Join Us in Celebrating Native Heritage Month


November 1 marks the start of National American Indian Heritage Month. All month long we will we celebrate the contributions of First Americans to our great nation and providing you with information on the traditions and cultures of the students we serve.

In a web portal developed by the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, the celebration was proclaimed as “National American Indian Heritage Month.” Similar proclamations were made under variations on the name (including ‘Native American Heritage Month’ and ‘National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month’).

This November, visit our website and social media outlets, where we will share links and resources on Native culture, art, stories, photos, videos, recipes, events, and causes, shared by our Native scholars, to help you celebrate. We welcome your participation and encourage you to comment and submit blog postings (of any medium) for consideration and share with your friends.

Join our celebration on Twitter (@collegefund) and join the conversation with the Hashtag #nahm, and on

Want to share a story or post on our blog or web site as part National American Indian Heritage Month? Please contact the Public Education team at the American Indian College Fund at



Native Instructor Norma Marshall Shares Importance of a TCU Education

Norma Marshall of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma is a student adviser and instructor of Native American Studies at the College of the Muscogee Nation in Okmulgee, Oklahoma. Marshall, who earned her baccalaureate in education with an emphasis in English and physical education from East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma and a master of science in counseling and student personnel, with an emphasis in secondary education, from Oklahoma State University, said she never thought she would end up teaching in higher education.

Marshall is the daughter of a Muscogee who attended boarding schools She emphasized the importance of tribal colleges in an interview in Indian Country This Week, saying they “give our Native American students a tie to their cultural identity.”

Many Natives are just learning about their culture and heritage at a tribal college, because public schools gloss over that, Marshall says. She is also a bilingual educator of the Muscogee language at the College of the Muscogee Nation, an AIHEC associate member school located in Oklahoma.

Marshall says the college’s curriculum is centered on indigenous history, such as Indian land issues, tribal court systems, Native American history and tribal governments, while also giving students exposure to the language.






2012 Flame of Hope Gala Raises $650,000

Dance. Dream. Discover.



The 17th annual American Indian College Fund (the Fund) Flame of Hope Gala raised more than $650,000 to benefit needy American Indian students.

Dwight Carlston (Navajo), a second-year honor student at Navajo Technical College, addressed the crowd, crediting his family with putting him on his path to college and the American Indian College Fund with helping him to achieve his goals as he continues to work towards earning a bachelor’s degree. Dwight was presented with the first-ever Richard B. Williams-Seventh Generation Leadership Endowment scholarship, which was established to honor the Fund’s retired President and CEO.


The Fund, under the leadership of its new President and CEO Dr. Cheryl Crazy Bull, honored the late Stanley R. Crooks, former Tribal Chairman of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux (SMSC), for changing the lives of his people and Indian Country through his strong leadership. Dr. Crazy Bull said, “He saw all Native peoples as his relatives and supported them just as he did his own people. With his leadership, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community became one of the American Indian College Fund’s most valued and generous supporters.” Crooks’ wife Cheryl was in attendance to accept the honor.

Gala2012003_copy.jpgNationally renowned Native artist Bunky Echo-Hawk created a painting live at the event. The piece, a stunning portrait of an American Indian man in traditional dress, was awarded to the SMSC for pledging $50,000 to benefit the Richard B. Williams-Seventh Generation Leadership Endowment.

Pendleton Woolen Mills presented retired President Richard B. Williams with a commemorative blanket, named Tatanka Huhanska (Tall Bull), Mr. Williams’ Lakota name, in his honor. The blanket will be available for purchase in March, with a percentage of proceeds funding American Indian scholarships.

The event also featured performances by Native entertainers, including flutist R. Carlos Nakaí, Native Pride Arts dancers, Southern California Kahweeyah Bird Singers and Dancers, Pipestone Hand Drum Group, and Iron Boy drum group.

The key sponsor for the evening was USA Funds. Other sponsors included San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, Coca-Cola Foundation, Nissan North America, Comcast/NBC Universal, Lannan Foundation and local sponsors such as United Health Foundation, Travelers, US Bank, Grotto Foundation and the Northwest Area Foundation.

Please Click Here to View the Gala Slide Show

Advertisers Speak About Need for Diversity and Giving Back

Wieden+Kennedy founder and Advertising Hall of Fame inductee David Kennedy speaks about why his firm is committed to helping the American Indian College Fund and tribal colleges create greater awareness.


Audra Stonefish, Embrey Women’s Leadership Fellow, Shares Her Gratitude After D.C. Retreat

Embrey Women Leadership Group in Washington, D.C. Above, they begin their trip with a photo in front of the embassy of tribal nations.

