Frequently Asked Questions


How does the Udall Foundation define Native American?

For the purposes of the Internship Program, a Native American or Alaska Native is any individual who is:

  • A member of an Indian tribe or band, as membership is defined by the tribe or band, including any tribe or band terminated since 1940 and any tribe recognized by the state in which the tribe or band resides;
  • A descendant in first or second degree of a member of an Indian tribe or band, as membership is defined by the tribe or band, who can demonstrate affiliation with the tribal community according to criteria set by the Foundation;
  • Considered by the Secretary of the Interior to be an Indian for any purpose;
  • An Eskimo, Aleut, or other Alaska Native;
  • A permanent U.S. resident who is a member of the First Nations of Canada.

What kind of documentation do I need?

Applicants must submit copies of relevant enrollment forms, cards or descent documentation such as a Certificate of Degree of Indian or Alaska Native Blood. Applicants who are members of the First Nations of Canada must submit proof of U.S. permanent residency. Applicants who cannot demonstrate tribal enrollment and do not have a CDIB may obtain a letter from a tribal leader indicating descent from a member of a tribe or band and involvement in the tribal community, and submit copies of a mother or father's birth certificate showing tribal affiliation.

What is a Certificate of Degree of Indian or Alaska Native Blood?

A Certificate of Degree of Indian or Alaska Native Blood (CDIB) is an official document that certifies a person possesses a specific degree of Indian blood of a federally recognized Indian tribe. The CDIB is issued by the Bureau of Indian Affairs; however, verification and enrollment requirements vary from tribe to tribe.

I am not an enrolled tribal member. Am I eligible for the Internship?

That depends. If you do not have an enrollment card, you should contact your tribe for information on how to apply for tribal enrollment. Be aware that the application process can take from two months to up to several years.

If you are not currently on your tribal roll, and do not have a CDIB, you may instead obtain a letter from a tribal leader indicating your descent from a member of a tribe or band and involvement in your tribal community and submit copies of a mother or father's birth certificate showing tribal affiliation. The Udall Foundation will review the letter to determine if it provides sufficient proof of eligibility to meet our criteria.

My tribe does not have federal recognition. Am I eligible to apply?

Yes, applicants from state-recognized tribes are eligible for the Udall Internship.

I am Native Hawaiian. Am I eligible for the Internship?

No, at this time Native Hawaiians are not eligible. The Foundation may revisit this issue in the future.

The Selection Process

How are Udall Interns selected?

Applications are reviewed by an independent selection committee. The selection committee meets in February to choose 12 Interns and up to six alternates. Interns are notified of their selection by mid-March.

The selection committee is composed of recognized professionals who work with Native American students or communities in an academic or leadership capacity. Selection committee members may be affiliated with an institution of higher education, a tribe, or an organization serving Native American communities. Former Interns have also been members of the selection committee.

Interns are selected on the basis of:

  • Interest in and commitment to learning about the federal government;
  • Demonstrated commitment to fields in tribal public policy, through contributions to or participation in one or more of the following: campus activities, community or public service, research;
  • Desire to use the knowledge gained to support their tribal community.

What kind of qualities does the selection committee look for?

A successful applicant will demonstrate:

  • Interest in learning how the federal government "really works";
  • Commitment to his or her tribal community and/or Indian Country;
  • Awareness of issues and challenges currently facing Indian Country;
  • Knowledge of Congressman Udall's legacy with regard to Native Americans;
  • Strong research and writing skills;
  • Organizational abilities and time management skills;
  • Maturity, responsibility, and flexibility.

What types of degrees and careers do former Interns pursue?

While many of our applicants and Interns have sought degrees in law, public administration and/or policy, others have pursued degrees in a variety of fields: biology, engineering, public health, environmental science, community development and/or planning, economics, communication, political science, psychology, international studies, geography, criminal justice, secondary education, art and photography, architecture, social work, English, anthropology, physics, and business.

The Program

How does the Foundation arrange placement for Interns?

After the initial selection of Udall Interns and based on the information provided in the internship application, Interns' interests and abilities will be matched with available positions on Capitol Hill. The Internship program manager will take into account a variety of factors. Some offices, such as the Office of Tribal Justice, are available only to law students.

What types of office assignments do Interns typically have?

Udall Interns have worked in House and Senate offices, with the Departments of Defense, Interior, and Education, and in the White House. Depending on the individual's skills and abilities, interns attend hearings and briefings, research legislative issues, and provide general office support.

What kind of expectations do offices have of Interns?

All Interns will be expected to perform similar administrative duties such as handling correspondence, phone calls, filing, and constituent services. You will also have the opportunity to demonstrate your research, writing and analytical skills. Interns who perform well their first two weeks and demonstrate that they are resourceful, manage their time wisely and complete their tasks on time are usually given more advanced assignments such as attending hearings, writing briefs (summary reports) and white papers, and conducting in-depth research.

