OKMULGEE, Okla. – Education across the Mvskoke Reservation continues to grow with more program opportunities and existing programs expanding.
Since its establishment in 2004, the College of Muscogee Nation has made great strides in providing education for Native people by gaining accreditation in 2016. Beforehand, CMN partnered with Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology to provide transcript courses.
Two-year degree programs have been added to the curriculum in recent years including criminal justice and even a Mvskoke Language Certificate.
CMN President Dr. Monte Randall joined Mvskoke Livewire to discuss the $2.4 million dollar grant from the Mellon Foundation awarded to Emory University and CMN.
Emory University is located on the homelands of the Muscogee people. It was founded in 1836 on land the Muscogee Nation had ceded to the U.S. government just 15 years earlier, according to a land acknowledgement on their website.
The grant will provide important support for CMN’s transition from a two-year to a four-year institution in Okmulgee. It will provide an emphasis on increasing the number of Mvskoke speakers and revitalizing its Mvskoke language curriculum.
“The relationship between Emory University, the MCN and the College of Muscogee Nation has been developing for the past two years,” Randall said.
Emory Senior Associate Dean of Admissions Beth Michel (Tohono O’odham) reached out to Randall while in his position as the MCN Secretary of Education in 2020 as Emory was developing their land acknowledgement.
“They wanted to get a little bit more information on the Muscogee people and they also wanted to incorporate the Muscogee language,” he said.
As the relationship cultivated, and Randall moved from an education cabinet member to the college president, the colleges solicitified the relationship with this grant proposal to the Mellon Foundation.
CMN proposed to pursue language revitalization efforts in a master-apprentice program approach.
“Our portion ($1.2 million) of the grant is going towards developing our master-apprentice program and Emory has their own priorities set on what they want to establish for it,” he said.Randall defines the program as an immersion style of teaching and learning.
“With immersion, it’s about just speaking the target language,” Randall said. “We are going to alter the course delivery of this 21-credit hour program.”
To immerse the credits, Randall plans to compress the class periods to a Monday through Thursday, eight to five schedule for the 15-week term.
“The funding will allow us to bring on two additional master teachers,” Randall said.
Ideally, first-language Mvskoke speakers, including proficient or fluent speakers will be selected. The faculty will assist with curriculum and administration.
Starting in fall 2023, the program will launch with two cohorts of the program. Each will consist of one master, and four apprentices (students) combined.
Randall said the grant funding will create a fellowship of the two cohorts.
“We are going to provide each student [fellow] with $25,000 for each academic year to be a full-time language learner,” Randall said.
From all the data gathered through research over many years, Randall claimed the people have expressed interest in providing payment to language enthusiasts.
“We should pay our first-language speakers for their services and we should pay our learners,” he said. In response to the people’s request, “We are going to help supplement students to devote their time to learning.” he said.
Applications for the program will become available this summer. Students will complete regular admission as a CMN student seeking a language certificate.
The goal is to create more language teachers to be in the field across the reservation, Randall said.
The language program credit hours will be applied to an associate degree in Native American studies at CMN.
The criminal justice program is the newest two-year degree program offered at the college. The program is designed for students who are interested in the field of tribal law enforcement and the justice system. Students will develop knowledge in the law enforcement community and in areas of federal Indian law, state, tribal criminal and civil law.
CMN Criminal Justice Program Coordinator Cheryl Najera not only leads the criminal justice program but she also coaches the CMN Ravens women’s basketball team. The men’s team is coached by Riley Berry.
The coaches claimed the recent addition of basketball as a class has allowed students to participate, and commit to the growing program.
Berry, once a Raven teammate, claims the team plays intramurally.
“We don’t give out scholarships, we don’t recruit from high schools,” Berry said. “Anybody that wants to play basketball at CMN can be on the basketball team.”
Without a regular basketball conference, the team struggles with cooperation from other junior colleges.
“It’s a challenge to find teams that aren’t sanctioned,” Najera said. “That was the really hard part to find teams to scrimmage us.”
In early April, the team competed in the American Indian Higher Education Consortium tournament in division two. This division allowed teams with no conference or regular game schedules to compete against one another.
The team traveled 19 hours to North Dakota for the four-day tournament that consisted of two days of pool play, and two days of tournament finals.
