Cobell Lawsuit & Settlement | Education | National

Cobell scholarship board chooses new entity to administer funds

Cobell scholarship recipients include April Davis, the first person in her family to attend college, and K. Sanderson, who works full-time as a fire captain while pursuing his studies. Photos form Cobell Scholarship Fund

The board of trustees overseeing the Cobell scholarships has selected a new entity to administer the growing fund.

Indigenous Education is a non-profit based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Melvin Monette (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians) serves as president and executive director and Bridget Ann Neconie (Acoma Pueblo) serves as director of scholarships.

The organization steps in after the first round of scholarships went out to Indian students. According to a press release, almost $2 million was awarded to nearly 400 graduates and undergraduates. A chart offers more details about recipients and the institutions they attend.

"I am graduating in May from Humboldt State University with a Bachelor Degree in Social Work," recipient April Davis said on the Cobell scholarship website. "I am very thankful for all the support received from the Cobell Scholarship while obtaining my degree."

"I will be graduating Summa Cum Laude this semester from Arizona State University with a BS in Public Service and Public Policy w/ an emphasis in American Indian Studies and obtaining a certificate for Leadership and Ethics from the college of Public Service and Community Solutions," recipient K. Sanderson stated.

The American Indian Graduate Center, another New Mexico non-profit, had handled the first round but the relationship with the Cobell scholarship board recently came to an end.

The scholarship is seeded with proceeds from the Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations, which was authorized by the Cobell trust fund settlement. A portion of every purchase goes into the fund as Indian landowners are paid for their fractional interests, which are then returned to tribal governments.

The settlement allows up to $60 million to be set aside for scholarships. But the board of trustees managing the fund in a manner that will keep the program going for as long as possible.

As of January, the Interior Department had deposited $35 million into the fund.

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