Welcome to summer quarter! Visit the summer quarter overview page for helpful links and resources.

Native Student Success Summit: Re-Indigenized Spaces

Home/News/Native Student Success Summit: Re-Indigenized Spaces
2019-05-02T13:47:10+00:00 April 7, 2019|News|
Print Page

Native Student Success Summit: Re-Indigenized Spaces

  • Students and presentors at previous Summits

Thursday, May 2, 2019

8:30 a.m.–3 p.m.

Highline’s main campus

Summit Theme: p̕uləb (RISE in Lushootseed): Re-Indigenized Spaces for Lifelong Success

The Native Student Success Summit is designed to inspire and empower high school* and college students to be successful in higher education and beyond. Registration is required.

During the free summit, participants will

  • Find encouragement and support with tools and resources for Native student success and leadership development.
  • Gain an increased awareness of ways to identify, articulate and work toward actionable goals for personal and communal success in culturally rooted ways.
  • Make meaningful connections and gain a deeper sense of community with other Native student leaders in Western Washington.

View the full program agenda below.

The summit for American Indian and Alaska Native students is the result of a partnership between Highline Public Schools and Highline College.

Participating as presenters and organizers are Native educators, professionals and community leaders from the school districts of Auburn, Federal Way, Kent, Renton and Seattle; Green River College; and Seattle Indian Health Board.

Sara Marie Ortiz

Sara Marie Ortiz

Sara Marie Ortiz and Dr. Tanya Powers are the founders and lead organizers of the summit, now in its third year.

Ortiz is a member of Pueblo of Acoma, a tribal community in New Mexico, and manages Highline Public Schools’ Native Education Program.

“There’s nothing quite like the Native Student Success Summit. We’ve worked hard to create an opportunity that isn’t just about college or career access and success for Native students alone,” said Ortiz.

“We see it as an expansive, immersive, challenging, intergenerational learning opportunity; a chance to connect with each other, ask tough questions, challenge norms, have critical conversations and feel truly supported at the summit and far beyond by a powerful network of Native scholars, professionals, artists, advocates and visionary Native change-makers. This has never been more urgently needed in these very complex times.”

 Tanya Powers

Tanya Powers

Powers is mixed heritage St. Lawrence Island Yupik/Siberian Yupik and Irish and is the director of Workforce and Baccalaureate Education at Highline College.

“This is our fourth annual Native Student Success Summit and we are pleased to have this event where we can nurture culture, identity and community,” said Powers, who recently defended her dissertation — “Giving Back, a Retention Influence of Urban American Indian and Alaska Native Women Community College Students” — at Seattle University, completing her doctorate in educational leadership.

According to Powers, the two were inspired by other successful Highline College events for students of color, such as the Black and Brown Male Summit, the Y.E.L.L. Female Summit and the Latinx Summit. Approximately 100 students are expected to attend.


Dr. Tanya Powers: tpowers@highline.edu or (206) 592-3662
Sara Marie Ortiz: sara.ortiz@highlineschools.org or (206) 631-3162

*For high school students, lunch will be provided and local transportation assistance is available. Call for details. High school student should download and have a parent sign the photo release form and bring it to the summit.


Registration is now closed for the 2019 Native Student Success Summit.


8:30–8:50 a.m.: Registration
Location: Building 7

8:50–9:05 a.m.: Welcome (Highline College, AANAPISI) & Community Builder
Location: Building 7

9:05–9:50 a.m.: Morning Keynote: Hillel Echohawk
Location: Building 7

9:50–10:00 a.m.: Break

10:00–11:00 a.m.: Breakout Sessions

Session A: Tribal Language Revitalization/Power of Native Languages
Location: Building 8, Mt. Skokomish
Session B: Youth Focused Mental Health
Location: Building 7
Session C: College Access/Preparedness/Scholarships & Native Student Experience
Location: Building 2

11:00–11:35 a.m.: Lunch/Student Networking
Location: Building 2 and 7

11:35–11:50 a.m.: Physical Movement/Community Builder – health & wellness
Location: Building 2 and 7

