NIEA  provides all educators and advocates an opportunity to recognize individuals in Native communities who are role models and have provided service to their communities in the past calendar year. In honoring a few individuals we recognize what is possible for all of us. NIEA invites educators and advocates to nominate deserving individuals and organizations for recognition.

Award winners are celebrated during the NIEA Awards Luncheon at the Convention and Trade Show. To purchase a ticket for this event, please click here. To purchase a table, please click here.


William Demmert Cultural Freedom Award

National Coalition of Native American Language Schools and Programs

The Coalition of Native American Language Schools and Programs (“The Coalition”) serves to bring together schools and programs taught through Native American languages under the provisions of the federal Native American Languages Act of 1990 (NALA).  The Coalition seeks to educate and advocate for the use of Native languages as the medium of instruction in schools and programs. The Coalition members include Bureau of Indian Education schools, charter schools and other public schools, as well as private schools. The Coalition also includes the full range of education from preschool to grade 12 and into higher education.  All members provide education through a Native American language for one half or more of all education in targeted grades.  The Coalition represents existing programs in sixteen different states—Alaska, Arizona, Hawai`i, Idaho, Massachusetts, Montana, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming—where a broad range of languages are recognized as Native American languages, including among others: Ojibwe, Mohawk, Cherokee, Lakota, Navajo, Shoshone, Salish, Central Alaskan Yup’ik, and Hawaiian.  The Coalition offers assistance to groups seeking to start programs in these sixteen states and other states and American territories.

The Coalition is a non-partisan group of organizations, families, parents and allies and was established in January 2014 at the Stabilizing Indigenous Languages Symposium Conference in Hilo, Hawai`i. Despite its recent formation, the members of the Coalition are Native educators with decades of experience with Native American language schools, immersion education and advocacy. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) and Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI), members of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and two of the sponsors of The Native Language Immersion Student Achievement Act, acknowledged the Coalition and its members for helping to change the way federal education policy is implemented in schools where education is delivered primarily through the medium of a Native American language.  

NIEA is proud to recognize the success and contributions of The Coalition to Native education.

Dr. Allison 1

Lifetime Achievement Award

Dr. Sherry Allison
Navajo Nation

Dr. Allison has served as the President of SIPI for at least the last 10 years with a history of turning the institution around under very difficult circumstances. She has served as the Director of Professional Development and the Director of Special Education for the BIA Center for School Improvement. In every position she has held she has demanded excellence from staff and integrity to the mission of serving Indian Country, children, and families.

Dr. Allison has been a devoted leader to Native education. She has served as a past president of the National Indian Education Association (NIEA) and has devoted many years of service to the NIEA organization. She has also been an active member of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium and served as a leader among tribal college administrators. Dr. Allison was  chosen to be one of the facilitators for the White House Conference on Indian Education. She received her doctorate in Special Education and has worked for Navajo Nation.

NIEA is proud to recognize the lifetime of service Dr. Sherry Allision has provided to Native education and Native students.


Elder of the Year

Jennie Shore
Seminole Tribe of Florida

The Este-Cate Em Ponvkv Cuko Immersion Program is part of the Pemayetv Emahakv “Out Way” School, a tribal charter school run by the Seminole Tribe of Florida. The immersion program is an amazing program; it is one the only program in the world to have a completely Creek immersion experience for the entire day. 

The program was founded 2 years ago in order to save the Creek language by creating a space and environment where full literacy in the language can be achieved. There is no one who is more respected and valuable as part of this program than the teacher and leader known affectionately as Grandma Jennie. While visiting the program, located on the Brighton Seminole Reservation, it was obvious and apparent than Grandma Jennie was adored and respected by her both her students and her colleagues, including Principal Brian Greseth. Grandma Jennie leads the program as a fluent speaker and elder within the community. Her work to revitalize the language has created an environment that will create the next generation of Creek speakers- keeping culture and tradition alive for the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

To read letter of congratulations for Ms. Shore from Chairman Marcellus W. Osceola, Jr. and Brighton Councilman Andrew J. Bowers, Jr., please click here.


