4 Pueblo Pintado students capture regional awards

PUEBLO PINTADO, N.M., May 3, 2012

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(Courtesy photo)

TOP: Jaren Castillo, left, and Ross Whitehorse with their National History Day project about Gandhi at the regional competition March 20 in Farmington.
SECOND FROM TOP: Alexander Wytewa with his National History Day project about the American Indian Movement at the regional competition March 20 in Farmington.
BOTTOM: Cicily Werito with her National History Day project about boarding schools at the regional competition March 20 in Farmington.

Four Navajo students who attend Pueblo Pintado Community School earned awards for historical research projects March 20 at the National History Day regional competition at San Juan College in Farmington.

Cicily Werito won first place in the individual exhibit category for her project titled "Kill the Indian and Save the Man: The Educational Assault on Native Americans through Boarding Schools."

Jaren Castillo and Ross Whitehorse won first place in the group exhibit category for their project titled "Gandhi's Fight for Freedom: A Revolution Against the British Empire."

And Alexander Wytewa placed third in the individual exhibit category for his project titled "Aiming for Change: The American Indian Movement's Reactions to Failed US Government Reforms."

At the state competition in Albuquerque last Friday, Wytewa erned the Best Native American Topic award.

Also at the state competition, Werito earned the 2012 New Mexico Genealogical Society Award.

Werito's parents are Mary Jo and Vinton Werito. She is Mexican Clan born for the Rough Land Formation clan. Her maternal grandparents are Mexican Clan and her paternal grandparents the Wondering clan. She is in the eighth grade.

"I got the idea for researching boarding schools because I attend a boarding school and thought it was interesting to find out how modern boarding schools compared to the first boarding schools established," she said.

"My project is very important to me because it shows how much our elders went through to have the boarding schools we have today," she said.

People who see her project should learn to value Native American culture because it can be lost easily, she added.

Werito said when she grows up she wants to be a family lawyer to help her people have strong families.

Castillo is the son of James and Judy Castillo. He is in the 8th grade.

He said he and Whitehorse got the idea for their project by choosing a successful movement that was achieved with non-violence.

"Mahatma Gandhi was trying to tell people in India to fight against the British non-violently and it was successful," he said. "I wanted to study about Mahatma Gandhi because he led a successful movement and he inspired other social movements throughout the world and on the U.S peace movements in the U.S."

"This project means a lot to me because it tells a lot about our history and that most non-violent movements can be successful and achieved," he said. "And Mahatma Gandhi once said, 'You must be the change you want to see in the world' and what he means by this quote is that you can change things that need to be changed and fight for the right cause."

People who see his project should learn that Gandhi was a voice of non-violence in a violent world and that most movements can be successful and achieved, he said.

Castillo wants to become an engineer so he can change the future for the reservation and to do something right for the people on the reservation who are struggling with water and gas resources.

"And I want to show that anything you put your mind to, you will be successful at," he said.

Ross Whitehorse's parents are Ross Whitehorse Sr. and Karen Cayaditto. His clans are Bitterwater, born for Towering House. He is in the 8th grade.

He said he and Castillo chose a peaceful and successful movement that inspires others to do the same peacefully and non-violently.

"This project means the history of the characters in the early times and how they became leaders for their family and tribe," he said. "Also it means a lot to me and my partner in the history of the characters."

Whitehorse said people who see their project can learn a lot from Mahatma Gandhi.

He plans to finish high school and college and play basketball.

"I want to be a role model so others could look up to me," he said.

Wytewa's parents are Helena Jake and Alvin Wytewa. He is Hastlishnii (Mud Clan), born for Zuni. He is in the 8th grade.

"I first came up with the idea of studying up on the American Indian Movement by first wanting to research how commodity foods affected the diet of indigenous people," he said.

His project shows how the rights of Native Americans came to be and that achieving the rights of Native Americans came last of all races.

"The people who view my project should learn how many Native American tribes revolted to make a more just society," he said.

Wytewa hopes to succeed in the field of physics and hopefully win a Nobel Prize. He said his strengths are in academics, mostly in mathematics and science.

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