11:50 a.m.–12:50 p.m.: Breakout Sessions

Session A: yəhaw̓: Native Artists Rock the World
“The Creator has left the sky too low. We are going to have to do something about it, and how can we do that when we do not have a common language? …We can all learn one word, that is all we need. That word is yəhaw̓ – that means to proceed, to go forward, to do it.”
— taqʷšəblu / Vi Hilbert (Upper Skagit) in her telling of Lifting the Sky
Our stories and our many brilliant forms of art that story our lives are sacred. They have the power to heal, to change lives, to change and shake worlds, they have the power to give breath to dreams, to destroy and birth, revitalize, and bring things back from the dead. Art is life. In Indigenous ways of knowing, being, doing, there is no separation between our lives, our languages, our ways of surviving and caring for the people, and our “art” and various modes of expression. Making a basket is art. But so too is cooking a meal, or telling a tribal story, or gathering berries or fishing with your family. Join us for this interactive session where we’ll talk about the power of the new year-long Indigenous creatives showcase yəhaw̓, curated by Native women, and go deep into the work and brilliant minds of local creative contemporary Native artists, educators, and change-makers, learning why they chose to honor the creative expressions of Native peoples in everything they do, how they’ve learned their practice, how they’ve turned their art into a career, and how you can too!
Location: Building 8, Mt. Skokomish

Session B: Re-indigenizing Health & Wellness
Location: Building 2
Session C: Native Youth Caucus
Location: Building 7

12:55–1:15 p.m.: Validation & Closing for High School Students
Location: Building 7

2:00–3:00 p.m.: Afternoon Workshop – College Student Session/Indigenous Student Association
Location: Building 2

Speaker Biographies

Image of Justice Dominy

Justice Dominy

Master of Ceremonies and Youth Focused Mental Health

Justice Elizah Dominy is an enrolled member of the Tlingit tribe and she is also Assiniboine Sioux. She lives in Seattle, Washington. She is seventeen years old and is currently a Senior at Highline High School and is finishing her high school career by doing running start at Highline College. She will continue her education as she goes on to her second year of college next fall! She has been involved with Red Eagle Soaring Youth Theatre group since the age of ten years old and is now currently involved as a mentor for the group. Since her freshman year she has participated in Native American Youth Leadership Academy, and in the last two years has been on the planning committee for the annual NAYLA conference. She is a part of the newly established Seattle Indian Health Board Youth Council also called the “Kiis Council.” She is also the newly elected Youth Ambassador for Tlingit & Haida! Justice is also on the planning committee for the annual Highline Native Success Summit at Highline College. She is strong and resilient and she tries to not let her past define who she is as a person; she uses what she has been through in life to motivate her and push her as far as possible. Beating every statistic that has faced her is what truly pushes her towards success and passion for what she believes is right. Justice is very excited to have had the opportunities that she has had thus far and she is ready to create change for the better in all that she is involved in.

Image of Morgayne Lawson

Morgayne Lawson

Master of Ceremonies

Morgayne Lawson is an enrolled member of the Village of Gambell and is St. Lawrence Island/Siberian Yupik. She lives in Seattle, Washington and is a senior at West Seattle High School. She has been active in the West Seattle Native Student Club. She has previously participated in NAYLA, College Horizons and American Indian Summer Institute in Earth System Sciences with the University of California, Irvine. In her free time, she skates for the Galaxy Girls, Seattle Derby Brat’s travel team and also skater coaches the UltraViolets. She has been active in roller derby for the last 8 years.

Image of Hillel Echo-Hawk

Hillel Echo-Hawk

Keynote Speaker and Re-indigenizing Health & Wellness Session

Hillel Echo-Hawk (Pawnee and Athabaskan) was born and raised in the interior of Alaska, around the Athabaskan village of Mentasta-home to the matriarchal chief and subsistence rights activist, Katie John. Watching John and other Indigenous Peoples fight for food sovereignty, as well as seeing her mother strive to make healthy, home-cooked meals for her and her six siblings has given Hillel a unique and important perspective on diet and wellness.

Hillel has a passion for local, ethically sourced and sustainable foods, all through an Indigenous lens and perspective. Echo-Hawk is dedicated to the food sovereignty of Native peoples and is committed to empowering all Indigenous Peoples by increasing knowledge of an access to traditional diets and foods. Hillel believes that food should feed not only the body, but the spirit and midshipmen’s of the community. Her unique positioning and experience as an Indigenous person is bringing a different take on current food systems.