Educator of the Year

Matthew Remle
Lakota Nation

Matt Remle understands that there are many ways of educating students, not just in the classroom. Teaching students how to conduct themselves with other youth and the community, the respect that you show for others and how you treat all youth and adults, and having empathy for those who have fallen into trouble are all lessons Matt gives to his students. Matt works for the Marysville School District in Washington state and volunteers for many tribally sponsored events, student recognition ceremonies, arts festivals, and parent committee meetings. He is an acclaimed activist- participating in protests against the Dakota Access pipeline and for justice for victims of police shootings. He works tirelessly to help Native youth and is a great role model for them. He is an excellent example of a Native educator.


Community Service Award of the Year

Miccosukee Indian School
Miccosukee Tribe of Florida

The Miccosukee Indian School is a leading example in Native education. When the school gained a historic waiver from the Department of Education in 2015, they were granted flexibility from strict requirements of federal law. The waiver represented an agreement between the Miccosukee Tribe and the federal government, and allowed the tribe to adapt their curriculum to meet the needs of their students- including curricula that is culturally relevant. The school and tribe were only able to gain the waiver after extensive work- it was a culmination of 5 years of non-stop advocacy on behalf of their children.

The school now offers classes that focus on arts and technology while also ensuring culture is at the forefront of their work. When walking into the school were greeted by students wearing traditional clothing, displays that showcased the cultural works of the students, and an environment fueled by teachers who have helped establish in their students a love of learning. The school provides tutoring and opportunities for members to learn about their tribal homelands, the Everglades. With a strong focus on indigenous teachings and science, we are hopeful that this school will support students as they grow up to lead their community.

This year, as we celebrate innovative voices, we must celebrate a school and tribe that have opened the door for other tribes to control the education of their students.

3 Kimberly Shook

Classroom Teacher of the Year

Kimberly Shook
Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma

Kimberly was chosen as the 2016 Indian Teacher of the Year by our statewide organization, Oklahoma Council for Indian Education. Kimberly is currently teaching at Sunset Elementary in Edmond, OK.  She has been teaching with Edmond Public Schools for seventeen years. Throughout her teaching career she has also taught in Oklahoma City, Jenks, and Owasso Public Schools. All together she has been in the teaching profession for twenty-four years.

Kimberly comes from the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma. She is the mother of sons and is also a mother of one son who is currently serving in the United States Navy. Kimberly is a proud mother.

Kimberly has been active with the Edmond Indian Education programs in various capacities. She first became involved with the program as a parent. Her children participated in the Title VII and Johnson O’Malley programs. Through their association with the program, she became a volunteer. After they graduated from high school, she stayed involved with the Johnson O’Malley summer program and the Title VI (formerly Title VII) after school tutoring program.

Kimberly has worked with the Edmond Johnson O’Malley summer program as a teacher. Her teaching involved incorporating tribal history, art and culture for the JOM students. She also oversaw students as they traveled to places in Oklahoma such as the Red Earth Festival, Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma, Seminole Tribal Museum, Chickasaw Nation Cultural Center, American Indian Museum, Oklahoma History Museum and other venues that highlighted the importance of our 39 tribes of Oklahoma. Taking students to the various places has always been a highlight for our JOM students with their teachers.


Parents of the Year

Daniel and Jeanna Jim
Pawnee Nation

Daniel and Jeanna are longtime residents of Edmond, OK and Edmond Public School Indian Education supporters and are proud parents to five children and grandparents to three. Daniel is a former student of both the Title VI (formerly V and VII) Indian Education and Johnson O’Malley programs. Daniel took part with the program as a student and after having his own children became involved with the program as a parent member.

Daniel and Jeanna have been involved in Title VI and Johnson O’Malley for over 15 years as parents. Daniel is from the Pawnee Tribe. Both have continuously encouraged their children, and now grandchildren, to participate in Indian Education activities. They always volunteer their time to help with activities throughout the year and have served on the Parent Committee for many years. Culturally, they have shared their Pawnee heritage with program students. As parent committee members, they provide valuable suggestions for the program that relate to the activities and events of the program. They are always eager to participate in the activities or where they are needed.