First One Hundred Institute

Celebrate Culture

Share Language

Build Literacy


First One Hundred Library

This bookshelf holds a collection of picture books created especially for Native American communities by First One Hundred Institute, along with other books curated from the master collection at Unite for Literacy.  First One Hundred books reflect the diverse and unique cultures of different tribes, and allow children to "see" themselves and imagine their full potential through the images. The books are narrated in a variety of indigenous languages and English, providing additional support for emergent readers and speakers.


“Let us put our minds together and see what life we can make for our children.”




First One Hundred Institute supports American Indian families by creating community based literacy programs that promote enhanced educational achievement, cultural and linguistic revitalization, and life-long learning.


Our Work

First One Hundred Institute seeks to develop literacy for the 21st Century in every American Indian child, a literacy that goes beyond reading and writing and builds upon the language, values, customs, and history of his or her community. The Institute works in partnership with tribes, schools, and federal programs to provide Indigenous families with a home library filled with linguistically and culturally relevant books. Our work focuses on

  • Increasing the number of developmentally and culturally appropriate early childhood books for American Indian children and providing books to the communities or homes that lack adequate numbers of books of any kind for their young children.

  • Supporting parents, whose participation is key to sustainable literacy improvement, to develop their own literacy skills, academic self-confidence, and knowledge of how to interact with children in a reading experience.

  • Connecting communities with the resources to acquire appropriate books, the knowledge and skills to produce them, or the training and support to overcome obstacles to developing a culture of literacy.

We know that meaningful, sustainable progress requires concerted, well-funded, long-term effort by community leaders, educators, and business people to create the scholastic and economic opportunities Native communities have often missed out on. Our solution is to empower parents and other community members and engage them as partners in holistic literacy education. In this way, the heart of every community—families—can be supported in taking a proactive role in guiding their children along the path of a literate life.



First One Hundred Institute held its first summer Institute in Albuquerque, NM in June of 2011. The First One Hundred Institute’s workshops are focused on development of digital books that can be published locally and distributed to parents and communities to promote native language and culture. This is accomplished by using software and literacy tools developed by Unite for Literacy, a company that has spent more than a decade working in American Indian schools, with extensive experience creating culturally and linguistically relevant books for native populations.



William Mehojah, Jr., Founder

The First One Hundred Institute was founded by William Mehojah, Jr., who is a member of the Kaw Tribe of Oklahoma. He is a former Director of the Office of Indian Education Programs in Washington, D. C., responsible for managing 185 elementary and secondary schools and two post secondary schools located in twenty-three states, providing education to over 47,000 American Indian students. He served in various positions in that office, including Deputy Director for eight years, Special Assistant to the Director, Branch Chief for Elementary and Secondary Education, and Division Chief for Education Programs. He previously worked in Alaska where he was responsible for management of a technical assistance office serving fifty-nine schools. He also worked with Alaska tribal governments and corporations that served Alaska natives.

Mr. Mehojah understands education at the classroom level. He was a teacher, counselor and administrator in South Dakota. Mr. Mehojah retired from the Bureau of Indian Affairs in 2008. 

Mr. Mehojah was the National Indian Education Association Indian Educator of the Year in 2004. He also received in 2004, the Goodling Award for Leadership from the National Center for Family Literacy located in Louisville, Kentucky, and the Partnership Award from the Parents as Teachers National Center in St. Louis, Missouri. He has served on the Board of Directors for the Parents as Teachers National Center and the High Scope Research Foundation in Ypsilanti, Michigan.