The contest is designed to encourage young Native American writers to explore their heritage. It is open to Native American high school students from all Native communities.
For 2014, students are being asked to write about one or more of the cultural images, symbols or art forms that have been historically developed by their community (American Indian, Alaska Native or Native Hawaiian) to communicate a particular message or value or serve a specific purpose. Essays are to be 1,200 words or less and should cover the following:
Describe the image(s), symbol(s) or art forms selected;
Explain how it was originally developed or used by the community;
Reflect on the student’s own experience about it, including thoughts and feelings; and
Suggest why or how it is still relevant today.
This contest is co-sponsored by the Holland & Knight Charitable Foundation, the National Indian Education Association (NIEA) and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI). Contest winners will receive a $2,500 college scholarship and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., for a week of activities. The essay submission deadline is April 22.
Those students who are interested in participating can visit the Holland & Knight Young Native Writers Essay Contest website, www.nativewriters.hklaw.com, for official contest rules and to view past winning essays. All essays must be submitted electronically by the entry deadline, April 22, 2014, through the contest website. Up to five contest winners will be announced in mid-May.
During the week of July 20, 2014, the contest winners will receive an all-expenses-paid “Scholar Week” trip to Washington, D.C. The group’s activities will include an honor ceremony at NMAI; a tour of the NMAI Cultural Resources Center where tribal objects can be viewed and studied; educational symposia for students and their teachers; and a tour of the U.S. Capitol. Winners will also receive a $2,500 scholarship to be paid to the college or university of their choice.
The contest debuted in 2006 in Red Lake, Minnesota, in response to the March 2005 shooting by a Red Lake High School student of five fellow students, a teacher, a security guard, members of his family and then himself. Holland & Knight’s Charitable Foundation developed this contest with the hope that the Red Lake community would find healing by promoting its rich culture and traditions. In the following years, the program has evolved to serve all Native American communities.