Unifying past and present

147 students receive Chief Manuelito Scholarship


Group photo on theater benches.

The 2017 Chief Manuelito scholars pose for a group photo alongside Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye and Navajo Nation Vice President Johnathan Nez.

“The Chief Manuelito scholarship means a unification of our past and present,” said Lanalle Black, a Chief Manuelito scholar and recent graduate from Monument Valley High School.

Black was one of over 100 students who received the $7,000 annual scholarship to help cover post-secondary education.

“Chief Manuelito was an advocate for our future, our health, our education,” Black said. “It also looks toward the future. It looks towards what our needs will be in a couple years, in a hundred years, when it comes to doctors, lawyers, educators.”

Black was valedictorian of her high school, president of the National Honor Society and student body president. She was accepted to Stanford University.

She will be attending the university this fall where she’ll study biology with hopes of becoming a health-care professional in the future.

“I know the Navajo Nation is underserved and we need professionals to take on jobs such as doctors,” Black said.

Smiling girls.

Izzabella Chee, a recent graduate of Pinon High School, attends the 2017 Chief Manuelito Scholarship Award Ceremony. Chee will be attending Northern Arizona University.

Black is following in the footsteps of her older sister, Ashlynn Black, who will be a junior at Stanford University and is also studying biology.

“She’s my best friend and I’m just really excited to be able to follow her to Stanford,” Black said. “To learn under her and to be guided by her.”

The best part about growing up on the reservation, Black said, was being able to learn about Navajo history, culture and values from her family.

Black lived with her mother and father, Marcella and Kenneth Black, who instilled in her the value of learning traditional Navajo ways and speaking the Navajo language.

Black also grew up just a few hundred feet from her grandparents’ home, in Monument Valley, Utah, and nearly a dozen of her aunts also lived in the area.

“They have so much knowledge and so much wisdom that they can teach me,” Black said. “I’ve learned a lot about what it means to connect with Mother Earth, Father Sky and all the Diyin Dine’e.”

Black is a lifelong student of the Kayenta Unified School District.

“They were always supportive of me,” Black said. “While the education may not be as great as Phillips Exeter Academy, I think it did a great job of producing young individuals who can think toward the future.”

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Categories: Education

About Author

Pauly Denetclaw

Pauly Denetclaw is Meadow People born for Towering House People. She was raised in Manuelito and Naschitti, New Mexico. She was the co-recipient of the Native American Journalist Association's 2016 Richard LaCourse Award for Investigative Reporting. Denetclaw is currently finishing her degree in multimedia journalism from the University of New Mexico - Main. Denetclaw covers a range of topics including genetic research, education, health, social justice issues and small businesses. She loves coffee, writing and being with her family. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram. Her handle is @pdineclah