Feds accuse 15 people of stealing Yakama Nation scholarship funds

By Kate Prengaman, Yakima Herald-Republic

TOPPENISH, Wash. — Fifteen people, including an interim manager and former manager, are facing federal charges for allegedly stealing $179,000 worth of scholarships from the Yakama Nation Higher Education Program.

The suspects were awarded a total of 67 checks ranging from $1,000 to $6,500 for studies at colleges and universities that reported the students had never enrolled or completed coursework, according to the indictments handed down in U.S. District Court in Yakima.

According to investigators, the fraudulent scholarship applications were submitted between 2009 and 2012.

The tribe’s higher education program administered both federal Bureau of Indian Affairs student assistance funding and the tribe’s own scholarship program. Estimates of how much money was available for scholarships through the program each year was not available Wednesday.

Calls to the Yakama Nation Tribal Council requesting comment were not returned.

FBI agents and Yakama Nation police arrested 11 people on Tuesday, said Ayn Dietrich, an FBI spokeswoman in Seattle. They made court appearances in Yakima on Tuesday.

Those not arrested were expected to report to court this week, Dietrich said.

Among those indicted were Priscilla Marie Gardee, interim manager of the program, and Delford Neaman, former manager. Also indicted were Phillip Stevens, Anthony Linn Gardee, Sophia Leta Gardee, Tamera Jean Gardee, Latonia Wheeler, Cynthia A. Arthur, Crystal L. Miller, Arnetta Amy Blodgett, Brycene Allen Neaman, Gilbert Onepennee, Odessa P. Johnson, Phillip A. Burdeau Sr. and Susan Aleck.

According to program documentation from 2013, scholarship funding was to go to Yakama students attending a college or university full time. Awards were granted at the rate of $1,500 per academic year for undergraduate students and $3,000 a year for graduate students. Students who withdrew from school were required to refund their scholarships.

Too Many Scholarships, Not Enough Native Students Applying

Dr. Dean Chavers, Indian Country Today

In talking to my friend Al Paulson recently, it turned out we have a common problem. We can’t give away scholarships. What a shame.

In the modern age of computers, scholarships are everywhere, it seems. FastWeb, the most popular scholarship site, has over 1.5 million entries in its database. Other websites such as Scholarships.comhave similar numbers. But it’s hard to give them away, let me tell you. I have been doing it for 42 years, and we never have enough applicants.

Al Paulsen who lives in St. Paul, Minnesota founded Marketplace Productions 20 years ago. After he had some success in business, he and other members of the Minnesota American Indian Chamber of Commerce decided to launch an Indian scholarship program. But for almost a decade now, he has had trouble getting Native American studentsto apply for it.

Paulsen has worked with casinos and business development on Indian reservations for over 30 years now. His mother was a LaDuke from White Earth before she married his father Albin Paulsen. So Al is a first cousin of the famous Indian activist Winona LaDuke. He says his mother got hooked on his father because he was a member of a band that played in the local area.

They lived north of White Earth and farmed for a few years, and then moved to the Twin Cities. Albin got a job in the Ford plant and worked there until he retired. Al got a job at Ford after he finished high school, but the hard work convinced him he needed to go to college. He became one of the early White Earth citizens to finish college.

He picked St. Cloud State University(SCSU) because they had a great hockey team and he wanted to play. The Minnesota Chippewa Tribe (MCT) gave him a scholarship; without it, he says, he would not have been able to go to college. “Without that grant,” he told me, “I don’t know if I could have afforded to complete my college degree.” He finished in 1966, and is now in the SCSU Hall of Fame as a hockey player.

He was the first LaDuke to finish college, and Winona was the second. “By the end of my sophomore year,” he said, “I realized that educationwas a great equalizer, so I got serious about college and graduated in four and a half years.” He made the varsity hockey team as a freshman, and is still the only Indian ever to play hockeyfor St. Cloud State.

He paid for his first year himself, from work at Ford and from a rice business he had set up. But the scholarship from MCT paid his tuition for the rest of his college.

Al is also an enthusiastic volunteer, and has been for 20 years. “I am an instructor at Indian schools for Junior Achievement as my way of paying back for what the tribe did for me in paying for my tuition and books and assisting me in getting my college degree,” he told me. “I am also on the Diversity Council for MNSCU, the Minnesota State College and University board, overseeing 42 state colleges and tech colleges in Minnesota.”

“We talk a lot about retention rates and graduation rates, comparing all ethnic minorities with all the others and the caucasian student rates. There is a big difference in rates, with white students and Asian students having the best rates…and us Indians having the lowest rates. From our state, it appears the rates for Indian students are improving.”

The Indian Chamber, which he chaired for awhile, set up a scholarship fund several years ago to give two scholarships of copy,500 each to two students. They wanted to give them to students with business majors, but got so few applicants that they opened it to students with any major. And they still get only a handful of applicants.

