May 15, 2019
SACRAMENTO, CA (May 15, 2019) – Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, an American Indian tribe located in Yolo County, recently donated $750,000 to Sacramento State’s Native American Studies program, in order to provide scholarship opportunities for students.
Annette Reed, professor and director of Native American Studies at Sac State, said that the money will go toward the program and students who are enrolled in at least one Native American course throughout the academic year.
“In addition to supporting the students, I believe that Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation also would like to educate people more about California Natives and Native American people in general, by encouraging students to take Native American Studies courses,” Reed said in an email to The State Hornet.
Reed said Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation and the Native American Studies program at Sac State have maintained an exceptional relationship over the years and that the program has been receiving donations from the tribal nation beginning shortly after 2001.
The program, along with the entire Ethnic Studies department at Sac State, will be celebrating its 50-year anniversary on campus next fall.
Because of the rising cost of tuition fees, rent and other financial burdens for students across the state, Reed stated that she wanted to help students on their path to graduation and recently reached out to the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation tribal council for assistance. She said that they recognized the need and decided to make the $750,000 donation.
Reed said that the tribe has gifted over $1,000,000 to Sac State’s Native American program in the last two decades.
In previous years, the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation Native American Studies scholarships have been worth approximately $1,000 each and awarded to four or five students every fall semester, according to Reed.
However, with the addition of this donation, Reed said that the school can now start awarding a minimum of $2,000 in scholarships to students.
Reed said that she is grateful to the tribal nation because they have been such kind donors to the program over the past two decades.
“First of all, I feel it is very generous and it demonstrates outstanding leadership within the community and the foresight to educate Sac State students about important issues,” Reed said. “I see our students on campus and I feel good that there is a Nation that recognizes and demonstrates good leadership by seeking to create leaders.”
Megan Ingram, a communications sciences and disorders major and Native American Studies minor, said she is excited at the prospects of the endowment.
“It is amazing to be supported as students from a local tribal nation,” Ingram said. “It is incredibly helpful and hopefully we can use some of it to increase our Native American resources.”
As a recipient of the scholarship, Ingram hopes that these scholarships provide an incentive for students to want to take more of these classes and learn more about Native American cultures.
“It is the actual history of our nation,” Ingram said. “They are the indigenous people here so understanding their history and their culture should be a priority and unfortunately it is something that is hardly even taught.”
Tribal Council Chairmen of Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation Anthony Roberts said the tribe firmly believes that education is important for a successful future and wants all students, but specifically Native American students, be educated in the cultures of American Indians.
“Education is the bedrock of our future, a future that rests with our youth and children,” Roberts said in an email. “Only through learning can we understand what has gone before us and share ideas and avenues for continuing the journey forward.”
Roberts said he is enthusiastic about the work being done at Sac State and the future of the Native American program.
“We want to support young Hornets as they seek to grow, expand their horizons and become part of our next generation of leaders,” Roberts said.
Reed said that it is important for students to learn about Native American peoples and cultures because there are a lot of misconceptions about contemporary Native Americans.
“Unfortunately, a lot of what people think about Native American people they get from movies which could be Hollywood’s version of who native people are.”
When asked to elaborate on what she meant by Hollywood’s version of native people Reed clarified her response.
“That all (American) Indians live in the past,” Reed said. “That all native people live in teepees and have headbands and somehow people don’t think about native people wearing contemporary clothing like everybody else. They go into jobs like everybody else. They go through education. Some of them continue their traditions and culture, some people don’t.”
Reed went on to say that she thinks it is important for people, particularly Native Americans, to remember their ancestry and to learn about these contemporary issues.
Ingram said she hopes that these scholarships can bring about a greater awareness to Native American culture and believes that understanding and accepting different cultures is essential in this day and age.
“Just a basic cultural awareness is very important,” Ingram said. “You are not going to make it through your life without interacting with people from different cultures.”