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Old 10-25-2011, 03:12 PM   #1
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Post Indian College Student Issues

I need some help.

I am going to be lecturing in Michigan on the subject of "Current Issues and Needs of Native American College Students." Right now I am writing my outline starting with historical information concerning Indian education.

If you are a current American Indian or Alaskan Native student, parent or faculty member, what are some issues and needs that I need to be aware of?

Any and all help will be appreciated. Thank you in advance!
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Last edited by WhoMe; 10-25-2011 at 03:14 PM..
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Old 10-25-2011, 05:34 PM   #2
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Old 10-25-2011, 09:13 PM   #3
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Recruitment has always been my bone of contention.

By the time most colleges and universities send out their recruiters, Indian kids are long gone from the class face. When we looked at Native students the biggest thing to come out of the inquiry was the age in which we need to start talking to Native kids... not grade 10-12 like the larger society but beginning back in grade 6 or 7. These kids need to believe that they are just as capable to get to university as kids who are raised and preened for it from the cradle.

There needs to be more effort in the recruitment, retention and graduation processes of these students. When I graduated from law school, my class was the very first class ever in the school's history to actually graduated all the native students that had started together. The attrition rate is deplorable.

We need to address (at least up here in Canada) that student's funding needs to be based on advancement and not on a percentage that means an all or nothing continuous funding. Most students up here face having to keep a minimum 70% grade in ALL their subjects, that leaves no room for just having a bad exam or bad paper that pulls their grade in one class down to below a 70%. If that happens, the students can lose their funding.

Support while at school is so important. There has to be a place where these kids can get together and figure out how to keep going. At my university, we had a centre and a native counsellor. That made a difference.
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Old 10-25-2011, 09:53 PM   #4
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College Issues

I work in a University and one issue we face is that we're in NJ, and the Native community isn't well connected. Looking for ways to bring community together, to bring sensitivity to First Nations populations, where we are clearly a minority.

Indigenous students seek to connect with their heritage, but in a minority, it's not easy to gain access to resources to do so.

Can you help with this kind of organization?

Thanks!

Jonathan Hawk

Quote:
Originally Posted by WhoMe View Post
I need some help.

I am going to be lecturing in Michigan on the subject of "Current Issues and Needs of Native American College Students." Right now I am writing my outline starting with historical information concerning Indian education.

If you are a current American Indian or Alaskan Native student, parent or faculty member, what are some issues and needs that I need to be aware of?

Any and all help will be appreciated. Thank you in advance!
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Old 10-25-2011, 10:50 PM   #5
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One possible avenue to explore is the fact that the majority of professors lack understanding of Native American culture, and for that matter the cultures of a variety of ethnic groups. It's difficult for a people from one background to fully grasp what is being taught to them by a teacher from another background. It gets worse later in life to the point where when someone of the same background as the students can't even teach them. Think of the movie "Stand And Deliver" (1988), and all the spin offs and parodies of it.

It's more complex than that and don't take my statement at face value. I'm just too busy with tomorrow's project and can't think completely on this, but I did want to at least offer it up to you for your own analysis.
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Old 10-26-2011, 10:15 AM   #6
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Good food for thought. Good luck with your project!

Jonathan


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One possible avenue to explore is the fact that the majority of professors lack understanding of Native American culture, and for that matter the cultures of a variety of ethnic groups. It's difficult for a people from one background to fully grasp what is being taught to them by a teacher from another background. It gets worse later in life to the point where when someone of the same background as the students can't even teach them. Think of the movie "Stand And Deliver" (1988), and all the spin offs and parodies of it.

It's more complex than that and don't take my statement at face value. I'm just too busy with tomorrow's project and can't think completely on this, but I did want to at least offer it up to you for your own analysis.
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Old 10-26-2011, 11:16 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Toolbox View Post
One possible avenue to explore is the fact that the majority of professors lack understanding of Native American culture, and for that matter the cultures of a variety of ethnic groups. It's difficult for a people from one background to fully grasp what is being taught to them by a teacher from another background. It gets worse later in life to the point where when someone of the same background as the students can't even teach them. Think of the movie "Stand And Deliver" (1988), and all the spin offs and parodies of it.

It's more complex than that and don't take my statement at face value. I'm just too busy with tomorrow's project and can't think completely on this, but I did want to at least offer it up to you for your own analysis.
I think one has to be careful at insisting that professors get all touchy feely with cultures. There is a tendency to call for an understanding of "Native culture" without acknowledging that it isn't a one-culture fits all. Simply adding a "native" component to a course or program does not make for good academics and tends to perpetuate stereotypes.

