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July 30, 2010

2010 Prism Award Nominations Needed

Submissions for the 2010 Prism Award are now being accepted. The deadline for submission is Friday, August 20, 2010. Download 2010 Nomination Form FINAL

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian Prism Award honors outstanding individuals that make significant and exceptional contributions to Native American communities. Selected individuals demonstrate extraordinary and innovative approaches to public service, exceeding the expected levels of community outreach generally associated with community service. 

Criteria for Selection
The main qualification for selection is community service, as demonstrated by the individual’s ongoing commitment to the community.

Nominations should describe:
• The individual’s goals in serving the community.
• The population served (youth, senior citizens, community-at-large, etc)
• How the individual works with the community to achieve their goals.
• The outcome of this effort during the past two to three years.
• How the individual will sustain their efforts in the future.

The Executive Committee of the museum's Board of Trustees reviews all submissions. 

Last year the NMAI Prism Award was given to Maria Hinton (Oneida) and Irving Nelson (Navajo) during the museum's Anniversary Gala Reception held on Oct. 7, 2009.

We look forward to receiving your nominations.

- Kevin Gover


DSC_2164 Wes Studi presents the 2009 Prism Award to Maria Hinton's nephew, Ernie Stevens, Jr. 

2009 Prism Award winner Irving Nelson (right) and his son.


Comments (6)

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Congratulation for Maria Hinton (Oneida) and Irving Nelson (Navajo) as the winner of 2009 Prism Award.

Wonder who will get it this year? I didn't see this entry before now. Just wanted to add a short comment: Congratulations to Maria and Irving for their outstanding work and service attitude. They act as perfect role models and deserve to be held up high. Our society would be transformed if more people were like them.

Maria and Irving have set the bar level for their dedication and great work they have accomplished. They lead by example.

awesome post...keep it up!

Thanks. Good informations.

Awesome no words just keep it up

July 27, 2010

"Insightful Beyond Their Years"- Holland and Knight Young Native Writers Essay Contest Honor Ceremony

Last Thursday, July 22, 2010 is a day I won’t readily forget. The Holland and Knight Young Native Writers Essay Contest is an essay scholarship contest designed to inspire a sense of pride, honor and dignity in young Native American high school students. I can honestly say that this event is one of the most inspiring events I’ve ever had the pleasure to be involved with.  This year the students were asked to describe a crucial issue confronting their tribal communities today and to explain how they hope to help their tribal communities respond to this challenge and improve its future.

Five young writers were selected to receive an all-expense paid week-long trip to Washington, D.C. for an honoring ceremony at the National Museum of the American Indian. The teachers that influenced them to write their essays were also invited on the trip. Each student received a $2,500 college scholarship. At the ceremony the students were asked to stand at the podium and say a few words about their experience in D.C. and the issue they wrote about. I could not hold back the tears. I was sincerely moved by what all the students had to say about the issues that were important to them.  Another highlight of the ceremony included former Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell as the key note speaker.


The 2010 YNWEC Winners L-R: Ashley Vance (Chickasaw), Julian Brave Noisecat (Shuswap), Tashina Swalley (Sicangu), Ferguson Nez (Navajo) and Myacah Sampson (Navajo). Photo by Katherine Fogden

Tashina Swalley (Sicangu Lakota) wrote her essay on a critical issue that is not only   devastating to the Sicangu Lakota but is also very emotional for her. Tashina wrote about suicide. An issue that affects everyone the victim is close to. Tashina was inspired to write about this issue after her best friend committed suicide. “I didn’t know how I was feeling” said Tashina, “I was sad I lost my best friend, I was mad because she left me so soon, and I was shocked because she was such a happy person.” Tashina Swalley’s tribal council members came all the way from South Dakota to be there in support of their winners. They presented Tashina with a certificate of appreciation embroidered and beaded on leather and presented an honor song for their accomplished writer. As she accepted her awards she could hardly hold back the tears but she wasn’t alone. The entire crowd had trouble with that task. You could feel the overwhelming respect that filled the Potomac Atrium. A standing ovation immediately began to form. I was probably one of the last to stand because I was frantically wiping my tears to appear that much more professional but in actuality this was not a time that called for best appearances. Bombarded with waves of emotion is how I felt and how I’m sure the rest of the crowd felt. It was the most appropriate time to share how interwoven our lives and stories as Native people really are.

