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Dina Horwedel, Director of Public Education, American Indian College Fund, 303-426-8900,

Colleen R. Billiot, Public Education Coordinator, American Indian College Fund, 720-214-2569,

Chelysa Owens-Cyr Named Grand Prize Winner of Creative Native Competition

Attends the Center for Native American Youth’s State of Native Youth Reception in Washington, D.C.

Chelysa Owens-Cyr, a member of the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Dakota Sioux/Pasqua First Nations Cree Nations and a college student at Fort Peck Community College in Montana, created “Unity,” the winning design in the American Indian College Fund’s 2021 Tribal College Blanket Contest.

Chelysa Owens-Cyr (Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux, Pasqua First Nations Plains Cree and Saulteaux)

December 13, 2022, Denver, Colo. – The Center for Native American Youth (CNAY) named Chelysa Owens-Cyr (Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux, Pasqua First Nations Plains Cree and Saulteaux) as its 2022 Creative Native Grand Prize Winner. The Creative Native is an annual Call for Art event within CNAY’s Generation Indigenous program. It provides space and support to Indigenous artists ages 5-24 and the chance to gain national recognition and a monetary award. The 2022 theme was “identity.”

Chelysa’s piece, titled “Bloom,” is a self-portrait that represents her personal growth with blooming flowers, open arms, and butterflies representing a healed soul and new beginnings. “The overall visual I wanted the piece to show is that no matter where you’re at in life, no matter what hardships you are going through, you have the ability to heal, the ability to start over. When we go through our different stages in life, relationships, hardships, pain, love, etcetera… we bloom through it all.”

Chelysa has certainly bloomed as an artist and entrepreneur. In 2021 her design “Unity” won the Tribal College Blanket Competition held by the American Indian College Fund and Pendleton Woolen Mills. She also completed her degree in business administration and general studies in May 2021 at Ft. Peck Community College, a tribal college on her home reservation in Montana. She has since started her own small business selling merchandise under her brand Chief’n and also works as freelance artist.

As the Grand Prize Winner of Creative Native, Chelysa will receive $1,000 and serve as a Gen-I Ambassador. According to Chelysa, ambassadors serve as representatives of their communities who volunteer where needed and help strengthen the voices of Native youth. The program helps ambassadors to develop leadership skills and create positive change. Chelysa was also flown to Washington, D.C. for the November 14th release of a report with her winning artwork on the cover. She says the event and overarching GEN-I program are helping her to become more educated on issues facing Native communities and helping her contribute to creating change.

“Educated Natives with open minds, a voice, and determination is what we need to make a better future not only for ourselves, but for future generations,” Chelysa said.

About the American Indian College Fund—The American Indian College Fund has been the nation’s largest charity supporting Native higher education for 33 years. The College Fund believes “Education is the answer” and provided $14.45 million in scholarships and other direct student support to American Indian students in 2021-22. Since its founding in 1989 the College Fund has provided more than $284 million in scholarships and program, community, and tribal college support. The College Fund also supports a variety of academic and support programs at the nation’s 35 accredited tribal colleges and universities, which are located on or near Indian reservations, ensuring students have the tools to graduate and succeed in their careers. The College Fund consistently receives top ratings from independent charity evaluators and is one of the nation’s top 100 charities named to the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance. For more information about the American Indian College Fund, please visit

Journalists—The American Indian College Fund does not use the acronym AICF. On second reference, please use the College Fund.

Photo: Chelysa Owens-Cyr (Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux, Pasqua First Nations Plains Cree and Saulteaux)

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