Spending a few days in D.C. with my fellowship sisters gave us the chance to experience a new city together and an opportunity to meet with some of our nation’s leaders.

American Indian College Fund wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier€” at Arlington National Cemetery.

One experience I will never forget was the laying of the wreath ceremony at the Arlington Cemetery. As we strolled toward the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, I felt sorrow and privilege all intertwined: sorrow for the men and women who lost their lives fighting for this great country and the privilege of being fortunate enough to have been present for this occasion. As I walked towards the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, I recognized that this was a moment I was not supposed to let go. I was about to witness the group representing the American Indian College Fund honoring this soldier.

Watching my sisters marching in unison towards the monument, escorted by the Guard of Honor, was truly unique to anything I’ve ever observed before. The pride they carried in their eyes was noble, and we all knew that we were there to represent more than just ourselves. We were representing our friends, family, children, and Indian Country. The sound of Taps was performed by an officer off to the side and I could feel my emotions run high. I watched spectators take pictures of these women, and then take pictures again afterwards of our entire group. I felt proud to be there. I felt security in knowing that these women would be my support group to lean on for the rest of my life, and that we would all reminisce and converse about this experience together down the road.

This Embrey Indian Women in Leadership program is certainly a prestigious opportunity for me. I have gained experience and met people I might otherwise not have had without this opportunity. The support I receive from the American Indian College Fund has been a key benefactor to my success as a graduate student. I am completely confident in completing my education and providing a positive role model to others who need support. There’s a quote that my late grandmother, Audrey Stonefish, always used to tell me throughout my undergraduate years: “Your children will become in the future what you make of yourself today.”

Our Vote is Our Voice

The Ritchie Center debate hall at the University of Denver hosted the first 2012 presidential debate, on Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012.

Being in the same room as the nominees for President of the United States, President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me. Many of us have traveled to Washington, D.C. to visit Congress and federal agencies and never get to see the President.  Many of us attend rallies for one of the candidates but rarely get to see the two nominees in the same room.

When the nominees entered the Ritchie Center at the University of Denver campus, everyone in the audience stood and clapped.  In honor of the sacrifices of our ancestors to protect our homelands and because these men need our prayers, I did the lillili during this time. It was a poignant moment for me because in my heart, I am still a girl from St. Francis and Rosebud and I know how the decisions of these men will affect each of us in our daily lives.  I prayed for guidance for both of them.  I wore my eagle plume that my adopted mother, Doris Leader Charge, had given me, and a nice Northwest Coast shawl.

Every election for President affects us as Native people. The President and Congress are the enactors of the trust responsibility inherent in our Nation-to-Nation relationships and retained in our treaty relationships.  As all of you who follow our Native columnists like Mark Trahant ( or the writers at The Last Real Indians ( know – we are a small constituency for the President – but how we are treated is a reflection of the integrity and commitment of the President as the leader of a country built on the dreams and blood of our ancestors.

The American Indian College Fund joins other national, regional, and local Indian organizations in our support of Native Vote (  It is very important for all tribal college students to register to vote, check to see if their friends and family are registered, and to get out and vote on Election Day, November 6. Each candidate for office, whether local or national, will make decisions that affect our daily lives. The President of the United States and the members of Congress decide how much PELL grants are. They create the charitable and tax environment that supports the scholarships that so many of our students depend upon.

Presidential candidates have positions on issues that affect us such as the environment, energy development, and government regulation of financial corporations, trade, transportation, and wars. These candidates are starkly different on issues such as health care, militarization, and taxation.  We only need to look around our own reservation communities to see if enough resources are being allocated for our housing, health, education, and infrastructure needs as we decide who to vote for and what our expectations are of our elected leaders.

Presidential debates are an exclusive experience for those who are able to attend in person – the election of the President, however, is a shared experience for all of us. We are in this together and our vote counts.

I want to share my appreciation with the people from Anheuser Busch , especially Margarita Flores, who was gracious enough to invite me as a community partner through the Fund.  They were generous and friendly hosts.  Anheuser Busch is a long-time sponsor of the Commission on Presidential Debates. I learned more about them as a multinational corporation and about the Commission as a result of this invitation.

A few fun things about the experience:

  1.  It was dark in the hall and we were instructed on penalty of public humiliation to not clap, boo, or otherwise make noise during the debate.
  2. All the pre-debate discussion included admonitions not to use our cell phones and when someone took a picture from my side of the room during the debate everyone turned and stared at him.
  3. The nominees are much taller in person then they look on TV.
  4. It was warm in the afternoon, windy during the hospitality time prior to the session, and very cold when we came out.
  5. The secret service agents really do wear ear phones with curly wire attachments.