After the ceremony the students were in for a treat. As a matter of fact I was in for a treat as well. Their lunch was in the Patrons Lounge of the museum and consisted of chocolate-covered churros, mushroom bread pudding, chilled herbal tea and chipotle chicken tacos with ALL the fixins! The luncheon was catered entirely by Mitsitam Cafe! So I’m sure you know it was Mmmm-mm good! Thanks Richard Hetzler, Mitsitam executive chef!

With a full bellies the students were ready for their work to begin again. Without delay they began an interview with host Jay Winter Nightwolf (Cherokee/Taino/Shoshone) from  WPFW 89.3 FM - Pacifica Radio. They were probably eager to do this interview because a kayak trip would soon follow. In the interview the students answered questions like “What is an Indian?” and “What motivated you to enter this essay contest?” They all had interesting answers, completely unique and unrehearsed. As I sat and listened I could tell they were slightly nervous; probably because the room was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. All eyes were on them. They were the stars.


 I immediately noticed a recurring theme among the students’ answers. Most of them were battling an issue of identity. I learned that Myacah Sampson (Navajo) was raised in Kirkland, NM which is a bordertown to the Navajo Nation reservation. I have spent a lot of time in bordertowns so without question I knew the issue of racism would be Important to consider in this discussion due to its prominence among Natives and non-Natives in bordertowns. I can imagine that Myacah has had to assert herself as a Native American but also had to prove to her own family of her identity as she is also African-American. Similarly, Ashley Vance (Chickasaw) is 1/32nd Chickasaw. Her paper was focused on the issue of blood quantum and of who decides who is a “real” Indian. Julian Brave Noisecat (Shuswap) was also a part of this discussion. He is of Shuswap and of Anglo-American ancestry.  He lives with his mother who is non-Native off the reservation. In his efforts to not lose his Native American identity he travels back and forth to the reservation in order to stay connected with his people. His mother is also a huge influence on his life and encourages him to learn as much as he can about himself. She is actually the very reason he entered the Holland and Knight Young Native Writers Essay Contest. Ferguson Nez (Navajo) contributed his thoughts about living in two worlds. He was inspired to write his essay on his grandmother’s ability to blend a modern and traditional lifestyle. WPFW 89.3 FM - Pacifica Radio runs on Friday evenings from 7 - 8 PM. Stay tuned to hear this interview next month!

All in all, I had a blast getting to know the winners of the 2010 Holland and Knight Young Native Writers Essay Contest.

Congratulations to all the writers who are insightful beyond their years! Thank you for inspiring us all!

To read the winning essays follow this link: http://nativewriters.hklaw.com/ESSAYS/2010/index.asp

-Glennas'ba Augborne, NMAI Summer Intern

Comments (2)

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My name is Mr. Jason P. Hicks. I am an art teacher in Twin Falls, Idaho. I have just read the article and wanted to offer a compliment to the courageous and necessary effort the young people have displayed by entering the contest. I recently learned that race is a modern idea. It is not grounded on genetics, skin color, DNA code,or any of that stuff. It was invented to segregated for convenience. I would love to learn more about your passionate perspective, students, about the issues you face in school. There seems to be a growing interest in meaningful knowledge about American Indians in the classroom and society. Your voice is in demand....keep speaking.

This is an eye-opener, there are the joys of belonging to the rich culture of American Indians and there will also be the challenges that these great people will encounter because of society. It is good to learn that these intelligent young writers value their beautiful culture and it is more inspiring to know that they serve as the voices, speaking for what is right. Congratulations to the winners, may they continue to be great individuals.