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Cherokee Basket Wolftown EBCI 1960s

INAS Announces Ruth Pack Scholarships for Third Year

Chris Goeckel, INAS scholarship fund donor

“INAS is delighted to offer the Ruth Pack Scholarships for the third year at the University of Georgia,” said INAS Director LeAnne Howe, (Choctaw Nation). “Each scholarship is intended to support Native students’ research and education at the university of Georgia.”

The Institute of Native American Studies (INAS) received a generous gift to recruit and support Native American students at the university from UGA alumnus Chris Goeckel (BBA’84, pictured) who enjoyed a successful career in banking before moving into the software industry in the late 1990s. Today he continues to work internationally, consulting across a variety of different industries. 

"My great-grandmother was a strong woman that had a significant influence in my maternal family’s lives, and I wanted to support and honor Ruth Pack and the Cherokee Nation," Goeckel said. “While continuing my family research over the years and reading Dr. Saunt’s books about the forced removal of American Indian tribes across the Southeast, I feel more strongly than ever about the importance of the Native American tribes to the early success of the United States and connecting that history to our university.”

Claudio Saunt, Richard B. Russell Professor of American History at UGA, is an INAS Faculty Affiliate and author of A New Order of Things (1999), West of the Revolution (2014), and Black White and Indian (2005). His most recent book, Unworthy Republic (2020), was awarded the Bancroft Prize and the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award and was a finalist for the National Book Award.

“UGA currently has a very modest ratio of Native students on campus, and we think Chris’ generous support can help introduce fundamental change to this campus demographic,” said LeAnne Howe, Eidson Distinguished Professor in American Literature, and Interim Director of the Institute of Native American Studies. “There is great opportunity to bring more Native students into the UGA family, and also expand the learning environment on campus for all UGA students.”

The Ruth Pack scholarship is designed to support graduate and undergraduate students from across the United States that come to study at UGA, and is named for Chris Goeckel’s great grandmother.  The award promotes the importance of the Native American Studies curriculum for the UGA community. Eligible applicants include Native American students, INAS Certificate students, and students whose community-based research is focused on Native American topics and issues.

UGA’s Institute of Native American Studies (INAS) is one of the few such programs in the Southeast, allowing students to add a certificate demonstrating expertise in Native American Studies alongside tradition disciplines and majors. Faculty and scholars with Native American expertise support INAS students along their path through 18 hours of course work in Native American fields including history, literature, anthropology, philosophy, religion and related issues in the Southeast and across the Americas. UGA’s campus is located on land formerly inhabited by Muscogee and Cherokee peoples, and in proximity to Oconee National Forest, the Chattahoochee River, and the Qualla Boundary – home of the federally recognized Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. The Ruth Pack Scholarship Program, along with committed UGA faculty, allows INAS to sustain a community of student scholars. 

“The Ruth Peck Scholarship allowed me to travel to the National Archives in D.C. in the summer of 2023. While at the archives, I found original letters from my great-grandfather regarding how our tribe (Osage Nation) should handle voting eligibility in the upcoming Indian Reorganization Act (1934) ratification vote. I never expected to find something from my own ancestor there in the archives - what an incredible moment where research meets individual purpose.”                          -Elise Blasingame (Osage), PhD Candidate, Political Science 

For more information contact Associate Director James Owen, or Director LeAnne Howe at

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