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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


August 10, 2002 - Issue 67


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Navajo Nation Awards Students Chief Manuelito Scholarships

by Jim Snyder Farmington Daily Times
credits: Manuelito, photographed in 1874.

FARMINGTON The Navajo Nation presented 64 Navajo youths each with a $7,000 college scholarship during its 2002 Chief Manuelito Awards Ceremony held Friday at the Courtyard Marriott. This is the 22nd year the scholarships have been awarded.

Graduating high school seniors had to maintain a grade point average of 3.0 or a B, or have scored 21 or higher on the ACT exam in order to apply for the award. They also had to take a Navajo language and Navajo government class.

The students, who must be at least one-quarter Navajo, can apply each year as long as they maintain a 3.0 average with 12 college-credit courses each semester, for an additional $7,000 scholarship.

"A lot of our students are going to colleges across the United States," said Tina John, director of the Shiprock Office of the Navajo Nation Scholarship and Financial Assistance office, which hosted the event this year.

"We see them as ambassadors of the Navajo Nation."

The award is significant for the Navajo youths and comes with a medallion depicting Chief Manuelito, who was born in the Chuska Mountains in 1818. He successfully evaded the U.S. Army in the mid-1860s when they were rounding up Navajos and destroying their homes, livestock and crops. Eventually, Manuelito was forced to surrender at Ft. Wingate for the sake of women and children.

He endured the Long Walk and later was one of the signers of the June 1, 1868, treaty with the United States. Then he led his people back home.

"The day before we were to start we went a little way toward home, because we were so anxious to start ... when we saw the top of the mountain from Albuquerque we wondered if it was our mountain, and we felt like talking to the ground, we loved it so, and some of the old men and women cried with joy when they reached their homes," said Manuelito.

"My God and my mother live in the West, and I will not leave them," Manuelito said.

Manuelito, of the Bit'aa'nii Clan, lived until 1893.

He is reported to also have said "... my grandchild, education is the ladder. Tell our people to take it."

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