Press Release
June 30, 2010

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

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

Washington, D.C. – June 30, 2010 – 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 fifth 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 fifth annual Young Native Writers' Essay Contest are:

    • Ferguson Nez, Navajo from Mesa, Arizona
    • Julian Brave NoiseCat, Shuswap from Oakland, California
    • Myacah Sampson, Navajo from Kirtland, New Mexico
    • Tashina Swalley, Sicangu Lakota from Mission, South Dakota
    • Ashley Vance, Chickasaw from Austin, Texas

"It's such an honor to give all Native American high school students in the U.S. the opportunity to participate in this rewarding contest," said Angela Ruth, executive director of Holland & Knight's Charitable Foundation. "Our hope is that this contest will offer the participants a sense of pride for their heritage."

”It is inspiring to read the thoughts and innovative ideas of young Native people today, who are committed to the betterment of their tribal communities,” said Kevin Gover (Pawnee), director of the National Museum of the American Indian. “Through collaborative efforts with Holland and Knight, we are delighted to once again host the awards ceremony for this group of talented Native youth. We look forward to future opportunities to celebrate the excellence of young Native writers.”

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: a tour of the National Museum of the American Indian, other Smithsonian Museums, the Capitol and other monuments and a meeting with the Native American Embassy. Native American author, Tim Tingle, will also travel with the group and hold a symposium on creative writing for both the students and teachers at the NMAI on July 21. The week-long experience for the winners will take place July 19 – 23.

The winners, accompanied by the teachers who inspired their entries, will also receive a scholarship of $2,500 to be paid to the college or university of their choice and an award to display in their home or school during an honor ceremony that will take place at 10:30 a.m. on July 22 in the Potomac Atrium of the National Museum of the American Indian.

About the Young Native Writer's Essay Contest: The contest debuted in 2006 in Red Lake, Minnesota 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. 

About the Holland & Knight Charitable Foundation: Established as a 501(c)(3) public charity in 1996, the Holland & Knight Charitable Foundation manages and coordinates charitable giving, and directly operates several important programs that support education. It is funded through contributions from the firm, Holland & Knight attorneys and staff, as well as from external sources.

Main Contact: 
Angela Ruth
Holland & Knight Charitable Foundation
(813) 227-6331 or  

Media Contact:
Leonda Levchuk
National Museum of the American Indian
(202) 633-6615 or

Latest News and Headlines