The girls team consists of 11 girls, and came in third out of 10. The boys consisted of nine players, coming in fourth out of 12.
Ultimately, the coaches are proud of the players for their sportsmanship at the tournament.
The future for the program is to hopefully develop an athletic department at CMN, according to Najera. Though, she said that is in the far future.
For now, the basketball team is taking a break until fall.
For more information, fans can follow the CMN Ravens Basketball Facebook page.
Enrollment for 2023
Summer semester applications are available until May 1.
Continuing with the master plan, the third building should be breaking ground this fall. The building will include a lecture and STEM learning lab.
Potential students can apply at www.cmn.edu.
The Muscogee Nation Education Department is taking applications for higher education opportunities. The spring season is the time for students to take advantage of scholarships and other funding from the tribe.
The MCN Higher Education Program helps students by providing supplemental assistance pursuing undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.
Applications are available online for three grants offered by the MCN Higher Education program.
The undergraduate grant deadline is June 1 for the fall semester. Applications open again on Nov 1 and through Dec 15 for the spring.
This grant is based on enrolled credit hours. It pays students $125 per credit hour who maintain a 2.5 grade point average. Students will be required to submit a transcript at the end of each semester to assure requirements are being met.
The tribal incentive grant incentivises the GPA as it is important for students to remain in good standing academically. Students ranging from a 3.0-3.5 GPA may receive $350. Students with a 3.5 GPA or higher may receive $700.
Lastly, the Bureau of Indian Affairs offers a scholarship up to $4,000 that students can access through the MCN Higher Education Program. June 1 marks the deadline for the fall semester. Applications open again on Nov 1 and through Dec 15 for the spring.
This scholarship is based on financial need. Students must be eligible for a Pell grant. The Financial Aid Student Free Application (FASFA) is required.
Graduate-level scholarships are also available through the department.
The master’s degree program and doctoral degree program applications are available until Aug 1. Spring semester applications will be available Nov 1 to Dec 15. Students may apply for the summer semester until June 1.
Each program has different requirements and needed documentation.
Graduates and the Future
Spring time graduations call for the services of the MCN Graduation Stole Program that serve students participating in the MCN Higher Education Program. These include graduates in an associate, bachelor, master, or doctoral program.
Students are encouraged to order the stole at least four weeks prior to their graduation date.
The MCN Higher Education Program’s Facebook page releases scholarship opportunities available for Native American students that are outside of the department.
According to MCN Scholarship Foundation Manager Pete Coser, the foundation has applications for the fall open until June 30. Award notices have already been sent to the spring awardees.
Summer is a busy season for Coser as the foundation hosts several events to raise scholarship money. He said that donations are accepted and tax deductible.
The largest event is the golf tournament held annually in August.
Coser plans to host a cornhole tournament and 5K run in addition to the golf tournament.
The total payout for the spring was $43,000 to 35 scholars.
A great resource for students seeking higher education is okcollegestart.org. Students will create a profile on the website and can save and seek applications to several scholarships.
Juniors and seniors in high school may be planning the next steps toward their future.
The MCN Higher Education Program’s Facebook page encourages seniors to be aware of upcoming deadlines for college applications, FASFA applications, or any other institution’s application they would like to attend.
Juniors are encouraged to start researching universities and make connections with them on social media websites.
For students interested in the scholarships offered, call the MCN Education and Training Department at 918-732.7661.
The Eufaula Dormitory is currently taking applications for enrollment for the 2023-2024 school year.
The dorm is located on the Mvskoke Reservation in Eufaula. Open to all Native American students, the dorm seeks to fill spots after a screening and interview process.
For potential dorm students, call 918-689-2522.
Head Start centers are opening up their application windows for the 2023-2024 school year. The MCN has six locations across the reservation as well as partnerships with local schools that allow them to use the facilities. Applications will be accepted until filled.
Checotah 918-473-0605 Tulsa 918-296-0357
Okmulgee 918–732-7904 Wetumka 405-452-1180
Okemah 918-623-2000 Collaborations: 918-732-7899
Eufaula 918-618-6220 (Dewar, Midway, Wainwright)
Mvskoke Media is accepting graduate profiles until May 12 at 5 p.m. Students can submit a photo and a 150 word bio to firstname.lastname@example.org for the June 1 graduation edition.