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NIEA releases 2009 Honor List

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WASHINGTON – The National Indian Education Association will be honoring eight Native individuals and one school who have had a large impact on the world of education during their 40th annual convention to be held in Milwaukee, Wisc., Oct. 22-25. Since 1977, the membership association has honored Native leaders who have changed and improved the lives of their schoolchildren and affected dialog concerning Native education issues, both locally and nationally.

Cheryl Kulas, Oglala Lakota Tribe, retired executive director of Indian Affairs Commission for North Dakota and Angayuqaq Oscar Kawagley, Yupiaq, associate professor of education at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, will be honored with the 2009 NIEA Lifetime Achievement Award.

Elaine Peters, Menominee Indian Tribe, and Joseph Medicine Crow, Crow Nation, will be honored as Elder of the Year. Brent (Ponca/Chickasaw) and Kennetha (Otoe Missouria) Greenwood will be honored as Parents of the Year, Dr. Cornel Pewewardy, Comanche Nation, is the Teacher of the Year and Denise M. Juneau (Mandan/Hidatsa Tribe) is the Educator of the Year.

Since 2005, NIEA has established the Cultural Freedom Award, and award to recognize schools/institutions/organizations whose extraordinary and courageous work celebrates the right to freedom of Native language, culture, and educational excellence. This year, NIEA will recognize the Niigane Ojibwemowin Immersion School of the Bugonaygeshig, in Minnesota, which was founded in 1975.

“Every year, we recognize the importance of leaders who are found in our classrooms, our homes and our communities. This year, has particular importance. The awardees’ contributions have demonstrated the encompassing value of what it is to be a leader, celebrated also in NIEA’s 40 years of advocacy,” said Robert Cook, Oglala Lakota Tribe, who is currently the National Indian Education Association’s president. “They remind us that we must listen to children to improve the future. We must know our communities’ needs, recognize our students’ strengths, and listen to their answers. These remarkable people and this school are true examples of who can see that need and see the hope we have in our Native children, and our belief that students are the foundation on which all successful communities rest. On behalf of NIEA and the board of directors, I praise these awardees for their humble work on behalf of Native students and children.”

NIEA award winners must demonstrate exceptional achievement or performance in providing quality instruction to American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian students.

These individuals and school will be honored at the 2009 NIEA Annual Convention Gala Banquet on Saturday, Oct. 24 at the Midwest Airlines Center with entertainment provided by recording artist Micki Free and awards designed by artist Lorenzo Black Lance. For more information, or tickets to the gala banquet, visit www.niea.org or call (202) 544-7290.