I sat on the Aboriginal council at my respective universities and although, there was plenty of Aboriginal funds available to any university that met the Ministry of Education's criteria, it wasn't always a good idea to simply "add instant Indian and mix" to courses. I raised an interesting point during the deliberations on how my university was going to access these funds and it went like this...

I applied to this particular university not because I needed to learn how to be an Indian... I applied because I wanted the best damn law education available. This university met my needs on that score. If I had wanted to "learn to be Indian" I would have applied to the universities that offer a degree in Native Studies.

The irony if you want to call it that, was that during my program, every single subject/course ended up being a "Native Studies" because that's what I decided to explore using the various legal disciplines. When I took a course in contracts, I researched pre-confederation treaties and their validity, for Family law I researched Native child apprehension/adoption etc. I teased what I wanted to learn out of every single class/course.

Students need to decide what they want out of a program and if they want a Native studies degree, then they should apply to a university that offers that. If they want a degree in mainstream law, engineering or medicine for example, they should look to applying to a program that gets them the best education for their buck. Once they get in, they can massage what ever they need to get out of their program by way of researching how it affects a native concern. They don't need a prof to be all touchy feely with the culture thing... we need to recognize that our cultures are very diverse and expecting one person to be schooled in every single one of them in the off chance they end up with a student from that First nation.. seems a bit of stretch. Should a prof be sensitive to their student's needs? Sure they do, but they need to be consistent across the board. Pandering to a specific group breeds hostility amongst peers in an already competitive environment. To be honest, I tend to take a particular course based on the expertise of the prof in that particular field. Do I care if they understand me? Nope. What I care about is what and can I learn from this person? If they can't teach, then no amount of understanding me as a FN student is going to help. I'd go as far as to say that even if they did understand me as a FN student, if they still can't teach what's in their head... I still lose out.

If students want to be in touch with each other... every university has the mechanisms to create a native student's association... my law school had one, the larger university had one and pretty much every faculty had one as well. All we wanted was to bring the schools' admission numbers up in line with the percentage of the national native population...that meant selling the university to kids that might otherwise give post secondary education a miss because they thought they couldn't achieve it.

Sure most of us have had at one point in our lives a huge disadvantage of some sort... mine was having parents and 3 grandparents who attended residential schools and more personally, having a kid at a young age and coming from a northern territory but we really need to stop setting ourselves to fail because we think our disadvantages out weigh our capacity to shine.

See those kids on the 20/20 show? Those are the kids and their ages we need to really be targeting recruiting speeches for before we lose them.
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Old 10-26-2011, 12:51 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yaahl View Post
Recruitment has always been my bone of contention.

By the time most colleges and universities send out their recruiters, Indian kids are long gone from the class face. When we looked at Native students the biggest thing to come out of the inquiry was the age in which we need to start talking to Native kids... not grade 10-12 like the larger society but beginning back in grade 6 or 7. These kids need to believe that they are just as capable to get to university as kids who are raised and preened for it from the cradle.

There needs to be more effort in the recruitment, retention and graduation processes of these students. When I graduated from law school, my class was the very first class ever in the school's history to actually graduated all the native students that had started together. The attrition rate is deplorable.

We need to address (at least up here in Canada) that student's funding needs to be based on advancement and not on a percentage that means an all or nothing continuous funding. Most students up here face having to keep a minimum 70% grade in ALL their subjects, that leaves no room for just having a bad exam or bad paper that pulls their grade in one class down to below a 70%. If that happens, the students can lose their funding.

Support while at school is so important. There has to be a place where these kids can get together and figure out how to keep going. At my university, we had a centre and a native counsellor. That made a difference.
I agree on the age of conditioning kids, esp. native kids for college. The drop out right by the time of High School Graduation is alarming. Most do not complete high school, so the ideal age to start preparing native kids for college, trade schools, etc. would be 6th grade and up. Also, an emphasis on education is paramount. However, since this is on college issues.....

I think ideally, any college that wants to reach out to all cultures should realize that it's not just "one" different thing such as new town. It's a new school, new people, new ideas, new foods, new ways of life. Even for native kids that may live in a city or small town, they may have gone to a school that was the majority of natives, and going to a college that might be 1% native, is going to be another "new" factor. With all these changes and culture shock overload, the ability to hit the road is right in their face every day. I think if there were mentors on campus that could actually relate, and keep tabs of the kids that might struggle with wanting to drop out or go back home. That would be a start. If there is a way to address that and figure out ways to keep them in college once they get there, it would make a huge difference.
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Old 10-26-2011, 01:09 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by yaahl View Post
Sure most of us have had at one point in our lives a huge disadvantage of some sort... mine was having parents and 3 grandparents who attended residential schools and more personally, having a kid at a young age and coming from a northern territory but we really need to stop setting ourselves to fail because we think our disadvantages out weigh our capacity to shine.
Amen.

