CABAZON, CA – Four Native American students in California have each received a $10,000 scholarship from the Morongo Band of Mission Indians near Palm Springs through the tribe’s 18th Annual Rodney T. Mathews Jr. Scholarship Program.
Since its launch, Morongo’s initiative has provided $590,000 in scholarships to 58 Native American students attending universities across the country. These scholarships are only accessible to enrolled members of the 109 federally recognized tribes in California.
“Morongo’s Rodney T. Mathews Jr. Scholarship program seeks to reverse the trends that have left Native Americans as the most underrepresented group in colleges and universities,” said Morongo Tribal Chairman Charles Martin. “This year’s recipients will be the tribal leaders of tomorrow and we are honored to help support their educational journey as they work to strengthen tribal communities for future generations.”
The 2023 recipients are:
William Feather of the Round Valley Indian Tribe, is working on his Educational Doctorate in Organizational Leadership at Chaminade University. He is focusing on enhancing education services for Native American students in K-12 and correctional education systems. Feather simultaneously serves as the Special Education-Mental Health Counselor at the Ukiah Unified School District, Special Education Department. He also serves as the Tribal Cultural Coach for Mendocino County Child Welfare Services, a Disabilities Contractor with the California Tribal Families Coalition and a professional academic coach for Cal Poly Humboldt, Department of Social Work. He plans to continue championing tribal students in educational systems, while working towards creating educational pathways for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated tribal people.
“Words cannot express my gratitude for the Morongo Tribe,” said Feather. “As I think of all the sacrifices throughout my educational journey… It’s been lonely, as I am often the only tribal person in classes navigating hard conversations. In the spirit of the Rodney T. Matthews scholarship, I am blessed. Today, I will walk taller knowing the Morongo Band of Mission Indians has supported me in my educational journey.”
Sasheen Shailee Colegrove Raymond of the Hoopa Valley Tribe, is working towards her PhD in Global Leadership and Change at Pepperdine University. She is the Director of the Indian Tribal and Educational Personnel Program at Cal Poly Humboldt and her education is contributing to her ability to develop leadership and efficacy of Native students so that they may contribute to Indian Country. She also helps Native American students navigate the educational system and cultivates relationships with local tribal agencies to increase internship placements. Through her studies, she plans to continue her research and data collection to assist tribal communities and inform policy decisions. After graduation, Raymond plans on giving back to her tribal community by working with higher education institutions and students to increasing higher education retention rates among Native Americans to break down the barriers of entry of underrepresented students.
“As a tribal member, having another tribal community supporting me through my educational endeavors is an amazing thing,” said Raymond. “I am grateful to the Morongo Band of Mission Indians for helping my vision come to life. I hope they know that if they ever need anything, I will be honored to help in any capacity.”
Winnifred Carpenter of the Hoopa Valley Tribe, returned to Cal Poly Humboldt to pursue a master’s in education with a focus on secondary education. She previously graduated from Humboldt in 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and a minor in Native American studies. She is working to enhance local education by incorporating transformative teaching practices at the community college and high school level. Carpenter is determined to honor the Mathew’s Scholarship’s legacy by making a positive impact to support Indigenous youth pursuing higher education.
“The Morongo Band of Mission Indians has been very generous in supporting Indigenous education endeavors and I am very hopeful for the next generation of future leaders that have the support from their fellow Native nations,” said Carpenter. “Ts’ediyah (thank you).”
Sage Innerarity of the Ione Band of Miwok Indians of California, is a first-year graduate student at Simmons University in Boston where she is pursuing a master’s degree in library and information science with a focus on cultural heritage. She earned undergraduate degrees in English and American studies with a specialization in Native American studies from Amherst College, where she actively engaged with the Native and Indigenous Student Association. As a Post Baccalaureate Fellow at the Robert Frost Library, she interacted with tribal communities linked to authors and books in the Kim-Wait Eisenberg (KWE) Native American Literature Collection. Innerarity provided guidance to these communities on presentation and utilization of works within the college, curated library exhibitions, and contributed to KWE’s collection policies. Innerarity plans to return to California after college to the Miwok Heritage Center where she hopes to establish a comprehensive archive of oral interviews, videos, and photographs that meticulously document tribal history in an organized, accessible manner for all tribe members.
“When I found out about this opportunity, I thought it was an incredible opportunity offered solely for California Natives,” said Innerarity. “I am grateful to Morongo because this scholarship is making it accessible for me to attend grad school and continue my education to help my tribal community in the future.”
The Morongo scholarship program honors the late Rodney T. Mathews Jr., a Morongo tribal member and Hastings Law School graduate who passed away in 2004. He worked as an attorney for 20 years before serving as a judge pro tem for more than a decade.
His mother, Eunice Mathews, said the scholarship program recognizes the life of her son and his enduring commitment to equity and education. “We are so proud of all that Rodney accomplished and are touched by how the Mathews Scholarship continues to honor his legacy.”
Scholarship applicants are considered based on their academic success and community service. Candidates must be full-time students at an accredited college or university, complete 60 hours with a designated California Indian agency, and be actively involved in the Native American community.