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Native Tribal Scholars Program Hopes to Increase Graduation Rate

Native Tribal Scholars program aims to get Native American students through high school and on to college.
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A group of 38 tribal teens spent six weeks over the summer at Regis College, in Weston, Massachusetts instead of relaxing or going to summer school.

The first year of the Native Tribal Scholars program recently came to a close. Funded by a four-year $1.2 million federal grant, if it’s successful it could become permanent. Students learned about things not taught in typical high school classes—like tribal sovereignty and Native American history.

Lead instructor Josh Reid, who is also a history professor at UMass Boston, described one assignment in which students wrote a report on a book with a Native American protagonist, and another had them making posters to teach them about tribal sovereignty. They used magazine cutouts to identify words they felt best represented themselves and wrote an essay on how those traits could be used for the greater good.

“This is native-centric. So right off the bat you are feeling good because you are with other native children. You are comfortable. You fit in. And that knocks down a lot of the barrier challenges,” Cedric Cromwell, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council chairman, told “This program was formed by Native Americans for Native Americans.”

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He pointed to the tribe’s high school graduation rate of only 48 percent as evidence that the Native Tribal Scholars program is needed. According to, 95 percent of the participants this year were from the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe.