Mission Statement

Providing elevated opportunities for high achieving, community involved Native college students with leadership experience through empowering them with an impactful scholarship experience designed to support their success in higher education.

Blackfoot Chief

Our History

Learn more about the history behind the Cobell vs. Salazar litigations and the ultimate example of unwavering dedication, hard work and victory against all odds.

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Elouise Cobell

In 1996, banker Elouise Cobell became the lead plaintiff in a class action suit, demanding back payment and better accounting on Individual Indian Money Accounts managed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Thirteen years later, the federal government settled for $3.4 billion, the largest settlement in U.S. history.

Research and Scholar Success

Inaugural Elouise Cobell Dissertation Writing-Year Fellowship Recipients Announced ($300,000 Awarded to Ten Fellows) 

Inaugural Cobell Award Recipients Announced

Elouise Cobell Dissertation Writing-Year Fellowship Announced
Four National Native Scholarship Providers Release National Study on College Affordability for Indigenous Students

Meet The Cobell Scholarship Administrator
and Indigenous Education, Inc.

Melvin Monette-Barajas

Melvin Monette-Barajas

CEO and President

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Melvin is an enrolled citizen of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians (North Dakota) and serves as the President for the IEI Board of Directors and CEO for IEI Operations. Melvin enjoys creating and maintaining partnerships for the organization and hearing “I’m a Cobell Scholar!” from students when he travels. Fun fact: I can take you to all the filming locations for “Breaking Bad” in New Mexico but I’ve never seen one episode of the series. In fact, some of “Better Caul Saul” was filmed in IEI’s old office building and that still didn’t prompt me to watch the series.

John Garland

John L. Garland

Director, Research & Scholar Success

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John’s research and advocacy for Indigenous college students and their inclusion within our national data fabric is situated at the intersection of his administrative and teaching experience in higher education, his academic training in college student counseling and development, and his leadership as Director of Research and Scholar Success for the Cobell Scholarship Program. A citizen of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, John was raised where his Choctaw family relocated following his Tribe’s removal from their Southeastern ancestral homelands. From John’s unique platform, he challenges systemic invisibility and social constructions with reassuring leadership for sustainable progress and Indigenous student success through decision intelligence. He received his Bachelor of Business Administration and Master of Science in Student Personnel Services degrees from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma – a Native American serving institution, and his doctorate in Counseling and Personnel Services from the University of Maryland, College Park with an emphasis in College Student Personnel Administration.

Gary Pierce

Gary Pierce

Director of Operations

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Gary is from Huntsville, AL., and went to undergraduate school at the University of North Alabama and received his Bachelor’s degree in Economics. He attended graduate school at the University of New Mexico where he received his Master’s in Accounting. Gary manages the OASIS Portal powered by WizeHive. He’s been with Indigenous Education for 2 years. Gary’s hobbies include: Gaming, woodworking, backpacking, and climbing. Fun fact: Gary is an avid mountain climber.

Gabriel Bell

Gabriel Bell

Director of Outreach

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Gabriel joined Indigenous Education, Inc. as Director of Outreach in 2022. He is a member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes based in Concho, Oklahoma. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics at Oklahoma Baptist University as a Gates Millennium Scholar. Prior to this time, Gabriel spent 11 years at American Indian Graduate Center, a national scholarship organization serving American Indian and Alaska Native students across the country.  His experience covers scholarship operations, academic advisement, campus engagement, data analysis and program management.  Gabriel enjoys working with Native students throughout their educational journeys and looks forward to serving with the team at Indigenous Education, Inc.  As Director of Outreach, Gabriel’s main priorities will be to oversee outreach activities, including social media, presentations and materials, communications to stakeholders, campus connections and oversight of review processes.

Julia Mosconi

Julia Mosconi

Assistant Director of Research and Scholar Success

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Julia (She/Her) is European-American and was raised on the ancestral lands of the Lakota and Ojibwe peoples in Minneapolis, MN. She received her BS in Community Nonprofit Leadership from the University of Wisconsin Madison (Ho-Chunk land) and her MA in Education Policy from George Washington University (Pamunkey/Piscataway/Anacostan land). Julia has been with IEI since just after its inception in 2016 and currently serves as the Assistant Director of Research and Student Success in which she manages external partnerships, assists and leading the Fellowship Program, maintain social media platforms, analyzes and compiles data and reports, creates & manages student success and services, and assists with internal and external research projects. She currently resides in Washington, DC. During her free time she enjoys traveling, volleyball, reading, and spending time with her friends and family.

Joseph Marion

Joseph Marion

Scholarship Associate

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Aniin (Hello), I am Joseph Neesho-Migizi (Two-Eagle) Marion, an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa. I’ve been living in Santa Fe, NM for 5.5 years. I’m a hairdresser, artist in silver jewelry, working with sterling silver, turquoise, and other precious stones. My other art forms include painting with water color, teaching Native American beadwork, fashion design, with a focus on ribbon skirts and shirts. I write poetry and short stories as well. I’m now working with Indigenous Education, Inc., Home of the Cobell Scholarship in Albuquerque, NM. I have a passion for hiking the mountains of New Mexico.


