Courtesy AMERIND Risk
Cheyanne Fasana, a junior at Oregon State University, wants to teach and further develop an elementary school curriculum about her tribe, the Confederated Tribes of Grande Ronde, she created when she was a high school senior.

Native Education: Part of AMERIND Core Values


While some college students are still figuring out what they want to study, Cheyanne Fasana, a junior at Oregon State University, knows exactly what she wants to do when she graduates. She wants to teach and further develop an elementary school curriculum about her tribe, the Confederated Tribes of Grande Ronde, she created when she was a high school senior.

“When I did an internship in New York (at the American Museum of Natural History) I realized that I had a lot of information about my tribe and I needed to share it,” Fasana, 20, said. “It shocked me so much that people didn’t know, first, I was an Indian, and, second, that Indians were still alive and living. They all don’t look the same and there are many different tribes.”

Fasana is realizing her dream with the help of her tribe, the Northwest Indian Housing Association and New Mexico-based insurance company, AMERIND Risk.

For nearly 20 years, AMERIND has supported Indian education by giving funding to regional housing authorities to support scholarship programs. Since 1998, more than $450,000 has been awarded to hundreds of students living in tribal communities insured by AMERIND.

“As an Indian-owned and operated company, investing in students and Indian education are part of our core values,” AMERIND CEO Derek Valdo said. “AMERIND was created more than 30 years ago to keep Indian money in Indian country and this is a clear example of what can happen when tribes buy from Indian-owned companies that reinvest back into the communities we work for.”

About an average of $5,000 annually is dispersed to each of the five regional housing associations representing the more than 400 individual tribal housing authorities. The regional associations, which have its own scholarship criteria, then award the scholarships through an application process and a judging committee. Some of the associations, such as the Northwest Indian Housing Association, also raise additional funding to help as many students as possible.

“Sometimes we get $5, $10 in the mail with ‘For scholarship program’ on the envelope,” said Joe Diehl, former Northwest Indian Housing Association executive director, adding that some businesses also donate to the fund.

He said the association tries to help all students who apply for the Northwest Indian Housing Association's Youth Scholarship Program. Some applications, however, are missing information or paperwork and are disqualified.

The Northwest association receives between 30 and 40 applications annually and the nonprofit organization tries to award each qualifying student. In 2016, 24 students were awarded $700. The previous year 21 students received $1,000.

Though $700 may not seem much, every little bit helps, say students, especially when the average cost of college tuition and residency is more than $18,000, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, and continues to rise.

The Northwest housing authority scholarship Fasana received for the past two years, combined with other scholarships, has allowed her to concentrate on her studies and graduate in four years instead of five while double majoring in elementary education and human development and family sciences as required by the elementary education program. She’s got a 3.9 GPA now and she doesn’t need to get a part-time job.

“It’s given me the time to pull out the grades I wanted and take the time to focus on the classes that I need to graduate,” she said of her scholarships. Programs like these “are a good incentive, especially for high school students so they can keep their grades up, get scholarships and get a good education.”

In addition to scholarships, AMERIND Risk also hosts an annual safety poster contest. The insurance company sponsors an annual nationwide contest to help educate children and their families living in tribal housing about fire prevention and safety issues to help protect families from injury and loss, in addition, cut down on related claims. Winners from the regional contests move on to the national contest and are eligible for a $1,000.

About AMERIND Risk

AMERIND Risk was founded 30 years ago by more than 400 tribes who united and pooled their resources to create AMERIND Risk to keep money within Indian country.  AMERIND Risk provides employee benefits, and property, liability and workers compensation insurance for tribes, tribal governments, tribal businesses and individual property coverage. It is the only 100 percent, tribally-owned and operated insurance solutions provider in Indian country. In May of 2016, AMERIND launched a new business line AMERIND Critical Infrastructure (ACI), which will help tribes obtain high-speed Internet. To learn more about Tribes Protecting Tribes or for an insurance quote, go to

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Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde
National Center for Education Statistics