After receiving her Bachelor’s degree in Culinary Arts from Seattle Central College, Echo-Hawk has been working as a cook in some of Seattle’s most innovated and popular restaurants for several years. She is the owner and operator of, Birch Basket, an Indigenous foods catering company. She is also a member of the I-Collective, a group of chefs, seed and knowledge keepers, and artists dedicated to Food Sovereignty and Food Justice in our community. Hillel is a sister, aunt, daughter, and active member of her community.

Image of Rachelanne Subido

Rachelanne Subido

Youth Focused Mental Health

Rachelanne Subido [CROW] is a program consultant for the King County Office of Indian Child Welfare. She has her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Seattle University, and her Master’s degree in Social Work from Boston College. Rachelanne has dedicated her life to serving Native People, including many years with the ICW office, and as an ongoing case manager for the Muckleshoot Tribe’s child and family services program. She is extremely passionate about connecting and teaching Native American children about their culture, as well as advocating for their parents and the Native Community as a whole to address and combat the issues that we face as a people.

Image of Sara Marie Ortiz

Sara Marie Ortiz

yəhaw̓: Native Artists Rock the World

Sara Marie Ortiz, MFA (Pueblo of Acoma) is a graduate of the Institute of American Indian Arts’ Creative Writing Program graduating with her BFA and is a graduate with her Masters in Creative Writing (Creative Nonfiction) from Antioch University Los Angeles. She’s formally studied law, Indigenous education, global self-determination in Indigenous communities, radio, theater, film, and creative writing and has worked in some capacity in Native Education and urban Native community advocacy for over 23 years, becoming a JOM tutor of other Native students at just 12 years of age.

Ms. Ortiz currently serves as the Native Education Program Manager for Highline Public Schools, a large urban district in South King County, supporting the overall administration of the program which supports deep system change, Native student excellence, meaningful family engagement, and meaningful cultural learning opportunities for Native learners. She provides senior level advisement on tribal sovereignty and tribal affairs to the board, cabinet, and superintendent, serving on the Superintendent’s Shared Leadership Team.

Ms. Ortiz has designed and led a number of projects and initiatives serving the urban Native community since 2013 including the Partnering for Early Native Learner Success Project, the Highline Native Student Success Summit, and co-founding the South King County Native Coalition. Ms. Ortiz is also a published author and public speaker with over 16 years of publishing, editing, and speaking credits to her name with publications in such prestigious publications as the Kenyon Review, the Denver Quarterly, the Yellow Medicine Review, and Indian Country Today and currently serves as the Urban Representative on the Washington State Native American Education Advisory Committee to the Office of the Superintendent for Public Instruction.

Image of Natalie Martinez

Natalie Martinez

yəhaw̓: Native Artists Rock the World

Natalie A. Martínez is a poet, scholar and curator. She received her PhD in Rhetoric, Composition, and Linguistics from Arizona State University where her research and writing focused on the rhetoric of anger among indigenous and queer Latinx writers and activists and the productive ways those emotions have been mobilized. She is currently a curatorial member of the Alice Gallery in Seattle and is working to bring indigenous centered curriculum, and art programming to Bellevue College where she teaches.

She is a Chicana, a direct descendant of Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa and European settlers. It is in the memory and honor of her maternal grandmother, that she does this work.

Image of Miranda Belarde-Lewis

Miranda Belarde-Lewis

yəhaw̓: Native Artists Rock the World

Miranda Belarde-Lewis (Zuni/Tlingit/PhD) is a Mother, Independent Curator and Assistant Professor in the University of Washington’s Information School. Miranda has worked with tribal, state and national museums and has curated exhibits for the Frye Art Museum in Seattle and the Museum of Glass in Tacoma. She teaches classes about Indigenous Art and Indigenous Knowledge, and, about Cross Cultural Concepts of Leadership. Miranda loves coffee and all the beads.