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See those kids on the 20/20 show? Those are the kids and their ages we need to really be targeting recruiting speeches for before we lose them.
Yes, you can't retain or recruit what isn't there. In the hard sciences the pipeline is leaking badly before college.

Mentoring, at least in my day, tended to be focused at the college and post-grad level. Let me be honest by the time you're in grad school it would be nice to have a role model, but you've got many of the coping skills you're going to use in your professional life already. You also have a much better formed image of the day to day life in the profession.

It is the kids, pre-teen and teen, who are trying to imagine themselves in the adult, professional world who need to see that people "like" them are already there. They need to know that these careers are possibilities. They need to avoid the trap of limiting themselves to fields they (or their guidance counselor) think are "Indian". I have heard youngsters restrict their career considerations to a narrow range of options because they have a very limited perspective on what can help their people. We need mentors to encourage students to pursue the diverse professions needed to build health Native economies.

Last edited by OLChemist; 10-26-2011 at 01:12 PM..
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Old 10-26-2011, 07:40 PM   #10
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@ Yaahl, great response and points well taken and to some extent I agree. It is next to impossible for teachers and professors to understand the cultures of everyone who steps foot in their classrooms given the melting pot that we live in here. Plus as you said to do so would be pandering. Like I said I just wanted to put it out there as a possibility for something that should be looked into. It was meant to be taken for full face value.

Not every college or university has a native student association, especially those with as CP said 1% native or FN enrollment which could lead to a culture shock of sorts.

Like you (Yaahl), I chose the school I went to for the fact that it had the best film program in my area. I didn't choose it for enrollment stats or any other similar criteria. The school I chose ended up largely filled with upper class white kids whose parents paid for everything. It was only after I graduated that they initiated a program to attract more minorities.
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Old 10-26-2011, 07:56 PM   #11
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TB, when I started at my university it was assumed that there was maybe 20 native students across the campus... I organized a meeting for native students and well, surprise... 135 kids showed up for the first meeting. They all thought that there was maybe 10-20 kids on campus... the year I graduated we had over 300 native kids attending programs from medicine to biology to nursing to law to sociology. All it ever takes is one person to start the ball rolling.

Just a minor point when having a discussion with canucks... the US may be a melting pot but up here, we're a mosaic society...
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Old 10-26-2011, 08:32 PM   #12
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Quote:
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TB, when I started at my university it was assumed that there was maybe 20 native students across the campus... I organized a meeting for native students and well, surprise... 135 kids showed up for the first meeting. They all thought that there was maybe 10-20 kids on campus... the year I graduated we had over 300 native kids attending programs from medicine to biology to nursing to law to sociology. All it ever takes is one person to start the ball rolling.

Just a minor point when having a discussion with canucks... the US may be a melting pot but up here, we're a mosaic society...


135 kids, that was how many people were in my major! LOL. My major and the fact that I had to work outside of classes, kept me from doing any of the club stuff or starting any organizations. The whole university only had 2,000 students, which again were mainly upper class white people with a few minorities peppered throughout. We did hold an event or two in the past and it got spectators and participants but only because they were getting out of writing a paper because they went to the event. LOL.
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Old 10-26-2011, 11:14 PM   #13
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The biggest issue I've perceived in both student leadership and while acting as a guest lecturer and teaching assistant at three colleges is that Native students -- specifically -- worry too much about being "Native" and not enough about being "students."

It's entitlement, born in a TAUGHT mantra of perceived ongoing disenfranchisement, that causes students to actively believe they should be treated differently because they are Native.

They shouldn't be.

If they are you get the coddled student, who becomes the coddled grad student, who becomes the coddled doctor, who becomes the coddled post doc, who becomes the coddled assistant professor, who becomes the coddled (and tenured!) associate professor, who becomes the coddled professor, who spends all their time teaching Native students that they are disenfranchised...

Be a student FIRST.

In the Real World, nobody is going to grant you a pass because you're Native: you either have knowledge or you don't.

To achieve this, cease the victimhood. It starts with denouncing the idea that a university needs to cater to you.
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Old 10-29-2011, 12:14 PM   #14
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i was never prepared for life as an adult, much less to go to college. so when i had my two children (son & daughter) i started from birth on up, teaching them all the things i was never prepared for. i spoke to them of how the school systems work, grading, competition for grades/placement/college, and the day to day living places they would need to know about. like banks, libraries, post offices, etc.

i spoke to my children often about having to be the best students and always doing their best so they could go to college then university. they would have to be the very best students because i couldnt afford to send them to college or university and they would have to get there by their grades alone. oh, and extra curiccular activities had to be included, because 'those that make the decisions' would come down to include that.

so by the time they entered kindergarten, they already knew what it was about, but i kept on with teaching them so they always could stay several steps ahead.

both ended up going to college and graduating. my son with two AAs my daughter her AA with high honors. she continued on to get her BA at the university of CSUN. both are now on hold with their educations due to lack of funds. (at one time, both had 3 jobs while attending college). my daughter is 23 my son 25.

