Moapa Band of Paiutes honor high school youth for being strong role models |

Moapa Band of Paiutes honor high school youth for being strong role models

By Fredina Drye-Romero | special to First Nation's Focus
Selena Gil
Courtesy photo

MOAPA, Nev. — The Moapa Band of Paiute Tribal Council on Dec. 16 recognized and acknowledged two outstanding students who are role models in their community and have high academic achievements in high school — Ivan Reel and Selena Gil.

These students have shown what is possible for tribal communities. The Moapa Band of Paiutes is proud to recognize their successes and contributions at such a young age.

Below is a brief bio of each student:

Selena Gil

Selena Gil is an enrolled member of the Moapa River Indian Reservation. Selena is the daughter of Melanie Guiza Jordensen, and the granddaughter of Doreen Mike Charles, who is an alumna of Stewart Indian School, class of 1966.

This year, Selena is a senior in high school, and has always been active in extracurricular activities at school since she can remember, including choir, orchestra, softball and theater. Currently, she is a leader on the Leadership Council for Orchestra. She is a hard worker and balances her academic life with her extracurricular activities, and even has a job at Home Depot. She also volunteers with her school’s career technical programs.

It is evident that Miss Gil not only takes her extracurricular activities serious, but also her academics where she is enrolled in advanced placement courses, more commonly known as AP courses, which offer college-level curricula and examinations for high school students. She is able to help tutor peers in high school, as well as students in other grade levels.

She is involved in community work in Las Vegas, Nevada, and recently became involved with the Miss Las Vegas pageant, which is known for helping young women earn scholarships for college. Next year she plans to attend the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and major in business marketing and minor in law. She feels that being involved in school and taking the types of courses she has been taking will not only help her excel, but will assist her in being college and career ready.

She has competed and placed for state and national events, and has played in the orchestra and theater for approximately 8 years. She has taken classes like the “We the People” government class. These small, but meaningful experiences will help her be competitive in a world unknown to most of her peers, as well as assist her in gaining more worldly experience in the field of studies she is passionate about, law being one. Her passion is solid and recently she was offered a chance to play at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Her grandmother motivates her, and with her knowing her grandmother’s struggles, and growing up on the Indian reservation, it makes her want to work harder. Her grandmother has shared her experiences of being a student at the Stewart Indian School, which are often fun memorable times. She recognizes that her grandmother’s experiences are far different from her own and this makes her want to work harder to make her family proud. She has been asked to give several interviews, and she never fails to mention the pride she has for her Paiute people. She brings great pride to her tribe.

Ivan Reel

Ivan Reel is a member of the Moapa Band of Paiute Tribe, in Moapa, Nevada. His parents are Tanisha Tom and Robert Reel. He has one sister, Sierra Reel, a senior in high school. He is the grandson of Debbie Love and the late Ivan Tom, who are both members of the Moapa Band of Paiute Tribe.

He is in the ninth grade, and takes attendance very seriously and has not missed a day in the first quarter of high school. Ivan has always been a good student and his teachers have always had excellent comments for him. He has received good grades throughout elementary and middle school. This quarter alone, he has received straight A’s.

He is especially interested in studying law, with an emphasis in tribal law. His goal is to attend law school. He also has an interest in being a teacher. In 2016, he was awarded three awards: the first one was the History Award, for the debate he won when he spoke of his tribal heritage. The second award was the Silver Presidential Award for high achieving grades. The third award he received was from the American Legion for being a positive student in his leadership role.

He enjoys being around his friends laughing and listening to music. He attended his first United Nations Indian Tribal Youth (UNITY) Conference with other youth from the reservation. After returning home, he had many desires, including an idea to create a group similar to UNITY’s philosophy, which promotes leadership roles and healthy lifestyles.

In addition to his academic achievements, he is very responsible in other areas of his young life. One of his greatest gifts is to think ahead. For instance, he saves his money so that he can purchase things that he enjoys, which are usually art materials. He is an avid artist and enjoys his quiet time drawing. He has been drawing since he was old enough to pick up a paper and pencil.

Ivan is also involved with the Moapa Valley High School Broadcasting; this allows him to speak in front of an audience with confidence. Most recently, he became one of the youngest members of the Moapa Veteran Powwow committee. This past summer, he had his first job working for the tribe. He enjoyed his first experience and recognizes the value of doing a good job. He is an amazing kid with a bright future and he will succeed when given an opportunity.

Fredina Drye-Romero works for the Nevada Department of Education under its Indian Education branch. Visit to learn more. Visit to learn more about the Moapa Band of Paiutes.