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Contact: Dina Horwedel, Director of Public Education, American Indian College Fund, 303-426-8900, dhorwedel@collegefund.org

American Indian College Fund Names 2021-22 Indigenous Visionaries

Four Women Announce Leadership Projects to Impact Tribal Communities

Denver, Colo.—January 13, 2022– Indigenous community leaders create positive change in their communities. The American Indian College Fund is committed to developing women leaders across Indian Country through its Indigenous Visionaries Program in Tribal communities where tribal colleges and universities are located. This year’s College Fund Indigenous Visionaries cohort includes four tribal college student-leaders: Harley-Daniel Interpreter (Navajo) at Diné College, Louise K. Waakaa’igan (Anishinaabe) at Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe College, Sasha Sillitti (Three Affiliated Tribes) at Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College, and ArriAnna Henry (Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, Bitterroot Salish) at Salish Kootenai College.

Harley-Daniel Interpreter (Navajo), an American Indian College Fund Indigenous Visionary and student at Diné College.

Harley-Daniel Interpreter (Navajo) is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in psychology at Diné College on the Navajo Reservation while working as the social media engagement agent in the Office of the President. Interpreter will conduct a voter outreach and education project to expand voter education, to advocate for timely communication about voting, and to ensure support of access to voting across the Navajo Nation during the midterm election. Crystal Cree (Navajo), director of the Office of Legislative Affairs and Policy at Diné College, will serve as mentor.

Louise K. Waakaa’igan (Anishinaabe), an American Indian College Fund Indigenous Visionary and student at Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe College in Hayward, Wisconsin.

Louise K. Waakaa’igan (Anishinaabe) is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in human services at Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe College in Hayward, Wisconsin while working at the college as the advancement coordinator. In collaboration with her mentor, she will create a “Kwe Book,” a history of women leaders and founders at the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe College. Waakaa’igan will catalog their interviews and stories throughout the project for future generations. Faith Smith (Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Ojibwe), a curator for the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe, will serve as mentor.

Sasha Sillitti ((Three Affiliated Tribes- the Mandan (Nueta), Hidatsa, and Arikara (Sahnish)), an American Indian College Fund Indigenous Visionary and student at Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College on the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota.

Sasha Sillitti ((Three Affiliated Tribes- the Mandan (Nueta), Hidatsa, and Arikara (Sahnish)) is a business administration student at Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College on the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota. Sillitti also works as a student account’s counselor and accounts receivable manager at the college. Her project is to develop a recycling program. The Fort Berthold reservation does not have a recycling program and the nearest drop-off for materials is 150 miles away. She will develop a more efficient method of collecting and transporting recyclables, develop community relationships, and increase community awareness about recycling as a form of land stewardship. Pansy Goodall (Arikara of the Fort Berthold Reservation), the Business Faculty Department Chair, will serve as mentor.

ArriAnna Henry (Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, Bitterroot Salish) an American Indian College Fund Indigenous Visionary and student at Salish Kootenai College on the Flathead Indian Reservation in Pablo, Montana.

ArriAnna Henry (Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, Bitterroot Salish) is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in social work and a certification of completion in intensive Salish language at Salish Kootenai College on the Flathead Indian Reservation in Pablo, Montana. She holds an associate degree in chemical dependency counseling and is an intern at the All Nations Health Center, working in the Behavioral Health Department. Henry’s project is the Paddle for Life wellness project. Young adult community members will participate in immersive Salish language lessons while crafting their own cedar canoe paddle to create both cultural and physical wellness. Rosemary Matt (Salish), the Native Language Teacher Education Department Head, will serve as mentor.

Participants in the Indigenous Visionaries Program are chosen based on their project proposals that will impact their community in a positive way. Indigenous Visionaries work closely with a mentor to determine leadership skills that are culturally appropriate and to complete their project. Participants receive a grant of $7,000 to support their project completion and convene with other visionaries and the College Fund team for leadership development and support opportunities.

Cheryl Crazy Bull, President and CEO of the American Indian College Fund, said, “The College Fund is so honored to support Tribal college women students and their mentors as they design and deliver programming that is uniquely place-based and addresses community priorities. Students will practice leadership and management skills and provide critical interventions in areas of special interest including cultural preservation and sustainability. We are excited to learn from their experiences.”

About the American Indian College Fund—The American Indian College Fund has been the nation’s largest charity supporting Native higher education for 32 years. The College Fund believes “Education is the answer” and provided $15.5 million in scholarships and other direct student support to American Indian students in 2020-21. Since its founding in 1989 the College Fund has provided more than $259 million in scholarships, program, and community support. The College Fund also supports a variety of academic and support programs at the nation’s 35 accredited tribal colleges and universities, which are located on or near Indian reservations, ensuring students have the tools to graduate and succeed in their careers. The College Fund consistently receives top ratings from independent charity evaluators and is one of the nation’s top 100 charities named to the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance. For more information about the American Indian College Fund, please visit www.collegefund.org.

Journalists: The American Indian College Fund does not use the acronym AICF. On second reference, please use the College Fund.

Photo 1: Harley-Daniel Interpreter (Navajo), an American Indian College Fund Indigenous Visionary and student at Diné College.

Photo 2: Louise K. Waakaa’igan (Anishinaabe), an American Indian College Fund Indigenous Visionary and student at Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe College in Hayward, Wisconsin.

Photo 3: Sasha Sillitti ((Three Affiliated Tribes- the Mandan (Nueta), Hidatsa, and Arikara (Sahnish)), an American Indian College Fund Indigenous Visionary and student at Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College on the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota.

Photo 4: ArriAnna Henry (Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, Bitterroot Salish) an American Indian College Fund Indigenous Visionary and student at Salish Kootenai College on the Flathead Indian Reservation in Pablo, Montana.

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