Announcing the 2020 CNAY-Columbia Scholars

The Center for Native American Youth, in partnership with Columbia University’s Summer Immersion Program for High School Students, selected one Native high school student to attend a 3-week online pre-college program during summer 2020. CNAY has been grateful for our partnership with Columbia University and their recognition of the talents, strength, and knowledge Native youth bring to higher education.  

We are proud to announce the selection of Lily Painter (18), “Ah-Kee-Hahp’ay-Mah” (Cute Flower Girl), Kiowa, Choctaw, Chickasaw and an enrolled member of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska.

This summer, Lily will be attending Columbia University’s Creative Writing: Advanced Workshop this summer online. She hopes to take this course to grow in her writing abilities and further her plans to give back to the Native community.  

An avid scholar, activist, writer, and passionate about photography, Painter is a senior at Anadarko High School in Oklahoma. She serves as the President of the National Honor Society and was named the co-Valedictorian for her graduating class.

In February 2020, she was appointed by Senator Darcy Jech to serve as a page for the Oklahoma State Senate’s 2nd Session of the 57th Legislature for a four day service period. Painter is the recipient of many awards, she received the President of the Simply Empowered Women’s organization award; that works to promote independence and empowerment of young women in her school district as well as the Scholastic Writing Award for her personal essay and memoir titled, I Am Not a Dead Piece of History.  

She uses her voice and words to speak out on the challenges that impact her community and bring awareness and education about Indigenous culture. Painter says she will continue to share her poetry, memoirs, and future writings that are inspired from her culture.  

From a very early age, she was raised with a deep immersion in the traditions of her people of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma. As a young lady, Painter understands the responsibility and values of what it means to be a true Kiowa. Her heritage and the roots of her foundation as a Native young woman are powerful.

Painter has made it one of her main missions in life to speak out on issues that plague the Indigenous communities, and hopes gain tools from this scholarship to grow her platform and share her poetry, memoirs, and other future writings inspired by her Native culture. Painter hopes to use this opportunity to grow in her abilities and further her plans to give back to the Native community.