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Cholena Wright

Klamath Tribes member Cholena Wright will serve as the 2019-20 Hatfield Fellow through a congressional placement in Congressman peter DeFazio’s office.

GRAND RONDE – Cholena Wright a member of the Klamath Tribes and a resident of Chiloquin, has been chosen as the 2019-20 Hatfield Fellow, according to a news release from the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde and the Spirit Mountain Community Fund.

Wright is a graduate of the University of Oregon where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and a minor in native studies. She has a passion for education, indigenous studies and building tribal nations. She is very active in Indian country, with past work as the Native American recruitment coordinator and director of the Native American Student Union at the University of Oregon, as well as serving on the board for the Oregon Indian Education Association. Wright also interned in Peter DeFazio’s District Office, working as the staff assistant for Veterans Affairs in 2015-16.

The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde established the Mark O. Hatfield Fellowship in 1998 as a living tribute to Senator Hatfield to honor his accomplishments as governor of Oregon and United States senator. Each year, the Spirit Mountain Community Fund sponsors a highly motivated Native American to serve as the Hatfield Fellow, and intern in a congressional office for an eight-month term. Placement of the Fellow traditionally rotates through the Oregon congressional delegation to enhance the mutual understanding between leadership in Washington, D.C. and Indian country.

Orientation, placement

Wright begins her Fellowship in November with a month-long orientation at the American Political Science Association (APSA) in Washington, D.C. Following orientation, she will assume her congressional placement in Congressman Peter DeFazio’s office. This is the congressman’s second Hatfield Fellow.

“Congratulations to Cholena Wright, the 2019/20 Hatfield Fellow — we’re excited to welcome CC back to the team,” said DeFazio. “CC is a proven leader as demonstrated through her work in her community, as a student at the University of Oregon and most recently Coordinator of Native American Recruitment. She was an asset to my Veterans Affairs casework team during her time in my Eugene office several years ago, and I’m glad she’s coming back to learn more about the legislative process in our D.C. office. Her passion for public service, law and public policy will serve her well in this fellowship and will benefit the 4th Congressional District as she works with us to respond to the needs of my constituents. The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde and the Spirit Mountain Community Fund’s Hatfield Fellowship is a distinguished program that has brought mutual benefit for years to fellows, Pacific Northwest Tribes and Oregonians.”

Leadership resilience

Wright looks forward to being a part of the Congressman’s team again to gain a deeper understanding of the government-to-government relationship between tribal, state and federal governments and to gain the practical experience needed to navigate tribal politics and policy.

“I am excited by the prospect of working in a bipartisan environment and experiencing the challenges of working with those with whom I may disagree. This experience will make me a more resilient leader,” said Wright. “Adversity and struggle are some of the most effective teachers. I would love the opportunity to embrace political difference and advocate on behalf of the interests of The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde and Indian Country in general.”

Wright’s future plans include earning a joint PhD/JD in indigenous studies with a research emphasis on indigenous governance and Klamath feminism, and a JD in American Indian law. She would like to work as a professor and/or policy analyst, with hopes to someday move back to her tribal community and serve the tribal government and Klamath people directly.