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UM News
October 28, 2013

MISSOULA – The University of Montana Department of Educational Leadership presented the Education Leadership Excellence Award to UM alumna Lynette Chandler on Oct. 17.

Chandler, a member of the Aaniiih and Nakoda tribes, is the founder of the White Clay Language Immersion School near the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation in Harlem. At one time, only a handful of people spoke the White Clay language, but through Chandler’s revitalization and preservation efforts, hundreds are fluent in the language today.

Chandler received the award at a reception held during the Montana Conference of Education Leadership in Billings.

The Educational Leadership Excellence Award was established in October 2000 to honor outstanding UM alumni. Faculty from UM’s Department of Educational Leadership review nominations and select a winner based on significant contributions to education through their vision and action.

 “Lynette is truly innovative and insightful,” said John Matt, chairman of the department. “She embodies outstanding leadership and success. We are proud to count her among our alumni.”

Francis O’Reilly, assistant professor of UM’s Department of Educational Leadership and the chairwoman of Chandler’s dissertation, presented the award and lauded Chandler’s work as an educational leader. Al Chandler, Lynette’s father-in-law, also spoke about the tremendous importance of education for Native people.

“Study hard, be prosperous and be generous,” Al Chandler remembered being told as a youth, and he recognized Lynette’s diligent efforts for the community in the context of education. “Education is the new buffalo,” he said, noting that education is as important now as buffalo were to Native people in the past.



State, Chinook, Great Falls media


Contact: John Matt, chairman, UM Department of Educational Leadership, 406-243-5610,