I told him about some of my experiences trying to get Indian students to apply for scholarships. I was in Holbrook, Arizona 10 years ago to try to recruit Indian students for our scholarship.

We encourage students to apply not only for ours, but for every scholarship they can find. These days, that is 40 or more. We had a student from Laguna Pueblo four years ago, Isaiah Rodriguez, who found 102 scholarships—which is still our highest total. We have been going since 1986. The national record is still 200, which a black girl from Macon, Georgia accomplished in 1991. Her name is Marianne (Angel) Ragins, and she is now “Miss Scholarship.” She has written three books about how to win scholarships. Our reservation school libraries do not have these books.

As I talked to the students at Holbrook, I told them they should find all the local scholarships as well, such as Lions, Elks, Rotary, Moose, and so on. The counselor at Holbrook High School, Dean McNamee, whose daughter is one of our grads, piped up and said, “Yes, the Elks had four scholarships last year, and no one applied for them.”

That makes me sad. I hate to see any scholarship not be awarded. I know there is a student somewhere, maybe an Indian student, who could use that scholarship.

For four straight years, I visited one high school on the Navajoreservation to recruit students. But one day my assistant asked me why I was going there. “How many applicants have we gotten from there?” she asked.

I had to admit, “None.” She said, “Why are you going there every year?” I haven’t been back. But old hard headed here will probably go back this year. We have to talk to 100 students to get two to apply.

I know the high schools are not preparing Indian students for college. In a research project I did 15 years ago, fewer than 10 percent of Indian students had taken the courses in high school they needed to be ready for college.

Fewer than 10 percent had taken four years of English. Fewer than 10 percent had taken four years of science. Fewer than 10 percent had taken four years of math, including Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, and Trigonometry. Fewer than 5 percent had taken Calculus. If they go to college, they are going to have to take remedial classes, which is a real let down to the Indian valedictorian who was the BMOC (Big Man on Campus) in high school. Some of them never get over the humiliation. Is it any wonder that our dropout ratefor Indian college students is over 80 percent?

High school preparation for college is an excellent research project for a graduate student, by the way. I just finished reviewing dozens of articles and books for my next book, and there is very little research on the high school preparation of Indian students for college. The little that is there is surprising, sometimes. For instance, traditionalism has little to do with college success, according to one article. Another article reports that high GPA students drop out about as often as low GPA students, which is frustrating.

In the research I did, the average number of scholarships Indian students applied for was one. That is, most Indian students did not apply for any scholarships; they rely totally on federal financial aid. Then every twentieth student applied for 10 or 20 scholarships, bringing the average up to one.

Granted the scholarship application process is a little difficult. You should know what you are going to major in, and what you are going to do after graduation. But the rewards are huge. I tell students they should win all the scholarships they can, and if they have more than they need for college, they should give their momma money. And I mean it. Few students do that, but they should. And they can start their retirement with it if they want to.

There is a national scholarship group that was formed 15 years ago. It is an association of college and private scholarship people. I went to the first or second meeting, and several people told me they wanted to get applications from Indian students. “We never get an application from an Indian student,” they told me.

God bless Al Paulsen and the other people who are trying to run scholarship programs. Don’t give up, boys and girls. We need to develop all the talent we can in Indian country.

Dr. Dean Chavers is director of Catching the Dream. Founded in 1986, CTD awards scholarships to high potential Indian college students. It also works to improve Indian schools. His next book will be called “The American Indian Dropout.” It will be published in early 2013. He has written books on Indian leaders, racism in Indian country, exemplary Indian schools, and how to write winning proposals in the past 40 years.


Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2012/09/01/too-many-scholarships-not-enough-native-students-applying-132188

Five Students Earn Scholarships from Northwest Indian Bar Association

Richard Walker, Indian Country Today


BAR ASSOCIATION SCHOLARSHIPS: Five Native students attended law school in 2013-14 with support from the Northwest Indian Bar Association.

This year’s scholarship recipients:

Charisse Arce, Native Village of Iliamna, Seattle University School of Law.

Tiffany Justice, Couer d’Alene, University of Idaho.

Rhylee Marchand, Colville, University of Idaho.

Ashley Ray, Muscogee Creek Nation, University of Idaho.

Cara Wallace, Ketchikan Indian Community, University of Arizona.

The NWIBA offers scholarships every year to Native law students in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington—the deadline is in November—and offers bar-exam stipends in June. For more information, visit the website or contact Lisa Atkinson, Northern Cherokee/Osage, nwibatreasurer@gmail.com.


Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/07/13/five-students-earn-scholarships-northwest-indian-bar-association-155734

Muckleshoot Indian Tribe makes $25,000 gift for UPS scholarships

By , The Suburban Times

TACOMA – University of Puget Sound is pleased to announce a $25,000 gift from the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe that will help provide scholarships for Native American students pursuing their education at the national liberal arts college.