Image of Nemasia Moala and Barbara Nelson

Nemasia Moala and Barbara Nelson

Tribal Language Revitalization/Power of Native Languages

Nemasia Moala (Sháaxeidee Tláa) was born and raised in Juneau, Alaska. She is Teikweidi (Brown Bear), Shaanax Hít, Xóots Hít from the Tlingit tribe of Angoon. Nemasia is also Aleut from her father’s side of St. Paul Alaska. Nemasia earned her Bachelor of Liberal Arts interdisciplinary studies in Art/Lingit Language at the University of Alaska Southeast in 2014. Before moving to Renton, Nemasia taught Beginning Lingit at Thunder Mountain High School / Juneau School District. Currently, Nemasia is the Native Education Coordinator for the Renton School District. Nemasia and her husband Barry Moala (Tongan) have one child, Zion (Tsanataa) Moala who attends the Renton School District (2nd grade).

Barbara Cadiente-Nelson is the vice president of F/V Star of the Sea, Inc., a family-owned business. She is a board member with the Douglas Indian Association (IRA); a grants administrator, Equity Committee, for the Juneau School District; member of the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites (OCDS); and a member of the Alaska Native Sisterhood Camp 2. Cadiente-Nelson is X’esh.k’uk’e, Eagle/Brown Bear, Shaanux Hit (Valley House), Angoon Kwaan. She is the daughter of Taaka (Andres Cadiente Sr., L’eeneidi) and Jigei Tlaa (Irene Hunter Cadiente, Teikweidi). She is married to Norval Nelson Jr. (Aleut, L’eeneidi), and has four children, Norene, Norval III, Nicholas, Nemasia and numerous grandchildren. She earned a Master of Arts in teaching, secondary education, from the University of Alaska Southeast, and a Bachelor of Arts in communication from Western Illinois University; Language Arts Teaching Certificate.

Image of Abriel Johnny Rodriguez

Abriel Johnny Rodriguez

yəhaw̓: Native Artists Rock the World

Abriel Johnny (Cowichan/Tlinigt) is a Jingle dress dancer, fashion (clothing & jewelry) designer, and serves on the Board of Directors for United Indians of All Tribes Foundation. She has a B.A in Law and Policy from University of Washington which she paid for in large part through her fashion and art sales. She recently completed her Masters of Political Management from George Washington University. She is currently the Community and Tribal Engagement Manager at HealthierHere working to center tribal voice within Healthcare policy in King County.

Image of Abriel Johnny Rodriguez

Mary Willoughby

College Access/Preparedness/Scholarships & Native Student Experience

Mary Willoughby was born in Alberta, Canada on the Blood Reservation, she’s a Blood member and a descendant of the Blackfeet Tribe. She graduated with her Bachelor’s degree in Education from Heritage University and has taught for two years in the Highline School District. Her next step in education is obtaining her Master’s Degree in Teaching at the University of Washington. In her free time she loves spending time with her family and organizing homeless outreaches for the less unfortunate. Mary believes education and a helping heart is key to changing the world around her.

Image of Shanoa Pinkham

Shanoa Pinkham

Youth Focused Mental Health

Shanoa Pinkham is enrolled in the Yakama Nation and is also of Southern Cheyenne descent. Her parents are Glen and Yvette Pinkham whom she loves and adores, as well as her two brothers. She grew up on the Yakama Indian Reservation and in Seattle and has always strived to stay grounded in the Native community. While in Seattle she has tirelessly volunteered to organize youth workshops and outreach through the Urban Native Education Alliance, is an alumna performer with Red Eagle Soaring Native Youth Theater and served as Student Board Member of Longhouse Media. She double-majored with a B.A. degree in Communication and American Indian Studies from the University of Washington in 2013. While at UW, she organized, advocated for Native cultural events as the American Indian Student Commission Director, and as a junior in college she received double ambassadorships by serving her nation as Miss Yakama Nation 2011-2012 and national title as Miss Indian Nations XIX.

Shanoa also served an 18-month service mission with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint where she demonstrated compassion, dedication, and selfless service. She was also part of the Native Action Network’s Leadership Cohort where she worked on a short film project on the American Indian Women Service League. She is currently a Youth Coordinator at the Seattle Indian Health Board where she oversees the All My Relations Project, an effort to raise awareness about suicide prevention among Native youth. She is passionate about the powerful impact of stories and believes in empowering Native youth to know, learn and live their stories. She enjoys deconstructing media messages in film, eating indigenous foods (her favorite is salmon and huckleberry pie) and jogging.

