and accolades about the new knowledge emerging from Northwest Indian College, College of Menominee Nation, Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute and Ilisagvik College.

Funders Meet Little Big Horn College President and Student

by Rachel Piontak

On Friday, the Fund’s staff was given a rare treat: the opportunity to hear from both a TCU president and TCU student in one day. The presentation highlighted their challenges, successes, and overall vision for their tribe’s future. Sharing these words were President of Little Big Horn College, Dr. David Yarlott, and a first-year business student, Riley Singer.

Dr. Yarlott opened the presentation by introducing himself in his tribal language of Crow, one of the many Native languages in danger of extinction. He briefly shared his own history of growing up on the reservation and his early struggles with education until he realized its full value and went on to complete a doctoral degree in education. It was during this time that Little Big Horn College (LBHC) invited him back to teach business courses in 1998.

LBHC was established on the Crow reservation in Montana in 1980 with just 13 students. Now, less than 25 years later, the school has been the educational home for as many as 417 students each year as they pursue one of the many options of accredited associate’s degrees available. What began as a mad dash to sit beneath one of the two lights in an old gymnasium for class has now developed into an expansive campus full of intricate designs and cultural symbolism.

According to Dr. Yarlott, culture was a heavily weighted factor in their campus architecture, layout, and overall design. For example, the campus is laid out in a semi-circle pattern, reflective of the early Crow encampments. The home of the leader represented wisdom, knowledge, and leadership and would be situated at the far Western end of the camp so they will be first to see the sunrise. Likewise, at LBHC, the statutes of wisdom, knowledge, and leadership are represented by the archives, library, and administration buildings located at the far Western end of the campus.

In this way, LBHC’s campus is able to both maintain its history as well as tell its story to everyone who passes through.

Part of the school’s vision, as shared by Dr. Yarlott, calls LBHC students, staff, and faculty to “make our own future, not wait for it to come to us.” This is evident in the school’s progressive initiatives to encourage continuing education, environmental sustainability, and expanding program offerings.

Dr. Yarlott continued to make connections between education and Crow culture throughout the presentation. It was summed up perfectly by his words that “mountains are our heart, the river is our blood, and the college is our mind.”

When a devastating flood hit the Crow reservation in May 2011, LBHC was at the forefront of organizing relief and aid efforts. This is just one way that tribal colleges and universities have served as not only an educational hotspot, but also a gathering place for local communities to gain support.

The second speaker, Riley Singer, “Bull in the Clouds,” also spoke about his experiences on the reservation and as a student at LBHC. As a Fund scholarship recipient, Riley demonstrated the importance of determination and traditional values in his educational career.

Raised by his grandparents on their cattle ranch in Lodge Grass, Riley learned the value of hard work and respect at a young age. Throughout his informative slideshow, we learned of the traditional upbringing and cultural practices that defined his youth. One of the most striking features, however, was the emphasis he gave to the value of education. This was demonstrated very strongly through his own life choices and through the lives of his ancestors.

Riley is currently pursuing an associate’s degree in business administration with an emphasis on small business management and plans to complete his bachelor’s through Rocky Mountain College afterwards. This education, he believes, will best prepare him to take over his family’s cattle ranching business.

Both Dr. Yarlott and Riley brought inspiration and valuable information through their presentations. It was inspiring to hear recounts of their educational journey while upholding cultural traditions and an incredible reminder as to why the Fund exists to support this journey.