Ayona Hight, a Southern Ute tribal member and fourth-grade student at Ignacio Elementary School, was the recipient Friday, May 24 of the 29th annual Elbert J. Floyd Award, a scholarship given to an outstanding tribal-member student.
The presentation took place before the Southern Ute Indian Tribal Council in the Council Chambers. The Floyd family has awarded a scholarship each year since the passing of Elbert J. Floyd in 1985, in honor of his longtime relationship with the tribe. Presenting the award this year were three of Floyd’s grandsons: David Floyd, Kenneth Floyd and Donald Floyd.
“Elbert J. and his wife, Frances, both strongly believed in education,” Donald Floyd said.
David Floyd echoed the sentiment, adding, “My brothers and I have waited a great many years to present this award.”
Emotions ran high as the Floyd family present Hight with the award.
“Congratulations,” Chairman Jimmy R. Newton Jr. said. “You should be proud of your achievements.”
Councilman Aaron V. Torres said he sees future leadership potential in Hight, perhaps one day as a member of the council.
“Education is very important,” he said. “It’s something that we have to have to gain more knowledge, to become future leaders.”
Howard D. Richards, councilman and former chairman, recalled working his first job as a young man cutting grass for Elbert J. Floyd.
“Him and I went back a long ways,” he said, adding that it takes a special person to win the scholarship. “Not everybody gets that privilege and honor.”
Councilman Alex Cloud encouraged Hight to remember the role her family plays in her success.
“Always tell your family you love them, because they support you in everything you do,” he said.
Award recipients must first be nominated by their teachers for consideration, said Education Department Director La Titia Taylor. The tribe’s chairman then reviews all nominees and makes a final selection each year, she said.
“Always remember that you are Nuche,” Newton told Hight. “This is a demonstration that Indian and non-Indian worlds can exist together through our children.”