Native Village
Youth and Education news
Volume 2   April 2011

John Gritts Selected as NIEA Elder of the Year
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John Gritts (Cherokee) was named "Male Elder of the Year" last October by the The National Indian Education Association (NIEA).

Gritts is well known in the tribal college community. He has spent almost 40 years working for  Indian education:

Black Hills State University, 1973-1997;
American Indian College Fund  9 years;
Institute for American Indian Arts -2 years.

Gritts currently works for the DOE's Federal Student Aid in Denver. (Department Of Education) He considers it the fitting culmination of his career. He uses the knowledge he's gained to help tribal colleges administer their Federal Student Aid, he says.

David Cournoyer said that Gritts has helped hundreds -- if not thousands -- of Indian students navigate the “impossibly complicated” financial aid system.

“Dear Big John has been a humble old soul within ever since I have known him – a young man with an elder’s heart… Since his ponytail turned silver, he’s finally old enough to nominate as an elder.” Charitina Fritzler who nominated Mr. Gritts.
“John possesses the wisdom, compassion, and understanding of a long life dedicated to helping others.”  Rick Waters
“John is every student’s Indian uncle – a caring individual and role model, a smart and skilled bureaucrat who isn’t fazed by red tape, and a fine storyteller with a great sense of humor.” David Cournoyer

Gritts, 62, has three sons who have either graduated or are attending Salish Kootenai College.

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