American Indians Are Still Here-Guest Blog

We will be running a series of guest blogs about what it means to “Think Indian” in today’s world. This week we will run the first of our guest blogs. “Thinking Indian” is not just a slogan or idea put out by the American Indian College Fund. “Thinking Indian” is how people in the Native community live their lives and strike the balance between their lives as Indian people and mainstream society in college, in family life, and in the workplace. We welcome your stories and look forward to hearing from you! Please send your submissions, 200 words or less, to dhorwedel@collegefund.org

I embrace this opportunity to write about my challenges in mainstream academic institutions. Recently I was walking down the hall in a building on campus when I noticed a big sign over a bulletin board displaying in large letters the word “Diversity.” I stopped for a look.

Upon examination of the board I noticed the board contained a world map, greetings in many languages, and student organizations which represented all but one race. The missing race was American Indians. It made me think for a minute or two about whether or not the termination and assimilation policies of the U.S. federal government had been successful in convincing non-Natives that American Indians are gone. But more likely, it is the case my current academic institution is unaware of American Indians because the state has no federally recognized Indian tribes.

Nevertheless, there are both graduate and undergraduate American Indian student organizations on campus, and the absence of American Indians on this department’s bulletin board is merely a naive mistake; although, often the pedagogy and heuristics of history, government, and politics treat American Indians the same as the aforementioned department bulletin board. I believe it is important as a student to connect with the local Indian community in order to gain the balance necessary for success in big mainstream academic institutions. It has been important to me.

Jason Oberle
2010 Masters in Public Affairs candidate
Read Jason’s American Indian Policy Blog

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