AIS: College Scholarships for Native Americans

ais_logoLast month, I attended a great education charity event for American Indian Services. AIS is a non-profit organization that has provided thousands of college scholarships for almost 100 different Indian tribes.

It was an inspiring event. They shared stories about how AIS got started, and how an opportunity for education has changed the lives of so many people. They highlighted a few success stories, one that stands out above the rest is the story of Larry EchoHawk.

larry_echohawkA member of the pawnee tribe, he was one of American Indian Service’s first scholarship recipients. He has certainly come a long way since then. He currently serves under President Barack Obama as head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. He was also the first Native American to ever serve as Attorney General.

Here’s a quick view at his impressive rise through education:

  1. 1970 – Received a Bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University. Attended with a football scholarship in addition to his AIS scholarship.
  2. 1973 – Received a Juris Doctor from the University of Utah.
  3. 1982 – Elected to the House of Representatives for Idaho
  4. 1990 – Elected Attorney General of Idaho
  5. 1994 – Began teaching law at BYU
  6. 2009 – Called by Barack Obama to serve as head of the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs

It was amazing to hear the other stories as well, of how a college education had dramatically improved the lives of the scholarship recipients. It made me appreciate my own education more. The best part was when they asked a few of the recent recipients to come up, and talk about what the scholarships meant for them, and how it would improve their life.

After their presentation, we got to hear a live performance by Alison Krauss and the Dan Tyminski Band (the guys that did the music for “O Brother Where Are Thou”). All told, it was the most inspiring and entertaining night out I’ve had a while. Thank you, AIS!

If you’re interested in learning more about AIS or how you can help check out www.americanindianservices.org.

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