American Indian scholarship created

Mehgan Lee

American Indian students attending the University’s General College will have access to $100,000 in scholarships thanks to a recent donation.

According to a University News press release, Scott Davis of Alexandria, Minn., donated the money to honor an influential friend who died. Although Davis is not American Indian himself, his friend, Richard Lussier, was an Ojibwe from the Red Lake Reservation and taught him about the culture, the news service wrote.

Nigel Perrote, an officer in the American Indian Student Cultural Center and psychology junior, said he thinks the donation is necessary.

“I really don’t hear about many American Indian scholarships,” he said. “I think it’s a good thing that someone specifically donated money for us.”

But Perrote said he would prefer the scholarships be available to American Indian students at all of the University’s colleges, not just the General College.

Currently, 12 percent of the University’s American Indian students are enrolled in General College. However, the majority of American Indian students who come to the University are initially admitted there, said Mark Bellcourt, a counselor and advocate for the college.

“The General College has more access to these students than any other college,” he said. “Traditionally, we have more American Indian students.”

Bellcourt said American Indians are the lowest socioeconomic group in the nation.

“There definitely is a need for scholarships for American Indian students,” he said.

“They certainly don’t have the resources. Most of them live on reservations.”

There are 330 American Indian students enrolled at the University this fall. Melissa Deer, a second-year medical student and a Menominee tribe member, said the scholarships could help increase those numbers.

“You’re not going to be able to recruit more students to the ‘U’ unless scholarships are available,” she said.

Deer said she believes the University needs more scholarships targeted for American Indian students in professional schools.

“I think it’s great they’re beginning to address this at the undergraduate level, but I know there’s a lack of money in the professional school,” she said. “There needs to be some continuation of scholarships into the professional school.”