American Indian College Fund’s Tarajean Yazzie-Mintz Honored

May 24th, 2016 | By | Category: Online TC News, Tribal College News, Web Exclusive
By Dina Horwedel
Tarajean Yazzie-Mintz

Tarajean Yazzie-Mintz

The American Indian College Fund’s Tarajean Yazzie-Mintz is the 2016 recipient of the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Alumni Council Award for outstanding contribution. “This award is a beautiful honor, and it is entirely unexpected,” Yazzie-Mintz says. “This powerful recognition is not just for me, but celebrates collective work over time: my work with Native teachers, with tribal colleges, and universities, and with tribal communities. I believe in creating opportunities for change to happen from within Native communities, doing this work with Native communities, not for them.”

Following her graduation from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Yazzie-Mintz spent two years working in the Boston Public Schools before becoming an assistant professor in curriculum and instruction at Indiana University where she worked with the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma. For the past four years she has dedicated her expertise to work with tribal colleges and universities by developing early childhood programs and early learning centers at the American Indian College Fund through its Wakanyeja Sacred Little Ones Early Childhood Education Initiative and the Ké’ Early Childhood Initiative. With these programs, Yazzie-Mintz is helping to develop curriculum based on each community’s unique language, culture, and educational practices.

Yazzie-Mintz is currently the co-director of the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs at the College Fund and a senior program officer for early childhood education initiatives. She has devoted her professional career to improving access to early education for American Indian and Alaska Native children.

Harvard Graduate School of Education alumni council chair Jonathan Steele said, “Tarajean’s work developing the Wakanyeja Sacred Little Ones program and The Ké’ Early Childhood Initiative, both of which embrace and incorporate the culture and heritage of the tribal communities they serve, is remarkable. While she could have continued on her very successful, traditional academic path, she turned away from a tenure-track position to pursue the development of these early learning programs and continues to present original education research about their development and success.”

Cheryl Crazy Bull, president and CEO of the College Fund, stated, “The College Fund is pleased that Tarajean Yazzie-Mintz is being recognized for her amazing contributions to the early childhood education field. Her focus on Native children and their families creates empowering, creative, and joyous experiences, leading her program participants down a path that promises lifelong educational success. Not only does her work matter for our tribal colleges and their students, it matters in the field of early childhood education for all children. All of us at the College Fund and at our tribal colleges congratulate Tarajean and share in her happiness at her receipt of this award.”

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