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President Obama to Honor Two Native Women as Champions of Change

Two Native women will be honored by President Barack Obama at the White House September 15 for raising awareness of Native issues in higher education.
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President Barack Obama will honor two Native women as Champions of Change on Tuesday September 15, in a ceremony that will be broadcast live online.

Photo: Courtesy of The White House

Ashley McCray

Ashley McCray, Oglala and Sicangu Lakota and Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma; and Amanda Tachine, Navajo from Ganado, Arizona and Náneesht’ézhí Táchii’nii (Zuni Red Running into Water clan) born for Tl’izilani (Many Goats clan), are among 11 honorees, each of whom are making singular contributions to their communities.

McCray, of Norman, Oklahoma, is a Ph.D. student in the History of Science, Technology and Medicine program at the University of Oklahoma, the White House said in a statement. Her specialty is indigenous knowledge; environment and public health in minority communities; race, and science, and the Native experience in the university. She also works as the archivist for her Absentee Shawnee Tribe.

“Ashley works to ensure her university incorporates inclusivity and diversity in its curriculum,” said the White House in a statement about what got her the award. “Her work on her own campus has helped inspire a mandatory diversity course for incoming students, and a series of diversity and inclusivity workshops facilitated throughout the school year for faculty, students, and staff.”

She has also worked to combat racism by promoting dialogue.

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Photo: Courtesy of The White House

Amanda Tachine

Tachine is Navajo from Ganado, Arizona, and lives in Tucson. She is Náneesht’ézhí Táchii’nii (Zuni Red Running into Water clan) born for Tl’izilani (Many Goats clan), according to her White House bio. Her maternal grandfather’s clan is Tábaahí (Water’s Edge) and her paternal grandfather’s clan is Ashiihi (Salt). Tachine’s achievement has been to lead “efforts in a dynamic two-tiered college access mentoring program, Native SOAR (Student Outreach, Access and Resiliency) where Native American graduate students and staff mentor underrepresented, mostly Native American college students who also in turn provide mentorship to Native American high school students,” the White House said of Tachine, who earned a Ph.D. in Higher Education at the University of Arizona and is a Postdoctoral Scholar at the Center for Indian Education at Arizona State University, “where she hopes to continue advancing ideas and strategies for Native student success.”

The event’s aim is to not only honor these women but also to inspire others, according to the President’s office.

“In addition to honoring these young people for their courage and contributions, the goal of the event is to inspire girls and young women to recognize their potential for leadership—as educators, advocates, peer-mentors, artists and entrepreneurs—and to appreciate that they can be leaders in their own way and in their own style,” said the White House in its statement.

The events will be livestreamed on the Web starting at 9:30 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time.