President Crazy Bull Visits South Dakota

On Monday October 1st, my husband Alex Prue and I enjoyed a beautiful drive from the He Sapa (Black Hills) down through the Maka Sice (Badlands) across vast prairies and valleys of fall gold cottonwoods and red sumac into the homelands of the Oglala. We visited Oglala Lakota College’s (OLC) main campus at Kyle.

Sitting atop a hill, OLC began on this site with a building shaped like a turtle and originally intended to house the Oglala tribal government. Marilyn Pourier, long time OLC development director, hosted my visit.  Several services are now housed at the Kyle site, including the historical and cultural center, the library, and the bookstore.  At the bookstore, Alex got to see a former student from his coaching days at Little Wound; she has been the long-time bookstore manager.  It turned out that her daughter, Sydnee, is one of the students who appeared in the American Indian College Fund’s Help a Student Help a Tribe public service announcement campaign.  The bookstore had hung a copy of the cover of Shape magazine in which her picture appeared on the bulletin board.

OLC offers many programs throughout their reservation and at one off-Rez location in Rapid City, but they are particularly proud of their Lakota immersion school. Housed in their multi-purpose building, the success of the school prompted an expansion that is now underway. It is impressive to see the commitment of OLC’s leadership, President Tom Shortbull, and their board to language restoration. We witnessed happy children in both the classroom and practicing soccer in the gym.

During my visit I learned that the college hosts artists at their cultural center throughout the summer for week-long sessions and has numerous partnerships with the Tribe and the National Park Service for tourism referrals.

We went from Kyle down to Pine Ridge before heading home to Denver. We enjoyed lunch at Sacred Heart Church’s lunch sale with my brother Harold Compton and saw entrepreneurship in action at the flea market and the church sales.

New classroom being built as part of expansion of OLC immersion school.

Students in OLC Lakota immersion class.

Marilyn Pourier, OLC development director.

Tribal Colleges Rank as Top Degree-Producers for Native Students

For several years, Diverse Issues in Higher Education magazine has listed the top schools that confer degrees to students of color. insert link:

This year Diné College in Arizona, United Tribes Technical College in North Dakota, Oglala Lakota College in South Dakota, Little Big Horn College and Fort Peck Community College in Montana, Sinte Gleska University in South Dakota and Turtle Mountain Community College in North Dakota are among the top-ranked schools for conferring associate’s degrees; Haskell Indian Nations University in Kansas is among the top-ranked schools for conferring Natives with undergraduate degrees.

Please share your story. If you are a student or alumni, why did you choose to attend a tribal college?



Passion for Our People and Business Principles Make Successful Partnership


Bruce DeBoskey, a Colorado-based philanthropic adviser for the DeBoskey Group, noted in a recent article in The Denver Post that although the trend in philanthropy has been to make it become more strategic and effective. The Fund has rigorously employed systems to help our donors to transparently see how we invest their dollars in our communities, and how those dollars help our students, tribal colleges, and our Native communities.

DeBoskey, however, says business and scientific methodologies to measure outcomes alone are not enough. He says people give–and causes are founded–because of the emotional component of philanthropy–in short, because they like helping others and derive satisfaction from that. The do so because of the compassion they have for others and their desire to alleviate suffering; respect for the people or causes they wish to help (rather than imposing their will on a cause); trust in the goodwill of others (and the ability of the donee to wisely use their gift); passion for their cause of choice; and integrity–incorporating virtue, honesty and sincerity into giving.

The Fund employes sound accounting and auditing principles so that our donors have the metrics they need to see how together we are improving the lives of others. But that isn’t enough. Without our shared compassion, passion, respect, trust, and integrity, the American Indian College Fund would not be where it is today. So thank you for sharing so much of yourself with our communities, and sharing our passion for Native education and changing Indian Country–one person at a time!

Meet Dwight, Our Student Speaker for the Flame of Hope Gala!

Every year the American Indian College Fund’s Flame of Hope Gala affords our supporters a chance to meet our students and hear how you help make a difference in their lives. We’d like to introduce you to this year’s student speaker, Dwight Carlson (Navajo), an environmental science major, two-time U.S. Forest Service student intern, firefighter, All-American cross country runner, and bull rider. Dwight is an amazing young man whose potential might not have been met without the chance to earn a college education.

You can read Dwight’s story here. Of course we hope you have the chance to meet Dwight in person at our Flame of Hope Gala! If you haven’t already registered, do so today!