California Tribe Presents $30,000 in Scholarships To American Indian Students
MORONGO INDIAN RESERVATION, Banning, Calif.
Creating a new program designed to provide financial support for California American Indian students statewide, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians launched a scholarship program unique to the state. Three American Indian students were the first recipients of this innovative effort when they were presented with $30,000 in scholarship funds by the Morongo tribal council in May.
Morongo is reportedly the first tribe to create an academic scholarship program available to any enrolled member of a California Indian tribe who is a full-time student at an accredited college or university. Applicants are required to have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.75; must complete 60 hours with a designated California Indian community agency; and be actively involved in the American Indian community.
“Education is such a serious priority for all Native Americans that we felt it was important to make scholarship funds accessible to all qualified Indian students, no matter what tribe they were from,” said Morongo tribal chairman Maurice Lyons. “Education opens the door to having choices in life, and we wanted to help open the doors to tribal youth from all California tribes.”
According to Morongo scholarship administrator Bill Cornelius, 17 applications from 13 different tribes were received by the tribe when it published its scholarship application in late February with applications due in April. Three recipients — Karen D. Kolb-Williamson, a member of the Ricon Band of Luiseno Indians enrolled at the University of Phoenix; Ruby Tuttle, a member of the Yurok Tribe enrolled at Humbolt State University; and Ki-Shan D. Lara, a member of the Hupa Valley Tribe enrolled at Arizona State University — were selected as the first recipients of the Morongo funds.
“Self-reliance is making education possible for Indian tribes,” Lyons explained. “Right now we are graduating more high school students than ever before. We operate a Headstart program for preschoolers, provide tutoring programs for elementary and high school students; offer adult education classes and university degrees through a scholarship program for tribal members. Establishing this academic scholarship program for a broader spectrum of Native Americans seemed like the logical next step.”
For further information, visit the Morongo Band of Mission Indians Web site at <www.morongonation.org>.
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