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PSU students win statewide awards for Native American education
Author: John Kirkland
Posted: April 16, 2012

Two Native American students from Portland State University won awards at the 2012 Oregon Indian Education Association (OIEA) Annual Conference at Grand Ronde, OR, on April 2 and 3.

The OIEA awards program is designed to motivate and recognize outstanding students and community members for high efforts to improve Indian education in Oregon.  Each award recipient is nominated through letters of recommendation submitted by colleagues, students, and community members.

The PSU winners, Shilo George and Sky Hopinka, were chosen for their contributed time and effort on Indian education and their excellent academic standing during the past year.  Both are full-time students and members of the United Indian Students in Higher Education at PSU.

Shilo George (Southern Cheyenne)
Outstanding Volunteer of the Year

For the past two years, Shilo taught culture and arts at the Native American Youth and Family Center in Portland (NAYA).  She played a critical role in coordinating and launching several outreach programs to encourage Native American students to attend college.

As a McNair Scholar, she also contributes to events that highlight and refocus the PSU’s commitment to diversity.

Shilo is majoring in Artistic Practices, and minoring in Indigenous Nations Studies. She plans to attend graduate school become a secondary classroom teacher.

Outside of her activities at the University, Shilo is an artist who uses her work to bring attention to the diversity of Portland’s Native American population.  This year she is coordinating a weekly indigenous art and craft group at PSU's Native American Student and Community Center.


Sky Hopinka (Ho-Chunk/Pechanga)
Outstanding Student in
Higher Education

Sky Hopinka’s unyielding approach to teaching Chinuk Wawa classes at PSU’s Native American Student and Community Center over the past year has positively influenced many students and local community members. 

Sky initiated student-led Chinuk Wawa language classes at PSU, which he has been involved with for the past year. His goal is to train and develop a new generation of Chinuk Wawa experts who can help revitalize the language within their indigenous communities.

Sky presents an accelerated tribal language methodology called “Where Are Your Keys.”  It uses conversation dialog along with sign language, written and non-written language transcriptions, and usage of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages scale.