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Old 11-01-2011, 02:21 PM   #15
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Thank you everyone for your help and ideas that I should consider. My outline is coming along great. Once it is finished I am going to run it by some students currently attending college.

I especially want to thank APACHE and trouble for your personal stories that were sent through private messages.

One part of the outline that I am now needing help with is Native retention. Why do so many Natives drop out of college? What steps can a tribal college, community college, junior college or university take to ensure a high percentage of Native students will graduate?

In today's economy, it is now important to enter the job force with a master's degree in order to compete with other applicants. How do we as Native people encourage our friends, relatives and tribesmen currently in college or who already have their undergraduate degree, to continue their education to achieve their masters and doctorate degrees when some of us are the only college graduates of our entire families?
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Old 11-01-2011, 04:06 PM   #16
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I think the main thing that native college students need is organized support. Having a native student organization is the only thing that saved me from dropping out of a couple colleges. Just knowing that there was someone else around that could relate to what I was going thru - culture shock, being broke and homesick - or that could serve as a mentor, was key.

One of my daughters went thru the native Upward Bound program at CU-Boulder for 3 summers, and beyond. It was a great experience that got the students ready for life on campus, college class structure, and really helped my daughter succeed when she finally went to college.

It is unfortunate that so many native students drop out during their first year. Almost every one I know that went away to college (and not to our local community college although there's a lot there too) that drop out during their first year. And the majority never give it another shot.

After visiting the Andre Agassi school in Las Vegas, we saw how they track each of their high school graduates all the way through college...offering them support, counceling, and information through their entire college career. We hope to inplement something similar at our high school.

There are some programs, however few and far between, that help out native graduate students. My mother was fortunate to get in one of these programs back in the 70's, and that's how she got her masters. There was one at our school to help certified teachers get their masters in school administration.

The big thing there is MONEY!! I'm weighing the benefits of getting my masters against the cost in time and money, and I don't think it would be worth it for me.

But I do think everyone could use a little coddling now and then.
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Old 11-01-2011, 08:31 PM   #17
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The big thing there is MONEY!! I'm weighing the benefits of getting my masters against the cost in time and money, and I don't think it would be worth it for me.

But I do think everyone could use a little coddling now and then.
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i agree 100%+ with these two statements.

having someone who has been ’through it all’ and understands what is to be expected, really can help someone who is seeing the ‘world’ for the first time. especially if a student is leaving everything they know and understand behind. it can be an overwhelming experience for those who have no family or friends for moral support.

the earlier students are prepared for higher education, or just life in general, does make a huge difference for the student to make a smoother transition from dependence to independence. a strong independent person makes for a stronger foundation for the coming generations of THE PEOPLE.
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Old 11-01-2011, 11:56 PM   #18
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One part of the outline that I am now needing help with is Native retention. Why do so many Natives drop out of college?
Because they expect the university to adjust to them.


Quote:
Originally Posted by WhoMe View Post
What steps can a tribal college, community college, junior college or university take to ensure a high percentage of Native students will graduate?
Have stricter standards for Native student acceptance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by WhoMe View Post
How do we as Native people encourage our friends, relatives and tribesmen currently in college or who already have their undergraduate degree, to continue their education to achieve their masters and doctorate degrees when some of us are the only college graduates of our entire families?
By having completed it ourselves, removing their excuses.

For example, I have a Master's degree and I am not special. (Unique, but not special.) All I did was get a college loan, enroll, and go to class.

If a Native -- or any -- student isn't willing to do that, it's nobody's fault but theirs.

Harsh? Not really.

The truth is that the majority of Native university students fail because they were not prepared to be at a university.

Other than lax admissions standards, that's not the fault of the university.
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Old 11-03-2011, 07:30 PM   #19
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The truth is that the majority of Native university students fail because they were not prepared to be at a university.
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Old 11-03-2011, 09:02 PM   #20
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Let me guess.

You blame "generational trauma" and "The Machine?"

Let me reiterate: The truth is that the majority of Native university students fail because they were not prepared to be at a university.

I guess, in theory, we could create Native-specific colleges wherein the would be no attrition and...oh, wait...

What's Haskell's graduation rate, again?

(sigh)
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