The UNM Center for Environmental Arts and Humanities announces 2023-2024 Native American Environmental Arts and Humanities Scholarships

The UNM Center for Environmental Arts and Humanities (CEAH) in the Department of Art is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2023-2024 Native American Environmental Arts and Humanities Scholarship for undergraduate students. There are five recipients this year: Kahleya Chapman (Zuni Pueblo); Sa’angna Mi’ila-Hamalu Gollette (Acjachemen Nation); Samuel Shorty (Navajo Nation); Jasmine Toledo (Navajo Nation); and Daniel Tso-Begay (Navajo Nation). The recipients collectively span from Freshman to Senior years. And they are studying Studio Arts, Film and Digital Arts, Environmental Science, Earth and Planetary Sciences, and Sustainability Studies.

Three of the recipients received the same high cumulative scores from the selection committee; while the fourth recipient, just 1 point below that score; and the fifth recipient, just 3 points below that. The cumulative scores are so close to each other that the Center has decided to award the same amount to all five recipients, $3,000 each, with a total award amount of $15,000.

The Center for Environmental Arts and Humanities expresses our deepest appreciation to the members of the selection committee. Three Indigenous faculty members in the Department of Art thoughtfully reviewed the applications, ranked the candidates, and offered their assessments: Associate Professor Clarence Cruz (Tewa from Ohkay Owingeh, formerly known as San Juan Pueblo), Ceramics; Dr. Marcella Ernest (Ojibwe), Assistant Professor, Art History; and Aaron Fry (Cherokee and Chickasaw), Lecturer II, Art History. We also thank Ryan Henel, Research Lecturer III, CEAH, for facilitating the scholarship process this year.

The Native American Environmental Arts and Humanities Scholarship for undergraduate students at UNM is made possible with a grant from the Mellon Foundation.

The Center for Environmental Arts and Humanities congratulates and celebrates Daniel, Jasmine, Kahleya, Sa’angna, and Samuel, and wish them our very best as they work toward completing their bachelor’s degree at UNM this year or continue on to the next year in their study. We look forward to sharing more of their work later this year, with new works that they may create with support from the scholarship. For now, we are sharing below a small sampling—images and words—drawn from their applications.

Jasmine Toledo, “Stolen”, Digital art, 8.5”x 5.5”, 2023.

“My education goals are to complete college with a degree in both of my fields, build a strong network and gain practical experience overall. I come from a small community on the reservation and hope to give back to my community once I am finished with my schooling. I am currently a full-time student at UNM, but once I complete my degree, I plan to find a job and do community work as well. In the past I worked for the Northern Navajo Farm Revitalization Project’s 2021 Summer Youth Internship which helped me gain new involvement and appreciation for farming and fully take advantage of the beneficial opportunities in my surroundings. This scholarship fund will aid my personal financial needs, that will contribute to my degree.”
—Jasmine Toledo

Samuel Shorty (Diné), Presence and Myself.

“Staring at the screen, watching flickering images that disappear in my mind, all weaving different times and places together. My name is Samuel Shorty, and I am Bitahnii Nishlii Tachinii Basashiin. I am Diné who comes from the Navajo nation, specifically from Two Grey Hills which is near Newcomb, New Mexico. My home community is known for its rug weaving artists, who are known for their black, grey and white rugs that contain meaningful designs and intricate patterns. Moreover, I am inspired by how they communicate stories through the rug weaving medium. Presently, I am a junior student at the University of New Mexico (UNM), studying for a bachelor’s in film and digital arts and a minor in arts leadership and business. I have an interest in making short films and taking photographs. I feel stronger and empowered to work on film because I am representing my community in the arts.”
—Samuel Shorty

Daniel Tso-Begay (Navajo Nation) , “Walk in Beauty”, Digital Image, 19”x13”, 2023

“Growing up on the Navajo Reservation, without a lot of resources and limited opportunities, my parents and local elders have always stressed the importance of higher education in order to make something of myself, and to come back to help the people. I am currently a Junior pursuing a BFA in Studio Arts with a concentration in Photography, aiming for a career in fashion photography. Fashion photography aside, a lot of my academic work, focuses a lot on various Indigenous issues, ranging from economic to environmental issues. In doing so, I find that my work helps raise awareness and educates peoples from all different walks of life, which further fuels my desire to find a way to help my people of White Mesa/ those affected by the Bennett Freeze, through the use of setting up or working with programs that help give water or electricity to the people, and overall bettering the wellbeing of the land and the people.”
—Daniel Tso-Begay

Sa’angna Mi’ila-Hamalu Gollette, Bursting With Beauty, Overture of a Storm, Celestial Thorns

“My name is Sa’angna Mi’ila-Hamalu Gollette. Sa’angna is a village in my tribe, Acjachemen, located between Marina Del Rey and Santa Monica, California. Mi’ila-Hamalu comes from the Acjachemen language translating to ‘sense of touch’. As an Indigenous woman holding meaning in their name, I find that it mirrors the person I have become—a woman dedicated to fostering community, passionate about learning, communicating, and connecting through personal interactions. I recovered my passion for creativity through hands-on learning. I realized I could blend art, science, and communication together to foster knowledge for others who have a hard time sitting in STEM lecture courses. I now plan to attend graduate school to get my teaching license and create more curriculum in hands-on STEM learning for children and the public.”
—Sa’angna Mi’ila-Hamalu Gollette

Kahleya Chapman, “Water is Life” Acrylic Canvas painting, 10” x 8”, 2023

“My name is Kahleya Chapman, and I am from Zuni, New Mexico. I am a first-year student at the University of New Mexico majoring in environmental science. My academic goal is to graduate with my B.S. in environmental science, and I am still deciding whether to pursue a master’s degree or go to law school after my bachelor’s degree. My career goal is to become a hydrologist and use my knowledge of water management and conservation on the Zuni Reservation. I have seen bodies of water disappear and reappear; I want to understand why this happens. I want to give back to my home community while doing something I am passionate about, preserving water.”
—Kahleya Chapman