Native American Critical Issues Conference
DAY 1: March 10, 2022 8:30-1:45pm ET
How Climate Change affects our Cultural Centering
Moderated by Rochelle Ettawageshik
Climate change impacts all aspects of our lives. Our very identities are rooted in our relationships with Mother Earth and plant and animal nations, as well as our human relatives. As Anishinaabek, we are taught that our heart is our center, our jichag. It is where our spirit dwells. We are also taught that when our jichag aligns with other centers it creates perfect balance and harmony in nature. There are many paths to the center of a circle. It is our responsibility to ensure that we foster good relations so that future generations can live mino-bimaadiz--the good life. Centering, or re-centering, ourselves through a traditional cultural lens will help us live in a good way that allows Mother Earth to heal.
The erasure of Native American Students in Higher Education
Moderated by June Mamagona Fletcher
The college experience of Native American students is often erased in the current reporting structure. Institutes of higher learning in the USA who participate in Title IV federal funding must, by law, conduct assessment three times a year. This assessment is known as Integrated Postsecondary Education Data Systems (IPEDS). The IPEDS collect student data including: financial aid, degrees and certificates conferred, student success (retention rates, graduation rates). However, current reporting practices are not inclusive to the lived experiences of Native American college students. Specifically, the IPEDS erase Native American students in two fundamental ways. First, many Native students do not have high enough GPA or ACT/SAT scores to be counted as degree seeking students upon admission. Their provisional acceptance to college is often not documented and therefore not counted among the student body. Second, Native students are more likely to “stop out” for multiple reasons. The stop outs often appear that these students are not successful. Higher education has a linear function of being a job training ground. Success, measured through IPEDS, is used to indicate which schools breed skilled workers. Successful schools (measured by retention and graduation rate) attract more students, more grant money and more specialized programs. Reporting Native American student success rates, using IPEDS, paints a picture that these students are not successful. This creates a self-fulfilling prophecy for current college students and it discourages high school students from seeking higher education as a viable option. Native American students have a place in higher education. They exist in colleges and universities across the country. They attend class, participate in internships, serve in student government and are student athletes. Their acceptance to college and their success should not be erased by a colonized system. Their experiences are real and it is time their success is measured accurately.
Stoodis, so you can Skooden!
Dream your perfect college.
Moderated by Eva Menefee
We want to hear from you! Tell us about your ideal school, what is needed for you to be recruited and retained as a student? Is your success dependent on how your culture is observed in Higher Education? Join us for a focus group that is zoned into your needs as a prospective or current college student. Share what you have enjoyed about the current environment you are in, prospective to, or would like to see to support you through your journey of higher education.
Native Inclusion Initiatives at WMU Medical School
Dr. Cheryl Dickson
Dr. Martin Reinhardt
Moderated by Frank Ettawageshik
Join us for an overview of the efforts currently underway at Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine to create a more inclusive environment for Native American students, faculty, and staff and their Tribes. Included is a sneak peek at a new online course currently in development that will be featured as part of the curriculum developments efforts called "An Introduction to Tribal Health (AITH)".
Sense of Belonging in Academia: Finding Balance Through Reciprocal Relationships as Indigenous Youth
Moderated by Melinda Hernandez
For Indigenous youth in the Western hierarchical academic system, a childhood wherein the main experiences are displacement and disconnection can influence our academic lives. By returning to reciprocal, and therefore cyclical, relationships, Indigenous youth can begin to heal this disconnect. Indigenous teachings stress the importance of balance through oral tradition, which is the primary methodological approach in this session. When Indigenous youth strive for balance within their relationships, they can then connect more deeply with their identities in a post-apocalyptic world where our existences are challenged. Drawing on concepts including the “fragmented mirror” as described by Dr. Marie Battiste (Mi’kmaq) and “jagged worldviews” from Dr. Leroy Little Bear (Blackfoot), this session will focus on the unique hardships academia poses on sense of belonging. The presentation will utilize storytelling and Anishinaabe and Cherokee Medicine Wheel models as methods of healing, grounding, and centering ourselves. Beginning in the direction of the Center, where gathering together and sharing is deeply encouraged, the presenters will position themselves within the space through introduction. Discussion regarding impacts of hierarchical Western systems of education and academia will be followed by ways in which Medicine Wheel teachings can reframe our perspectives within these spaces. The presenters will close the presentation by circling back to the teachings associated with the Center. The audience will then be invited to share their own perspectives on academia, hierarchies, and how they position themselves in relation to the teachings of the Medicine Wheel to promote empowerment within our relations, communities, and identities.