Native American Congressional Internship

Frequently Asked Questions


Who can apply?

Enrolled students OR recent graduates of a two or four-year accredited, non-profit institution of higher education in the United States. Graduate and law students are also eligible. Applicants must have completed at least two years of undergraduate coursework.

How does the Udall Foundation define Native American?

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

  • An enrolled member of a state or federally recognized Indian tribe or band, including any tribe or band terminated since 1940;
  • A descendant in first or second degree of an enrolled member of a state or federally recognized Indian tribe or band, who can demonstrate affiliation with the tribal community, according to criteria set by the Udall 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 documents are required to prove tribal enrollment or descendancy?

Applicants must submit copies of relevant enrollment forms, cards, and/or descent documentation such as a Certificate of Degree of Indian or Alaska Native Blood. Descendants of enrolled tribal members must provide proof of their parent's or grandparent's enrollment and birth certificates that demonstrate the applicant's relationship to the enrolled tribal member. 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 should obtain a letter from a tribal leader to demonstrate their involvement in the tribal community.

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 not an enrolled member of a state or federally recognized tribe. May I still apply?

That depends. If you are not currently on your tribal roll, and do not have a CDIB, you may provide proof of a parent or grandparent's enrollment and copies of birth certificates demonstrating your relationship. You should also obtain a letter from a tribal leader indicating your involvement in your tribal community The Udall Foundation will review the letter to determine if it provides sufficient proof of eligibility to meet our criteria.

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.

How to Apply

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.

Which transcripts should I submit with my application?

You should submit transcripts from your current institution, transfer or undergraduate 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;
  • Courses for which you did not receive credit at your current institution;
  • College courses taken more than 6 years ago.
  • 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.

    Living and Working in Washington, D.C.

    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 the Washington-DC Metro area with access to public transportation. Each intern has his or her own bedroom, but shares a bathroom, kitchen and living space with another intern.

    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 prior to the start 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 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.

    Application Advice

    I applied for the Udall Internship last year, but was not selected. How can I improve my chances?

    Ask a trusted advisor or professor for a detailed critique of your application. 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? You may also request feedback on your application from the Program Manager

    Can you give me any advice on the essay?

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

    • Research Morris Udall's or Stewart 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, hydrology, engineering, 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.