Image of Rosalie Fish

Rosalie Fish

College Access/Preparedness/Scholarships & Native Student Experience

Rosalie Fish is from the Muckleshoot Reservation and is a senior at Muckleshoot Tribal School. She attends Green River College through running start and is the president of the Native American Student Organization (NASO). She runs cross-country and track, and was part of the Wings Of America National team last winter. She will be continuing her running career in college at Iowa Central as a signed athlete.

Image of Mia Bull

Mia Vesuvia Bull

Tribal Language Revitalization/Power of Native Languages & College Student Session/Indigenous Student Association

Mia Vesuvia Bull is Navajo, born of Ta’neeszahnii, the Tangle clan, and for Tódíchʼ íi’nii. the Bitterwater clan. Mia was born in Ft. Defiance, Arizona, partially raised on the Navajo reservation in Chinle, Arizona and Salt Lake City, Utah, and moved to the Northwest when she was 14 years old. She began working at Highline College as a student worker in 2016 at the front desk in the Advising center, assisting students with beginning their collegiate careers. She graduated from Highline with an Associates in Accounting, and is currently participating in the Global Trade & Logistics Baccalaureate program. Mia is also a committee member of both the South King County Native Coalition and Native Student Success Summit. This will be the second year she has participated in the planning, and commencement of the annual Native Student Success Summit, and looks forward to working with Native youth through encouragement and support with tools and resources for Native student success and leadership development. Hózhóogo naanéidaał doo, Ahéhee’! ~ May we walk in beauty, thank you!

Image of Autumn McCloud

Autumn McCloud

Tribal Language Revitalization/Power of Native Languages

Autumn McCloud is a member of the Confederated Tribes of Yakama and is a descendent from the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe. She is married to Clinton McCloud and comes from the Andy/Mesplie family from Yakama and the Cross/KingGeorge Family in Muckleshoot. Autumn has four children ranging from the ages of 10 months to 18 years old. Currently, she teaches at the Muckleshoot Tribal School as a high School Southern Lushootseed Teacher. In 2012, Autumn completed her Bachelors of Arts and Sciences at University of Washington, Tacoma and worked on her teaching certification in Southern Lushootseed. She continued her education by attending a Master’s Program in Education at Antioch and a general education teaching certificate program at Central Washington University. Autumn and her family have participated in the annual canoe journey since 2004.

Image of Leander Yazzie

Leander Yazzie

Access/Preparedness/Scholarships & Native Student Experience

Leander Yazzie is a Completion Advisor at Green River College in Auburn Washington. He is a member of the Great Navajo Nation. Leander is Tódích’íi’nii (Bitter Water), born for Tó’aheedlííníí (Water Flows Together), his maternal grandfather is of the Tábaahá (Water’s Edge), and paternal grandfather is of the Tsénjíkíní (Honey Combed Rock People of the Cliff Dwellers) clans. Leander has been working for Green River College for the past 5 years and held positions within the Workforce Education and Advising Departments. In addition to his experience in the civilian sector he is an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran. Exited the United States Army as a Staff Sergeant at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
Throughout Leander’s career in higher education he has always advocated for Native American students within WA state by attending state community and technical college (CTC) meetings and conferences. Leander has also facilitated Native American student, faculty, and staff groups at annual Student of Color Conference and the Faculty & Staff of Color Conference.

Leander’s work in Washington will one day empower and influence more Native students to obtain a degree or trade that will enable them to be competitive within the workforce. In addition, enhance their ability and skill sets to positively contribute to their tribal communities.

Image of Geneva Alfonso Mendez

Geneva Alfonso Mendez

Physical Movement/Community Builder/Health & Wellness

Geneva Alfonso Mendez was born in Crow Agency, Montana on the Crow Indian Reservation and Raised in the Seattle area. She just completed her Associates of Arts with an emphasis in Diversity and Globalism at Highline College. She is Transfering this fall to Montana State University to pursue a Major in Liberal Studies.

At Highline College, she led both the Indigenous Peoples Club and the Latinx Student Association. She has a passion for creating cultural awareness in her community. She has been involved in the planning for the Native Student Success Summit in previous years and helped put on the Re-indigenizing Spaces workshops this past year.