Maria Copa Indigenous Scholarship Honors Miwok Elder

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Dominican University of California has established a full tuition scholarship named for Maria Copa, the Coast Miwok elder born in the mid-1800s in Marin County. The scholarship covers full tuition for admitted first-year and transfer students seeking an undergraduate degree at Dominican.

As an acknowledgement that Dominican occupies the unceded ancestral land of past, present, and future Coast Miwok people, individuals with documented Coast Miwok ancestry will be given priority, says Stacy Poe, Executive Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Dominican.

“This scholarship expresses Dominican’s gratitude and appreciation for the historical, political, and cultural legacies of the Coast Miwok communities specifically and Indigenous communities broadly, Poe says. “The scholarship makes the University’s rich educational experiences available to qualified Coast Miwok and other qualified Indigenous students.”

More information about the Maria Copa Indigenous Scholarship is available here.

Up to two concurrent full-tuition scholarships will be available for degree-seeking undergraduate students enrolled full-time in an academic program.

Eligibility includes individuals who are enrolled members of an Indigenous tribe that is federally or state recognized; individuals who are able to provide a letter from a tribal council, including a spiritual non-profit tribal council and/or Indigenous-led councils; individuals who self-identify as an Indigenous community member and provide a letter from an Indigenous community member may also be considered. Federal documentation from the Bureau of Indian Affairs is acceptable, but not required.

 The scholarship is one result of ongoing work by the University’s Diversity Action Group, the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and Dominican’s Indigenous Partnership Circle working group. After listening to indigenous community members, researching area institutions’ statements and best practices, the working group developed a land acknowledgement statement in September, 2021.

With the goal of going beyond developing an acknowledgement statement, the Indigenous Partnership Circle is focused on ongoing work with Indigenous communities.

For the past two years, Dominican has celebrated Indigenous Peoples’ Day in partnership with the Coast Miwok Tribal Council of Marin and larger indigenous community groups, including the Indigenous Healing Center, Marin Indian Alliance, Museum of the American India, and Alliance for Felix Cove.

In 2021, partnership with the Museum of the American Indian in Novato and the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer in San Rafael, Dominican’s Service-Learning Program co-sponsored virtual panel discussion with local Indigenous leaders and advocates titled “Land Acknowledgment is Only the Start.”

On April 26, the Coast Miwok Tribal Council of Marin and Dominican will recognize Earth Day by presenting an Indigenous Knowledge event titled “The Gift of Fire.” 

From noon-1:30 p.m., members of the local Indigenous community will gather on the Anne Hathaway Lawn to challenge the narrative about fire and speak about the history of the people of this land, the view of the landscape, and how the Coast Miwok people maintained the land for thousands of years through Indigenous ecological practices.

Photo above of Sky Road Webb of Coast Miwok Tribal Council of Marin addressing the audience at the 2021 Indigenous Peoples' Day ceremony at Dominican.

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