Kathy Deeshchii'nii

Administrative Associate

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Hello (Yá’-át’ééh), my name is Kathy Deeshchii’nii and am Diné from the Navajo Nation, I am Todích’íí’nii (Bitter Water), maternal clan, born for the Tłógi (Hairy Ones), paternal clan. I joined Indigenous Education Inc., in January 2022 as an Administrative Associate after 30 years working at the University of New Mexico. I have a wonderful husband, Dan, and four adult sons who all live in Albuquerque, we have two beautiful granddaughters and two dogs. The IEI staff have been welcoming and supportive; I look forward to establishing new working relationships and assisting our native students across the US and Alaska.  Thank you (ahéhee’)

1 scholar

Skylynn Olvera

OASIS Manager

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Skylynn is from Gallup, NM, and a member of the Navajo Nation. She recently graduated from the University of New Mexico in May 2022 with a BS in Population Health. Sky helps manage the OASIS PORTAL powered by WIzeHive and serves as a scholarship associate. During her free time, she enjoys weightlifting, playing soccer and spending time with her family and friends. Fun Fact: Sky can squat 275 lbs.

Oscar Corona

Scholarship Operations Associate

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Oscar Corona is from Albuquerque, NM. He studied at the University of New Mexico where he earned his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Managerial Information Systems. In his free time Oscar likes to spend time with his daughter, family, and friends. Oscar joined the team in September 2023 as Scholarship Operations Associate and helps manage the OASIS Portal. He looks forward to helping Native Scholars continue their higher education pursuits through the Cobell Scholarship Program.

Michelle Van Pelt

Outreach Associate

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Michelle is from the lower village of Munqupi, AZ and a member of the Hopi tribe. She continues her studies at Arizona State University. Michelle has over twenty-five years of experience as a student service provider specializing in scholarship advisement and outreach. She was employed with the American Indian Graduate Center/Scholars, now known as Native Forward Scholars Fund. During that time, she was instrumental in developing outreach management initiatives for the Gates Millenium Scholars program partnership. For nine years, Michelle was employed at the Nixyaawii Community School as a career, college preparation, art, social media instructor and was the ASPIRE Coordinator. Michelle enjoys providing academic opportunities to tribal nations across the country and continues this work now with the Cobell Scholarship Program at Indigenous Education, Inc. Her passions include videography, traveling, photography, and spending time with her family. 

Dylan Egeland

Scholar Success Associate

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Dylan is from East Grand Forks, Minnesota and is an enrolled citizen of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians (North Dakota). He attended the University of North Dakota, as a Cobell Scholar, where he earned his Bachelor of Business Administration (B.B.A.) degree with a specialization in Operations and Supply Chain Management. As a staff member with Indigenous Education, Inc. (IEI), Dylan is dedicated to helping Indigenous scholars achieve their academic and personal goals. In his position as Scholar Success Associate, he primarily manages the Cobell Community platform, powered by Hivebrite. This platform serves as a hub for scholars, alumni, and friends of Cobell to connect and engage with one another. Additionally, he assists the Research and Student Success Department at IEI maintaining social media channels, conducting data analysis and reporting, and managing student success services. Dylan currently resides in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Outside of work, he is an avid sports fan, with a special passion for ice hockey and football. He also enjoys traveling and spending time at his family’s lake home during the summer months. Fun fact: Dylan can solve a Rubik’s cube in less than two minutes and is more than willing to teach you the art of solving it too!

Micah Jewett

Social Media Intern

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Micah Jewett is a proud member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, and grew up in the suburbs of Denver, Colorado. She is a senior at Colorado State University, studying Journalism and Media Communications as well as Legal Studies. Micah is the Social Media Intern at Indigenous Education, Inc. (IEI) with the Cobell Scholarship Program. She spends her time working on promoting Cobell Scholarship opportunities, Cobell Scholars mobile app, Cobell Community, and all things relevant to the Cobell Scholarship program on social media platforms. Micah uses her perspective as a student in the work that she does at IEI and seeks to ensure targeted audiences are reached and social media presence is expanded. A fun fact about Micah is that she is a huge Swiftie! 

Cobell Scholarship Application

Cobell Scholarships offers are merit-based following a lengthy application and referral process. Cobell Scholarship awards are disbursed according to US Federal Student Aid standards and the policies of the individual colleges and universities. The Cobell Scholarship is annual, non-renewable, and available to any post-secondary (after high school) student who is: an enrolled member of a US Federally-recognized Tribe, enrolled in or plans to enroll in full-time study and is degree-seeking while attending any nationally, regionally and industry accredited non-profit, public and private, institution.


