Native students selected for prestigious internships in nation's capital

A dozen students representing 9 tribes and 11 universities have been selected for a prestigious internship program in Washington, D.C.

The Udall Foundation and the Native Nations Institute announced the 2018 class of Native American Congressional Interns this week. Participants will spend an "intensive" nine weeks in the nation's capital this summer, meeting with key decision-makers and learning about Indian law and policy while working for members of Congress and federal agencies.

"Washington, D.C., is at the hub of Indian law and policy; the Udall Internship gave me an incredible network of young Indian professionals," Jordan Thompson, a past participant from the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, said on the program's website.

From left: Shandiin H. Herrera, Grant R. Two Bulls and Allison M. Jordan are among the participants in The Udall Foundation Native American Congressional Internship Program. Photos: The Udall Foundation

The 2018 class members and their designated, or pending, internship spots are:
• Darrah Blackwater, Navajo Nation, interning with the Department of the Interior, Office of the Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Indian Affairs
• Chloe Elm, Tonawanda Band of Seneca Indians of New York, interning with the Department of Justice, Office of Tribal Justice
• Terance Fields, Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma, interning in the office of Representative Don Young
• Ravyn Gibbs, Bois Forte Band (Nett Lake) of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, interning with the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (pending)
• Shandiin Herrera, Navajo Nation, interning in the office of Senator Tom Udall
• Allison Jordan, Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, interning with the Department of Justice, Community Relations Office (pending)
• Ariana Romeo, Tohono O’odham Nation of Arizona, interning in the office of Representative Raùl Grijalva • Natalia Sells, Navajo Nation, interning in the office of Senator John McCain
• Krystian Sisson, Muscogee (Creek) Nation, interning in the office of Representative Norma Torres • Chelsi Tsosie, Navajo Nation, interning in the office of Representative Derek Kilmer
• Grant Two Bulls, Oglala Sioux Tribe of the Pine Ridge Reservation, interning in the office of Senator Heidi Heitkamp
• Amerra Webster-Yaqui, Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation, interning in the office of Senator Jon Tester (pending)

Since 1996, the program has sent 267 Native students, representing 120 tribes, to D.C. Prominent alumni include Bryan Newland, a former Obama administration appointee who now serves as chairman of his tribe, the Bay Mills Indian Community, and Ponka-We Victors, a citizen of the Tohono O’odham Nation who was the first Native woman elected to the Kansas Legislature.

"The Udall Internship changed everything for me. If someone is thinking they don’t need to know what’s happening in Washington, D.C., I would tell anyone to rethink that," Victors says on the program's website.

The Udall Foundation was established by Congress in 1992 as an independent executive branch agency to honor and carry on the legacy of the late Morris "Mo" K. Udall. As a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Arizona, he championed the rights and self-governance of the first Americans.

The Native American Congressional Internship program is funded and co-administered by the Native Nations Institute at the University of Arizona.

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