Chandler named Educator of the Year

Aug 15th, 2012 | By | Category: 24-1: Communicating Yesterday's Stories Today, Tribal College News
By Rebecca Bishop

Dr. Lynette Chandler, Bi-dah-tha “Dancing Woman” (member of the Aaniiih and of Nakoda descent) and Director of the White Clay Language Immersion School (WCLIS) accepted the Montana Indian Education Association (MIEA) “Educator of the Year” Award for 2012. This award is for individuals who have demonstrated exemplary leadership in Indian education, are outstanding in their work, and have contributed to the betterment of Indian education.

WCLIS is under the umbrella of the Aaniiih Nakoda College and is a private school on campus.

Tracy King, Fort Belknap Indian Community chairman, surprised Dr. Chandler with a star quilt and stated the Fort Belknap Community Council passed a resolution in honor of her accomplishments. From now on, May 7 is “Dr. Lynette Chandler Day.”

Carol C. Juneau, a Democratic member of the Montana Senate representing District 8 since 2007, introduced Chandler to the packed room. It was estimated that 51 of Chandler’s family members were there to support her.

Speaking of “interconnectedness,” Chandler said: “We should all come together because we are all working toward the same thing: helping our Native people of all ages better their lives through education. It doesn’t matter which tribe you come from, public school, private school, language immersion school, off the reservation school, on the reservation school, K-12, higher ed, tribal college, or university. We need to be interconnected to move forward, to do positive things, and embrace our ancestors ‘ways of being.’” She added that Native people have adopted the assimilationist mentality of “Divide and Conquer” and still practice it today. “This was a strategy used by non-Native people to have us fight amongst ourselves, to do their work for them, to pull each other down, to hold each other down and this needs to stop NOW! We need to practice interconnectedness!” she said. “Let’s embrace this together!”

To the students, she said: “I believe in you! The hundreds of people in this room believe in you! Something led you here to MIEA to be among people who will lift you up, stand behind you, and support you. You are never alone; there are people, higher powers, and spirits behind you guiding you here today to be among us in this education realm.”

Chandler earned her doctorate from the School of Education and Human Sciences at the University of Montana in 2011. She is a Mellon Fellow from the American Indian College Fund.

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