People in the News

Feb 15th, 2009 | By | Category: 20-3: Tribal Athletes Fight for Their Place, Tribal College News
  • Rhonda LeValdo (Acoma Pueblo), a graduate student in journalism at the University of Kansas and a teacher at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, KS, was one of 10 semifinalists in a YouTube competition that encourages aspiring journalists to tell stories that may not be told in traditional media. LeValdo profiled her maternal grandmother, Rachel Blackwater. In her video, LeValdo explains that her Red Corn clan of the Acoma Pueblo is a matrilineal society, and she hopes to pass her grandmother’s values to her own daughter. Blackwater talks about her childhood and expresses her belief that in today’s world, one of her grandchildren could become president of the United States. During spring 2008, LeValdo received a $10,000 National Minority Consortia fellowship to help increase minority coverage. She produced three stories for the Jim Lerher News Hour on PBS website: federal education funding, Indian Health Service funding, and Native American delegates at the Democratic National Convention. To see her stories, search for her name on www.pbs.org. LeValdo teaches TV production at Haskell (see TCJ, Vol. 20, No. 1). She also produces Native Spirit, a weekly radio show on KKFI, a community radio station in Kansas City, MO. For more about YouTube Project: Report, visit www.youtube.com/projectreport.
  • The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) named David M. Gipp as its 2008 North Dakota Champion of Liberty. Gipp is president of United Tribes Technical College (UTTC, Bismarck, ND). He is being recognized for his lifetime of work in the area of racial justice.  He was a founding member and first president of the University of North Dakota Indian Association. He has served on the board of the National Indian Education Association. He is a past executive director, past president, and current board member of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium; past chair and current board member of the American Indian College Fund; and current chair of the Indians Into Medicine Advisory Council at the University of North Dakota. He currently serves on the Native Nations Institute policy advisory board at the University of Arizona, and the Harvard Honoring Nations Board of Governors. “President Gipp has been a powerful voice for racial justice and advancement through education throughout his long career,” says Jennifer Ring, executive director of the ACLU of North Dakota.
  • Cherry Davidson (Comanche), of Walters, OK, a freshman at Comanche Nation College (CNC, Lawton, OK)  is the recipient of an American Indian College Fund scholarship for $2000. The award was made through the generosity of the National Indian Gaming Association funding to the American Indian College Fund and earmarked for Sovereignty Scholars at tribal colleges. Davidson, a scholastic achiever, presented her short play “The Exchange” at the Annual CNC Awards Banquet. She is an independent, fulltime student in Comanche Cultural Studies.
  • Kevin Killer (Oglala Lakota), a student at Oglala Lakota College (OLC, Kyle, SD), was elected to the South Dakota State Legislature last fall. He represents District 27 and resides in Pine Ridge, SD. Prior to his state win, Killer was elected as student board member for the National Indian Education Association (NIEA) at its annual convention in Seattle, WA. He was also selected to be the NIEA board treasurer. He is majoring in business administration and political science. He currently serves as the student senate president and as the student representative on the board of trustees for OLC. Killer was the first-ever president of the fellowship network for Young People For, a nationwide People For the American Way Foundation program that supports leadership development through internships and social justice projects. He is also a trainer with Wellstone Action’s Native American Leadership program and Campus Camp Wellstone, which trains students in the community organizing philosophy of the late U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone.
  • Robert Cook (Oglala Lakota) is the new National Indian Education Association (NIEA) board president. Cook earned his Master’s Degree in Education Administration from Oglala Lakota College and now serves as the Cultural Affairs /Education Outreach Specialist at Crazy Horse Memorial. Cook is married to Daphne Richards-Cook (Oglala) and together they have two sons; Lamont and Caleb. He has eighteen years of teaching and administrative experience in American Indian education.
  • Brandon Stevens (Oneida), 2004 alumnus of United Tribes Technical College (UTTC, Bismarck, ND), was elected to the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin Council. Stevens assisted at a UTTC fundraiser held in New York City in October 2008 by presenting $500 contributed by the Smokey Robinson Foundation and $5,000 contributed by the National Indian Gaming Association.
  • Danny Lopez (Tohono O’odham) passed on Oct. 21, 2008 at age 71. He taught the O’odham language and culture at Tohono O’odham Community College (TOCC, Sells, AZ). Lopez is survived by his wife, Florence, and their three children: Monica, Michael, and Mark. A college press release indicated that Lopez made significant contributions to the development of Tohono O’odham Community College. He chaired and actively served on the college’s Him:dag Committee for several years. He counseled students and mentored faculty and staff. He served as co-chair of TOCC’s internal development campaign, part of the college’s overall capital campaign to raise funds for a permanent main campus and a satellite campus. He was the TOCC Faculty Senate vice chair for two years, and he inspired his colleagues with his continued learning and participation in the community. TOCC President Olivia Vanegas-Funcheon said, “We remember Danny Lopez as a singer, storyteller, historian, spiritual leader, song writer, and educator. But most of all, he was a wonderful person who taught us all by example what it means to care for others.”
  • Erik Anderson, a reading and computer instructor at Tohono O’odham Community College, passed away in October 2008. Anderson was one of the five full-time faculty members originally hired when TOCC opened in 2000. He received the Faculty of the Year Award at TOCC’s Commencement in May 2008. TOCC President Olivia Vanegas-Funcheon said, “Erik was always thinking of ways to involve students and faculty in the growth of the college. He started an annual event called Assessment Daze in which students voluntarily wrote about their learning. He taught all of us by example about the meaning of collaboration.” On his own initiative, Anderson developed an on-line database of TOCC courses, which can be searched for topics such as “critical thinking” and “problem-solving” in the curriculum. This data can be used for assessment and curriculum development.
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