Department to Showcase Winners' Works From Native American Student Artist Competition

Archived Information

Department to Showcase Winners' Works From Native American Student Artist Competition

July 17, 2009

Tradition is My Life, Education is My Future is this year's theme for the Office of Indian Education's 5th Annual Native American Student Artist Competition. The exhibit, 21 matted and framed art pieces and a book of essays, will open in the Department's lobby on July 21 at 10:30 a.m. with a Native American blessing by Clayton Old Elk of the Crow Nation, and remarks by Department and Smithsonian Institution officials as well as by student winners in art and writing.

The competition celebrates the value and successes of education in Native American communities and is open to all American Indian and Alaska Native students in prekindergarten through grade 12. First-place winners in the 6th- through 8th-grade and the 11th- through 12th-grade categories will speak at the exhibit opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony. Macklin Becenti, a high school junior from the Navajo tribe, and Paige Fourkiller, a seventh-grader from the Cherokee tribe, will present their artwork, and Angela Pacheco, a senior from the Santo Domingo Pueblo, will present her winning essay.

The Department's Office of Indian Education produces the competition with the goal of inspiring students to explore the connection between their education and culture through art and writing.

Over the course of the next year, the exhibit will be displayed at several other venues, including the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, the Oklahoma History Center, Chicago Children's Museum, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. More information about the exhibit and past and future competitions can be found at The names of the winners are attached.

To visit the exhibit and for more information about the Department's Student Art Exhibit Program, now in its sixth year, contact Jackye Zimmermann at 202-401-0762 or at

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2009 Artist Winners


1st Place: "Learning for All Children" by Mia Allen (Cherokee)
2nd Place: "I am Bear Clan" by Gavin French (Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians)
3rd Place: "My Love" by Amber Roy (Northern Paiute/M'Chigeeng Ojibwe)

Grades K-2

1st Place: "Tradition Guides My Future" by Aubrey Brown (Cherokee), 2nd grade
2nd Place: "Moving Tradition Toward Education" by Kinley Soap (Cherokee), Kindergarten
3rd Place: "Believing in Myself" by Sonja Mendoza (Gila River Indian Community), 1st grade

Grades 3-5

1st Place: "The Quilt of Traditions" by Caleb Williamson (Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians), 3rd grade
2nd Place: Untitled by Lara Yazzie (Navajo), 5th grade
3rd Place: "Traditional Culture" by Candace Jefferson (Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians), 4th grade

Grades 6-8

1st Place: "Catching My Dreams Through Education" by Paige Fourkiller (Cherokee), 7th grade
2nd Place: "Education Tree" by Sabre Billie (Seminole Tribe of Florida), 6th grade
3rd Place: Untitled by Uyvaya Lomakema (Hopi), 8th grade

Grades 9-10

1st Place: "Earth's Classroom" by Santana Shorty (Navajo), 10th grade
2nd Place: Untitled by Coleman Stevens (Oneida Indian Nation), 9th grade
3rd Place: "Student" by Kayla Soares (United Houma Nation), 9th grade

Grades 11-12

1st Place: Untitled by Macklin Becenti (Navajo), 11th grade
2nd Place: "Student" by Michelle Zahgotah (White Mountain Apache Tribe), 12th grade
3rd Place: "Vision of Life" by Otis Rustin (San Carlos Apache/Jemez Pueblo), 12th grade

Honorable Mention

"Education in Two Worlds" by Jalen Kemble (Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma), 9th grade
"Tradition is My Life/Education is My Future" by Anna Muselmann (Cherokee), 11th grade
"Student" by Reyberta Kessay (White Mountain Apache Tribe), 12th grade  

2009 Writing Winners

Grades 6-8

1st Place: "Ways of Life" by Evan Baca (San Juan Pueblo), 7th grade
2nd Place: "Tradition is My Life, Education is My Future" by Mariah Coffee (Warm Springs), 8th grade
3rd Place: "The Pueblo Ways" by Ashley Salter (San Juan Pueblo), 7th grade

Grades 9-10

1st Place: "Voices to Remember" by Daphne Coriz (Santo Domingo Pueblo), 10th grade
2nd Place: "Old Lessons for New Horizons" by Sean LittleCook (Ponca), 9th grade
3rd Place: "My Sacred Bowl of Traditions" by Kinsley Candelaria (San Felipe), 10th grade

Grades 11-12

1st Place: "Multicultural Learning" by Angela Pacheco (Santo Domingo Pueblo), 12th grade
2nd Place: Untitled by RedHorse Blackelk Jim (Navajo/Lakota), 11th grade
3rd Place: "Tradition is My Life, Education is My Future" by Zack Ellison (Cherokee/Osage), 11th grade