Verification Processes

Indigenous Education, Inc. engages several highly qualified Native education specialists to review all completed applications. Following this review, merit-based offers are made to hundreds of carefully screened and selected applicants who then move to FINALIST status in early May each year. During this stage, several things happen simultaneously:

  • Finalists will accept (or decline) the offer, then submit completed recent transcripts and proof of course enrollment for the next term for which funding will be made available. This can be very early in the process or late, depending on individual institutional policies. We also like to see scholar faces so an optional photo can be uploaded. For this reason and to relieve stress on the Finalist, the post-acceptance period usually remains open throughout the summer. It is important to understand that during this time, scholarship offers will not be lost; and,
  • Staff work with tribal enrollment offices to verify citizenship; and,
  • Staff work with financial aid offices to verify university attendance and financial aid eligibility.

*In some rare instances, we need the Finalist’s assistance in reaching out to these offices, but for most, IEI tries to do the heavy-lifting for Finalists.

At any point in the verification process a Finalist chooses to attend a different school or contact information changes, they can simply login to make changes or contact our offices for assistance.

Disbursement of funds are processed on a first-completed, first-funded basis, each Friday throughout each academic term.

**Each year, a waitlist is established. Individuals on the waitlist can see this status in OASIS. Offers to individuals on the waitlist can be made at any time during the academic year; therefore, it is important that applicants keep their information updated in OASIS.

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Frequently Asked Questions


Cobell Scholarship FAQ information is categorized into four (4) areas with a PDF for each area available for printing: Eligibility, Applying, Selection, and Summer Research Fellowship.

The Cobell Online Application & Scholarship Information System (OASIS) also has an FAQ tab for applicant convenience.


Federal Student Aid (studentaid.gov) is a user-friendly website for students, families, and community members. Look for “How Financial Aid Works” to get informed and stay informed.

The College Board has several good tools to help select a college, explore careers, pay for college, get into college(s), and guidance to make a plan.  Information about financial aid can be particularly useful; however, their entire site is recommended and can be accessed HERE.

Resourceful Links

Federal Student Aid – Find out how to complete the FAFSA and maintain your federal student aid profile.  Great resources for families as well as individual students.

The American Indian College Fund – The American Indian College Fund provides scholarships to students attending Tribal College and University students, and undergraduate and graduate students attending any other accredited public and non-profit private college all across the United States.

Native Forward Scholars Fund – Throughout our 50-year history, Native Forward has empowered over 20,000 students from over 500 Tribes in all 50 states by providing scholarship dollars and support for services for undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees.

The American Indian Science and Engineering Society – AISES provides scholarships to students and provides so much more in student leadership, mentorship, involvement and service.

Scholarship Opportunities for American Indian and Alaska Native students is a resources page maintained by the federal Bureau of Indian Education.


The PSAT and SAT are administered by the College Board

The ACT suite of products and services can be found here

GRE – the Graduate Record Exam

GMAT – the Graduate Management Admission Test is administered by the Graduate Management Admission Council

LSAT – the Law School Admissions Test is administered by the Law School Admissions Council

MCAT – the Medical College Admission Test is administered by the Association of Medical Colleges.

PCAT – the Pharmacy College Admission Test is a specialized test that helps identify qualified applicants to pharmacy colleges.

DCAT – the Dental College Admission Test is administered by the American Dental Association.


COLLEGE HORIZONS – is a pre-college program for Native American high school students open to current sophomores and juniors.  Each summer students work with college counselors and college admissions officers in a five-day “crash course.”  The individualized program helps students select colleges suitable for them to apply to, get admitted to, and receive adequate financial aid. Students research their top 10 schools; complete college essays, resumes, the Common Application, and the preliminary FAFSA; receive interviewing skills and test-taking strategies (on the ACT and SAT) and financial aid/scholarship information.

GRADUATE HORIZONS – a four-day workshop for Native college students, college graduates, and master’s students in preparing for graduate school (master’s, Ph.D. or professional school).

Big Future is a program of the College Board designed to help students track their own path to college and career.

Study Public Health, Change the World – find out if Public Health is for you

The public health profession cuts across many different disciplines. Use the SOPHAS Academic Program Finder to search degree programs from over 80 schools and programs.

Pathways to Science is a project of the Institute for Broadening Participation (IBP) . Pathways to Science supports pathways to the STEM fields: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. We place particular emphasis on connecting underrepresented groups with STEM programs, funding, mentoring and resources.

Kahn Academy Join Khan Academy to get personalized help with what you’re studying or to learn something completely new. They’ll save all of your progress.

Contact Us At Your Convenience

The Cobell Scholarship Team is available to address any questions or concerns regarding the scholarship process or other related inquiries. Simply complete and submit the form below.

If you are interested to be a reviewer for the Undergraduate or Graduate Review in mid-April each year, please express your interest and submit in the form below. 

Indigenous Education, Inc.
The Cobell Scholarship
2155 Louisiana Blvd NE Suite 10100
Albuquerque NM 87110
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About The Scholarship
Indigenous Education, Inc. promotes The Cobell Scholarship’s goal to provide applicants and inquirers with the most beneficial information regarding this carefully established scholarship opportunity. All scholarship applicants are encouraged to read these documents to best respond to application question prompts.
- Melvin Monette-Barajas, CEO