Native American College Newspapers | Standing in two worlds

Native American students make up only a tiny fraction of all college students in the United States. They come with different stories, facing an education system once used to erase their languages ​​and cultures.

In this project, four Indigenous students share how they use higher education to strengthen ties with their Indigenous roots and support their people.

Majestic Reuben Kitto

Reuben Kitto Stately with his graduation star quilt outside his home in Shakopee, Minnesota.

Portrait by Jaida Gray Eagle for APM Reports

For me, education is the search for truth. I knew that focusing on Native American studies at the University of Augsburg would help me better understand the history of colonization here in America. Knowledge is an act of resistance and a way to help Aboriginal people.

It’s a capitalist system and the best way to support our people, ourselves and our families is to make money. You can bring this college degree back to your people and find employment for your tribe. Perhaps you are able to indigenize a new space or strengthen the space your employees are already in.

Nevaeh Nose

Nevaeh Nez in her traditional Hopi clothing at Med City’s newest addition, One Discovery Square, located in downtown Rochester, Minnesota.

Portrait by Jaida Gray Eagle for APM Reports

Since I was a child, my mother or my grandmother taught me the ways of healing. In Hopi culture, running is a healing force. During the race, many people take this time to pray for those in need – hoping to give them strength. It is this type of tradition that I want to link to my work as a doctor.

I didn’t know what it took to be a doctor. I thought med school was beyond people like me. I found that less than 1% of American doctors are Native American or identify as Native American. As I further my education and complete the prerequisites to become a doctor, I have a better understanding of the negative impact the current healthcare system has had on my people. This led me to start finding ways to incorporate traditional teachings into medicine and overall better serve Indigenous peoples, which starts with finishing my education.

My dream is to become an orthopedic surgeon and work with Indigenous athletes across the country. After seeking support from programs, mentors, and finding my own path, I find the resilience to get through this difficult education system.

Archie Yellow

Archie Yellow outside Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College in Cloquet, Minnesota.

Sasha Aslanian | GAP reports

I gave life to the gang for at least ten years of my life. I have lived a horrible life. I’ve done horrible things. So I said to myself, what if I gave school, higher education, my language and my culture — what if I gave them ten years of my life? Being a teacher would be my way of atoning.

I always knew that if I went back to school, I would go to Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College. I’m learning my language and my culture and that’s something I’m proud to tell people. That’s all I’m trying to do with this schooling and becoming a teacher – to heal my community and all the damage and destruction I’ve caused my whole life.

Camille Leihulu Slagle

Camille Leihulu Slagle with the Hawaiian flag. She wears a lāʻī bracelet, commonly known as a ti leaf. It represents protection.

Portrait of Kaʻōhua Lucas for APM Reports

I am Hawaiian originally from Kailua on the island of Oahu in Hawaiʻi. One of my ultimate dreams is for people to see Hawaii the same way I do. To see it for all its natural beauty but also its cultural beauty because there is no Hawaii without Hawaiians. My goal is to give back to my people, to my lāhui, in the way I know best, which is through science.

I study chemistry and geology at Stanford University. I hope that one day I will work at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and become a geochemist to study, better understand, and improve our knowledge of volcanoes, those huge, monstrous beings that create the Hawaiian Islands. It’s the perfect intersection for me of both my culture and science because it creates new land, but also creates more Hawaii for my people.

Her story will appear on an episode of the Educate podcast on August 4.

“Standing in Two Worlds” is one of two audio documentaries this fall from the Educate Podcast – stories about education, opportunity and how people learn.

Nevaeh Nose
Camille Leihulu Slagle
Majestic Reuben Kitto
Archie Yellow

Sasha Aslanian

Stephane Smith

Jill Barshay
Melissa Olson
Catherine Winter
Chris Worthington

Craig Thorson

Betsy Towner Levine

Andy Kruse

Lauren Humpert

This project was supported by Lumina Foundation, the Spencer Foundation and a reporting grant from the Education Writers Association.


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