Northwestern University: Two undergraduates receive Udall awards

Two Northwestern University undergraduate students — Isabella Twocrow and Kadin Mills — have received national recognition from the Morris K. and Stewart L. Udall Foundation, a federal agency that supports study in fields related to the environment, tribal public policy and Native American health care.

Twocrow is Northwestern’s first-ever recipient of the Udall’s Native American Congressional Internship. The Udall Foundation and the Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management and Policy select 11 students annually to spend a summer in Washington, D.C. Students in the program work alongside Native American and Indigenous policymakers to gain practical experience with the federal legislative process in order to understand the relationship between Native Tribes and the U.S. federal government.

Mills received the 2022 Udall Undergraduate Scholarship, which is awarded to students for leadership, public service and commitment to issues related to Native American nations or to the environment. Northwestern’s first-ever Native recipient of the Udall Scholarship, Mills will put the $7,000 award toward tuition, housing and other expenses while finishing his degree. This August, Mills also will join the other Udall Scholars and alumni at the annual Udall Scholar Orientation in Arizona, where he will meet with community leaders in environmental fields, tribal health care and governance.

Both Twocrow and Mills are Native American students at Northwestern, where they are highly active in the Center for Native American and Indigenous Research (CNAIR) and the Native American and Indigenous Student Alliance (NAISA).

“These awards are the most prestigious of their kinds,” said Patty Loew, CNAIR’s founding director and professor in the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communication. “We are so proud of them. Their selection is a fine reflection of the effort Northwestern has put into raising awareness of Native American research, teaching and outreach.”

Isabella Twocrow
A member of the Ho-Chunk Nation and co-chair of NAISA, Twocrow is a junior, studying learning and organizational change in the School of Education and Social Policy, with a minor in Native American and Indigenous studies. After graduation, Twocrow plans to work in education policy to help reform tribal education systems, ensuring that Native American and Indigenous students have equitable access to higher education. She discovered this passion in high school, while navigating the college application process. Now, Twocrow works in undergraduate admissions as a student outreach coordinator for Native American and Indigenous students and as a project management aide in the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion, where she is currently co-designing a “Native 101” workshop for the campus community.

“It is important to defend our sovereignty and treaty rights. I want to protect our peoples’ rights to land, water, healthcare and education.” — Isabella Twocrow

“I am honored and privileged to have received this internship in D.C. with the Udall Foundation and am eager to explore, experience and learn more about tribal public policy,” Twocrow said. “I am beyond grateful to have this opportunity and cannot say ‘thank you’ enough for the support I have had here at Northwestern — from NAISA, CNAIR and other Native American and Indigenous faculty.”

With the Udall Internship, she hopes to learn research and networking skills while working for the federal government. These skills will help her as she prepares for a future career in law and policy.

“With my Northwestern degree and with the knowledge I learn from the Udall Internship, I hope to serve tribal nations including my own, the Ho-Chunk Nation,” Twocrow said. “It is important to defend our sovereignty and treaty rights. I want to protect our peoples’ rights to land, water, healthcare and education. The education of our youth, the Indigenous way, is vital to rebuilding and supporting our Native nations, and I hope my work at Northwestern and in D.C. can help in any way.”

Kadin Mills
A first descendent of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, Mills is a sophomore studying journalism at Medill and Native American studies at the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. He is passionate about social and climate justice — and furthering these causes through literature, storytelling and culture. On campus, Mills writes for the Daily Northwestern and serves as the head of communications for NAISA.

When Mills learned he received the Udall Scholarship, he and Loew were visiting the Poarch Creek Reservation in Mobile, Alabama, as part of a climate change project funded by the National Science Foundation.

“When I learned I was chosen, we screamed for joy in the courtyard.” — Kadin Mills

“I am thrilled to have been chosen for the Udall award in Michigan,” Mills said. “When I learned I was chosen, we screamed for joy in the courtyard of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians’ tribal administration buildings. I will always remember that and the lunch we had in celebration. From then on, Patty introduced me as the ‘newest Udall Scholar.’ I thank the Native community at Northwestern and my loved ones for pushing me and believing in me.”

In his spare time, Mills enjoys engaging with the arts — including singing, musical theater, playing the saxophone, sewing and creating beadwork. He is committed to pursuing a career related to tribal public policy.