Two graduate from UA American Indian studies program

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Professor, former program director also honored

TUCSON, Ariz. - On May 15, two students earned their doctorate in philosophy from the University of Arizona American Indian studies program.

Sharon Milholand is one of those who completed the degree requirements. Her dissertation is titled ''Native Voices and Native Values in Sacred Landscape Management: Bridging the Indigenous Values Gap on Public Lands Through Co-Management Policy.'' Her dissertation has practical applications for the Navajo Nation's Leupp and Chinle chapters in their entering into a co-management agreement with National Park Service at Canyon de Chelly National Monument. Her topic encompassed federal Indian law, critical theory, nation building and Native concepts of land.

Professor Jay Stauss, Jamestown S'Klallam, commented on Milholand's success at UA AISP.

''She had already come to us a well-groomed professional, she was well-prepared to work along with the Navajo Nation for this project, and she will also work on the implementation of a co-management policy.''

''Credit my dissertation to several people,'' Milholand said. ''The faculty and staff of UA AISP, those with whom I worked at the National Park Service, and I am especially thankful for the help, input and support of the Navajo Nation. They helped me put together a good project, and I hope to contribute to the Navajo Nation when they implement our project.''

Billy Stratton also completed his degree requirements. His dissertation is titled ''(Re)Inscribing King Philip's War: Mary Rowlandson and the Advent of the Indian Captivity Narrative.'' It is a reinterpretation of an Indian captivity narrative of a white woman who was captured by Indians in the 17th century.

Stratton's chair professor, Franci Washburn, Lakota, commented on the dissertation.

''Before, this narrative had been from a white perspective, but he [Stratton] wanted to tell the story from an Indian perspective. He has truly given an Indian perspective of Indian relations during King Philip's time.''

Stratton was also awarded the UA AIS Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant Award for the 2007 - 08 year. Washburn presented the award and added, ''We both came from extremely poor backgrounds. I grew up on the Pine Ridge reservation and was poor all my life. Billy had a similar situation growing up in a ravaged area of Kentucky. He had a difficult life, but worked very hard, and he has now completed school and earned this deserving award.''

''It's been a long journey,'' Stratton said. ''I'd like to thank everyone at American Indian studies, my mentor and friend Francis Washburn, my parents and ancestors. I'd like to especially thank my daughter, and all children of the world: they are the hope and the future of humanity.''

The 2008 UA American Indian studies convocation included a special recognition of Stauss. Stauss, a former director of UA AISP, will be retiring from his tenure track position.

''I am so grateful to have experienced so much with the good people here at UA,'' he said. ''I have been here at the UA since 1972 and had a wonderful time.''

Professor Tom Holm, Cherokee, was honored with the UA AISP Lifetime Achievement Award. He will be retiring as well.

''I've been here at the UA since 1980,'' he said. ''I've watched many good people complete degrees and pursue their academic careers. For a long time I promoted academics for Indian students; after experiencing everything that I had, I now promote law school. I'm finishing a career that I've loved, and I'm grateful for this Lifetime Achievement Award.''

The UA AISP also acknowledged the recent passing of Hopi scholar, linguist, elder and former AIS Director Emory Sekaquaptewa. He was an important figure in the creation of Hopi literacy programs on the Hopi reservation.

He also compiled and wrote a 900-page Hopi dictionary. Sekaquaptewa was the chair for several AIS Ph.D. graduates, including 2007 Ph.D. graduate Sheilah Nicholas, Hopi. Her dissertation, ''Becoming Fully Hopi: The Role of the Hopi Language Shift and Vitality,'' explored the impact of language on Hopi identity.

Currently there are 29 Ph.D. and 13 M.A. students enrolled at the UA AISP. The program had graduated a total of 247 students, including 16 Ph.D. students. The UA American Indian studies program offers Master of Arts degrees, a joint Juris Doctor and Master of Arts in American Indian studies, and a Doctor of Philosophy, as well as an undergraduate minor in AIS.

This year, the University of Arizona graduated nearly 300 Native students. The UA Native American Student Affairs held an annual convocation for all Native graduates to attend. A total of 53 Native graduates were there, including all undergraduates, several masters and Ph.D. graduates, two graduates from the UA College of Law and one from the UA College of Medicine.