MOTHER EARTH'S CHILDREN is an American Indian/Alaska Native theater group, an American Indian/Alaska Native student scholarship source, and a fiscal agent for the cooperative South Coast Indian Education Summer Camp.

MOTHER EARTH'S CHILDREN began as a way to visually interpret traditional American Indian stories. When traditional storytellers discovered that many of the students in area public schools could not visualize the actions of the traditional stories, a need was identified and an answer was found in the local American Indian/Alaska Native people who jumped in to help form the new group as its "actors".

After the group was formed in 1978 there have been several cast members that have grown MUCH older over the years before the changing eyes of the audience! Still telling stories as the group's principal storyteller, Esther Stutzman has told each story countless times during both local school assemblies as well as at Oregon and National Indian Education Association conferences. MOTHER EARTH'S CHILDREN even peformed in the Oregon Pavilion during Expo 86, the World's Fair that was held in Vancouver, B.C.!

On the way back from the first day's performance at Expo 86, one of the two vehicles overheated and had to be left in Canada. So then all fourteen cast members piled into Esther's station wagon and headed for the U.S. border crossing, with the car packed to the roof! When they pulled up to the U.S.border guard, the guard tried to keep his cool with people sitting on even more people! The guard asked the usual questions of where everyone was from, but a growing smile almost broke into a full laugh as he sent MOTHER EARTH'S CHILDREN on their uncomfortable way back home!

MOTHER EARTH'S CHILDREN is a local all-Indian theater group that visually interprets traditional stories with actors who react to the storyteller's story. The first story told by Esther is a favorite of hers called "Why Children Should Not Go Out At Night". Esther enjoys telling the story about old Dark Lady who catches children at night in her sticky Cedar bark dress. Other stories present teaching stories and creation stories that include Coyote, Bear, and other traditional characters.

MOTHER EARTH'S CHILDREN uses funds received from its performances to provide American Indian/ Alaska Native Student Achievement Awards to graduating seniors in all six school districts in Coos County. The group has also performed outside its local area to give other area programs ideas on how to start their own American Indian Repertory Theater. Funds from these performances are also used to award the MEC Student Achievement Awards.

MOTHER EARTH'S CHILDREN Offers Both Statewide & Local Student Scholarships For Outstanding Students

Since 1990, MOTHER EARTH'S CHILDREN has awarded the Ann C. Thornton Memorial Fund Scholarship to four outstanding Oregon American Indian/Alaska Native students who live in Oregon and who are enrolled (or will be enrolled) in a college or university in the Fall. Criteria for selection for these very competitive awards include: the student's grade point average (GPA), financial need, extracurricular activities in school and the community, and motivation.
Deadline for submission of these scholarships is May 1st of each year. To obtain an official application to apply for these four MEC Ann C. Thornton Memorial Fund Scholarships, please download the above pdf forms or write your request to: Ann C. Thornton Memorial Fund Scholarship, MOTHER EARTH'S CHILDREN, 90633 Cape Arago Highway, Coos Bay, Oregon 97420-7635. So that your request is honored correctly, please do not call since a printed request is more accurate if you are unable to download the pdf format form above (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader).

This year we are proud to announce the winners of two $1000 student awards for our nineteenth year of the very competititve statewide awards. The most recent winners of $1,000 awards for 2009 are: Sean Andy - Myrtle Point High School (Yup'ik) and Marneet Lewis - Portland Community College (Creek Nation).

MOTHER EARTH'S CHILDREN also awards $350 Outstanding Indian Student Achievement Awards to high school graduates that are made possible since 1982 through MOTHER EARTH'S CHILDREN's school assembly presentations in area schools. Selected by individual Coos County Indian Education parent committees, this year's 2009 winners of $350 awards are all outstanding graduating students. Congratulations to all of the above and to others who submitted outstanding applications!

No matter what grade a student is in now, this is the time to consider planning for and paying for a college education. Even though there may be no current plans to attend college, students may later decide that college is in their plans after all! Therefore, it is a good idea to consider the costs of a college education and a source to help pay for it. According to a recent article, current tuition for state residents at one of Oregon's seven public universities is about $3,500 a year, with community colleges costing roughly half that amount. Additional costs for housing and food, books and other expenses increases that amount to more than $11,000 a year. Prices for attending a private college can cost as much as $30,000 a year. Although this seems out of the reach of most families, there are still ways of working toward a college degree.

Pell grants are the most common grants that students use to help fund their college education. Currently more than half of students in higher education receive Pell grants of about $3,000 a year. Although these grants have increased over the years, because of inflation their worth has actually declined over the last two decades by about 23% while college prices rose 49% and family incomes in real terms increased by only 10%. According to a recent report of The Institute for Higher Education Policy in Washington D.C., Pell grants are the major federal funding source for low- income students but they provide about half of what they did 20 years ago. The maximum Pell grants have fallen from covering 72% of public schools costs to only about 34% of those costs.

So what can help to fund a college education? Scholarships have become a very important source of funding for college-bound students. Although no one knows exactly how much is available in outside scholarships, estimates are that there are tens of million of dollars available for those students who seek them.

Be aware that some colleges will deduct any grant or scholarship award that a student receives from other grants and work study programs that are available through colleges. This has made many private scholarship donors upset and several have not awarded funds to students until after they have registered for college. Then funds are awarded directly to students and not through the colleges so that their awards have the greatest impact on the affected students. Several colleges have become aware of this practice and are attempting to correct this problem. Hopefully this will mean that donors will be sure that their awards become a benefit for the award winners - and not just the colleges!

MOTHER EARTH'S CHILDREN, Cooperative South Coast Indian Education Summer Camp's Fiscal Agent

Since 1977 the Indian Education Programs on the Oregon south coast have operated a cooperative Indian Education Summer Camp program for its American Indian/ Alaska Native students. Begun as an idea at North Bend's Indian Education Parent Committee meeting, the idea spread throughout the region and developed through the original idea to currently involve eight south coast Indian Education programs in as many school districts.

As Coos County Indian Education Coordinator, Jim Thornton began to develop the cooperative summer program from among all of the area Indian Education program parents, teachers and students. Initially the Coos County Education Service District served as fiscal agent for the program. Later, MOTHER EARTH'S CHILDREN began serving as fiscal agent for the cooperative program at no cost to the programs. As a non-profit Oregon corporation, MOTHER EARTH'S CHILDREN provides services to American Indian/ Alaska Natives at no cost. As fiscal agent for the cooperative South Coast Indian Education Summer Camp, MOTHER EARTH'S CHILDREN can seek supplemental funding from the USDA Summer Food Service Program For Children. Other funds are provided by each of the eight Indian Education programs who sponsor their American Indian/ Alaska Native students at a cost of $135 each.


Jim Thornton, Indian Education Coordinator, Coos County Indian Education Coordination Program,
90633 Cape Arago Highway, Coos Bay OR 97420-7635