Press Release
July 6, 2009

Holland & Knight Charitable Foundation and National Museum of the American Indian Announce Winners of Young Native Writers' Essay Contest


High School Writing Contest Designed to Inspire Sense of 
Honor and Dignity 
Among Native American High School Students


Washington, D.C. – July 6, 2009- The Holland & Knight Charitable Foundation and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) are pleased to announce the five winners of the fourth annual Young Native Writers' Essay Contest.

The contest, which asked high school students to "Describe a crucial issue confronting your tribal community today. Explain how you hope to help your tribal community respond to this challenge and improve its future," focuses on the richness of Native American life and history and encourages Native American youth to explore their heritage.

The winners of the fourth annual Young Native Writers' Essay Contest are:

      • Robert Boling - Comanche from Hinsdale, Illinois
      • Helena Cross - Mandan Hidatsa from Missoula, Montana
      • Craig Merrick - Northern Cheyenne from Preston, Connecticut
      • Mariah Oney - Navajo from Phoenix, Arizona
      • Kelsey Proctor- Muscogee Creek from Hanna, Oklahoma

“We were pleased to give all Native American high school students throughout the United States the opportunity to participate in this annual contest,” said Angela Ruth, executive director of Holland & Knight’s Charitable Foundation. “It is our hope that the contest offers the writers a sense of pride for their rich heritage and the scholarship helps with their continuing education.”

All finalists receive an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. where they will join Holland & Knight’s Indian Law Practice group for a week of activities that include: an honor ceremony at the National Museum of the American Indian; a tour of the Cultural Resources Center where tribal objects can be viewed and studied; Native American author symposiums for students and their teachers; a tour of the Capitol; and a tour of American University. The week-long experience for the winners will take place July 27th – 30th.

The winners, accompanied by the teachers who inspired their entries, will also receive a scholarship ranging from $1,000 - $5,000 to be paid to the college or university of their choice during a scholarship ceremony that will take place at Holland & Knight's office in Washington, D.C.

“The National Museum of the American Indian is pleased to be involved in the 2009 Young Native Writers' Essay Contest," added Kevin Gover (Pawnee/Comanche), Director of the National Museum of the American Indian. "This writing program truly embodies our mission to support young Native students as they share their personal stories and histories and provides an outlet to be recognized at a national level for their outstanding scholarship.”

“I am pleased that Holland & Knight is encouraging American Indian youngsters to share their thoughts and perspectives,” said Honorable Ben Nighthorse Campbell, a former U.S. Senator and current senior policy advisor with Holland & Knight. “Indian people have made great strides in recent years, but there is still much to overcome. The voices of our youth give us the perspective of tomorrow's leaders, allowing today's leaders the opportunity to look at these issues through fresh eyes.”

About the Young Native Writer’s Essay Contest: The contest debuted in 2006 in Red Lake, Minn. in response to the March 2005 event where a student at Red Lake High School shot five of his fellow students, a teacher, a security guard, members of his family and then himself. The Foundation set up the contest with the hope that the Red Lake community would find healing by promoting its rich culture and traditions.

About the National Museum of the American Indian: The National Museum of the American Indian is committed to advancing knowledge and understanding of the Native cultures of the Western Hemisphere, past, present, and future, through partnership with Native people and others. The museum works to support the continuance of culture, traditional values, and transitions in contemporary Native life.

Related News and Headlines