In 2018, SweetGrass Trading Company, a member of Ho-Chunk Trading Group, launched a scholarship program awarding funds to a Native student planning to attend college.
The funds are given to students who are attending, or planning to attend, a four-year college, two-year college, or technical school. Any Native student is encouraged to apply.
This year’s scholarship winner is Lily Painter, a 2020 high school graduate from Anadarko, OK. Painter, an enrolled member of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, is a freshman this year at the University of Oklahoma, where she majors in anthropology. She said she is grateful she received the scholarship and it will help ease the financial burden of attending college.
“I firmly believe that education helps carve a direct pathway to success and that those who have the desire and drive to attend college should be able to work for and be given the help they need to achieve it,” Painter said. “I especially believe that any people of color working to thrive in a system of education that was not originally designed to accommodate them should be encouraged and celebrated. This scholarship will help me on my journey of finding the path in life that allows my voice to be heard and will then allow me to amplify other voices who have always been striving to break through the surface.”
After graduation in May 2024, Painter said she hopes to one day be able to help other rising scholars financially and in any other way that only encourages their success. Her ultimate goal is to someday work at the National Museum of the American Indian.
“I was ecstatic and absolutely honored to learn of my application acceptance for this scholarship,” she said. “I am very grateful not only for this financial help, but for what it will help me achieve and I am eager to find ways to give back to the indigenous community during and after I complete my education.”
Nationwide, Native students lag behind non-Native students in college enrollment and completion. U.S. Census Data shows that Native American students face a number of barriers and challenges that other students do not, such as lack of cultural inclusion and underrepresentation in the college setting.
The Native Scholarship program aims to help students manage the costs of attending college, while encouraging them to pursue their goals and dreams. SweetGrass recognizes that education is important to help students deliver meaningful contributions not only to their Tribes, but to society at large.