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Melvin Monette-Barajas is an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indian in North Dakota and founded Indigenous Education, Inc. in February of 2016 for the sole purpose to administer the Cobell Scholarship Program on behalf of special trustees. With a BS and MS from the University of North Dakota where he also worked in American Indian Student Services; and, with his work for the Minnesota Department of Education Office of Indian Education Minnesota Indian Scholarship Programs, the University of Minnesota School of Public Health and the American Indian Graduate Center, he brought a wealth of experience to the new nonprofit. The Cobell Scholarship Program is funded through a set-aside fund as a result of the Cobell v. Salazar Settlement with the federal government on behalf of American Indian and Alaska Native people. Opening the business in his backyard and growing to a staff of 9 to include a research department, student intervention program and national outreach, Melvin is proud of the over 2900 students funded with over $21M across the world in 4 short years. The program will continue to grow. Melvin is a past President for the National Indian Education Association, past Chair for the Native, Aboriginal and Indigenous Network for ACPA, a UND Native American Alumni of Distinction, current co-Chair for the 2Spirit Advisory Task Force for the National Congress of American Indians but is most proud of the work he does away from the office as Grandpa, Dad, Husband and Son. Melvin lives in Albuquerque New Mexico with his husband, John, where they care for John’s mother, support their daughter’s acting career and the others’ management career while traveling often with their grandsons around the county in an RV.


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