What are the accommodations like?

Interns live in George Washington University residence hall housing, only a few blocks from the Foggy Bottom Metro and historic Georgetown. Interns are housed in apartments with a shared bedroom, living room, kitchen and bath.

How much is the daily allowance for meals, transportation and incidentals?

Interns receive a per diem allowance of $42/day, sufficient for meals, public transportation costs, and incidentals. The allowance is deposited directly into the intern's bank account every two weeks for the duration of the program.

When do I receive the $1,200 stipend?

Interns will receive half of their stipend during the last week of the program; the remaining half will be disbursed after the program is successfully completed. Successful completion is contingent on the individual intern's performance, which will be evaluated by the office supervisor. In addition, the Internship program manager will evaluate the intern's participation in all scheduled enrichment activities.

Could I drive my car to Washington, D.C. instead of flying?

We strongly advise against bringing a car to Washington D.C. Parking is extremely expensive and virtually impossible to come by in central D.C. The Foundation will provide roundtrip airfare to Washington, D.C. from the city closest to your home or school.

Could I begin my internship earlier in May, or continue through August?

No. Moreover, we strongly recommend that applicants not accept the offer of an Internship if their personal or financial obligations prevent them from being in Washington, D.C., from the start of the program. The summer program starts the last week of May and ends the first week of August. Interns must be able to live and work in D.C. for the full ten weeks.

Are interns required to stay for the full 10 weeks?

Yes. In certain instances we can make an exception for interns studying abroad or who have late finals that cannot be rescheduled. In such cases, interns may begin their Internship up to a week late, subject to approval by the Foundation.

What if a family situation or emergency makes it necessary for me to leave before the end of my Internship?

Depending on the type of emergency, you may request a temporary leave of absence during the program. All temporary leave requests must have prior approval from the Foundation and the program manager. Please note that any short-term leave may impact the amount of per diem an intern receives within that period.

I applied for the Udall Internship last year, but was not selected. How can I improve my chances?
  • Request feedback on your application from program manager Teresa Bravo.
  • Ask your advisor or a professor for a detailed critique of your application.
  • Ask yourself: Does your commitment to tribal communities, tribal public policy or tribal governance shine through in every answer? What are you doing now that demonstrates that commitment? What problems or issues do you hope to find solutions to? How will your educational goals and career plans help you address these issues, and how will the Udall Internship help you to achieve your goals?
  • Spend some time researching Morris Udall or Stewart Udall's life and achievements. The essay is an essential component of the application. Be sure to integrate your analysis of a legislative act or policy statement of Morris Udall or Stewart Udall's with its impact on your studies or career goals.
  • Revise, revise, revise.

Can you give me any advice on the essay?

The best essays demonstrate a sophisticated and nuanced understanding of Congressman Mo Udall or Stewart Udall's tribal policy legacy, and clearly relate the chosen topic to your interests and career goals.

  • Research Morris K. Udall's congressional and legislative record in order to select a topic that clearly relates to your field of study, interests, and career goals.
  • Know the topic well. If your topic is the Indian Child Welfare Act, analyze Congressman Udall's legislation in the context of contemporary tribal impacts, and its relevance to current applications of the law.
  • Make the connection. Demonstrate how and why the topic is relevant to you. For example, one applicant analyzed the impact of the Southern Arizona Water Rights Settlement Act on the Tohono O’odham Nation and related the legislation to water rights negotiations within his own tribe.

How important are grades?

Grades are less important than demonstrated writing and research ability, involvement in tribal activities or Native American organizations, community service and leadership records, but they are still significant. Applicants should generally have at least a 3.0 GPA. If your GPA falls below 3.0, you may address the reasons why and the steps you have taken to improve your GPA in a one-page addendum.

Are any fields of study given priority?

No. Interns come from all majors and fields of study. Udall Interns have pursued degrees in law, social work, political science, community and regional planning, sociology, anthropology, American Indian studies, tribal public policy, history, psychology, English, music, and public health, to name just a few areas.

However, we anticipate that an applicant's plan of study will include some coursework in tribal public policy, Native American or American Indian studies, or Indian law.

I am unable to obtain a reference letter from my tribal official. What should I do?

If you cannot obtain a letter from your tribal official or leader, a letter from a tribal community leader may serve as a substitute.

I am a graduate student and have attended more than two institutions. How many transcripts are required?

You should submit transcripts from all institutions that you attended, including your current institution, your undergraduate institution, transfer institutions, and any institutions where you took summer courses for college credit. If your transcript lists transfer credits, but no grades, we require transcripts from the transferring institution.

You do not need to submit transcripts for:

  • College courses taken during high school;
  • Summer courses that were not for college credit;
  • College courses taken more than 10 years ago.