This is the first grant to Puget Sound by the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, which shares the college’s ambition to provide young people with broad access to a quality education that serves as a foundation for a successful career. The $25,000 gift will be allocated in scholarships to eligible Native American students attending Puget Sound.

“Young Native Americans in Washington have bold aspirations, but not always the family resources to ensure they can follow the paths they choose,” said Virginia Cross, chair of the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe. “We hope to encourage more of them to commit to a high-standard college education so they can enter civic and business life in positions that will be a boon to their community and serve as a model for other young people.”

Puget Sound has attracted a rising percentage of students from diverse backgrounds for the past two decades. More than 20 percent of freshmen students in 2012 identified as being from groups traditionally underrepresented in higher education. In the 2012–13 school year, 55 Native American students attended Puget Sound.

To ensure that students can devote themselves to their studies, as well as take advantage of opportunities to participate in campus clubs, community work, and athletic and academic activities, Puget Sound currently offers financial aid to 94 percent of its students. Providing financial support for students is also a key target of the college’s current One [of a Kind] comprehensive campaign.

The Muckleshoot Indian Tribe places priority in awarding grants to organizations that address the unique local and regional issues faced by Native Americans. Awards range across areas including education, health, culture, arts, the environment, community advocacy, and communities of color.

6 Places to Find College Scholarships for Native Students


Sequoyah High SchoolPictured are the six Gates Millennium Scholars from Sequoyah High School in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Pictured, from left, in the front row, are Lakin Keener, Nicole Mangels and Rikki Duvall. Pictured, from left, in the back row, are Zane Kee and Tyler Handle. Not pictured: Nathalie Tomasik.
Sequoyah High School
Pictured are the six Gates Millennium Scholars from Sequoyah High School in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Pictured, from left, in the front row, are Lakin Keener, Nicole Mangels and Rikki Duvall. Pictured, from left, in the back row, are Zane Kee and Tyler Handle. Not pictured: Nathalie Tomasik.


September 04, 2013

While most parents and students are just thinking about getting back to school, high school students should always be thinking about applying to as many scholarships as possible. The more money that can be earned through scholarships means less loans to pay back later.

Here are 6 places for Native students to start looking:

The Gates Millennium Scholars program chooses 1,000 minority students each year—150 of which are Native—to receive scholarships of up to $250,000 that are good until they graduate at a university of their choice. Just keep in mind that while becoming a Gates Scholar will be worth the effort, it won’t be an easy task.

“The application process was really grueling,” said Lakin Keener, 18, a 2013 Gates Scholar from Sequoyah High School. “I spent six months on it. I probably spent two months on one essay alone.”

Applications for the 2014 Gates Millennium Scholars program are due January 15, 2014. For more information, visit GMSP.org.

The American Indian College Fundhas been providing Native students with scholarships and other support since 1989. Alli Moran, Cheyenne River Sioux, is one of those students. The American Indian College Fund has helped her get through attending the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She’s in her third year toward obtaining a bachelor’s degree in indigenous liberal studies and a certificate in business and entrepreneurship.

Application deadlines vary for scholarships offered by the American Indian College Fund. For more information, visit CollegeFund.org.

Catching the Dreamoperates three scholarship programs for Native students—MESBEC, the Native American Leadership Education program and the Tribal Business Management program. MESBEC includes math, engineering, science, business, education and computers and is fund’s oldest program. “These fields are the ones in which tribes need graduates the most, and the fields in which there are the fewest Indian graduates,” says the Catching the Dream website.

The deadline for the spring semester is September 15. For more information, visit CatchingtheDream.org.
The American Indian Science and Engineering Society provides scholarships to Native students in an effort to increase the representation of American Indians and Alaska Natives in STEM—science, technology, engineering and math—fields.

The 2013 AISES National Conference will be held October 31 to November 2 in Denver, Colorado, this year’s theme is Elevate. Applications for travel scholarships to attend are due by September 6. For more information, visi tAISES.org.
The Association on American Indian Affairs began in 1922 as the Eastern Association on Indian Affairs. It was started to help protect the land rights of a group of Pueblo. It became the AAIA in 1946 and awarded its first scholarship in 1948. While they are no longer accepting scholarships for the 2013-2014 school year, it’s never too early to prepare applications for 2014-2015. For more information, visit Indian-Affairs.org.

Indian Country Today Media Networkoffers a convenient list of scholarships for Native students to browse through while they decide where to apply. View the full lis there.

Native students should not just be looking for Native specific scholarships though. As Dr. Dean Chavers, director of Catching the Dream, says there are fewer than 200 Native scholarships listed on the Fastweb database, another good place to look for scholarships as they have more than 1.5 million listed.

“Native scholarships represent less than one-tenth of one percent of all scholarships,” Chavers says in his essayHow to Find and Win Scholarships. “We urge students to find all the scholarships they are eligible for, and apply to them. Scholarships are not all equal.”