January 24, 2014
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — One of Cherokee Nation’s top education officials has been named a Sequoyah Fellow by Northeastern State University. The honorary position had only ever been held by the late Principal Chief Wilma Mankiller.
Dr. Neil Morton, a former teacher, school superintendent and university professor who has worked for the Cherokee Nation for more than a decade, was officially named as a fellow Wednesday during a small reception in Seminary Hall.
“I’m very honored to be working with Northeastern State University again, where I spent 28 years before leaving to work full time for the tribe,” said Morton, senior advisor for education services. “I look forward to providing a service that will be fulfilling and beneficial to all Native American students.”
Morton, of Stilwell, will keep an office at NSU and serve as an advisor on the liberal arts, language and indigenous studies programs while continuing his position with the tribe. He will also be an immediate contact between the tribe and university for future endeavors.
“We are going to benefit from Dr. Morton’s 58 years of experience, his wisdom, his enthusiasm and his charisma, both as an institution and as a region,” Northeastern State University President Steve Turner said. “He has done so much already, and he has so much more to offer. We appreciate those at the Cherokee Nation that have allowed this partnership to happen.”
The Cherokee Nation has contracts with NSU, including a Cherokee language program to become certified Cherokee language teachers, the Cherokee Promise Scholarship Program, the school’s robotics program and the Rural Eye Program.
During the fall 2013 semester, NSU was home to 759 Cherokee Nation scholarship recipients, including 41 first-generation college students in the Cherokee Promise Scholarship Program. Altogether, Cherokee Nation scholarships provided the university with more than $1.5 million in tuition and fees.
“The time is right, more so than ever before, for some great things to occur among NSU and Native American tribes,” said Morton. “It can start with a cooperative effort between NSU and the Cherokee Nation and then grow to other tribes, and it will grow quickly.”