| 2021 E-NEWSLETTER | VOLUME 21, ISSUE 3 |
Circle of Hope
Let’s Call It What It Is
We politely call it erasure. Erasure of language and culture, erasure of our voices, knowledge, and perspectives. We use the word erasure, as it’s so much more comfortable for people to hear and accept. But given the events of the past several months, I will no longer call it erasure, I am calling it what it is and has always been – genocide.
I think we need to start being honest about the past. A past where Indian children were forcefully taken from their homes, placed in boarding schools that bore similar characteristics to internment camps, and were killed and buried in mass graves. This was done by the very country that fought against Hitler’s Germany and the Holocaust.
How can we as human beings not feel the pain and loss of the families and communities whose children were ripped from their homes, never to return? And, most importantly, what is the impact today of the losses experienced by our families and communities? Some might say, “Oh, that happened a long time ago,” but in reality, though many of the boarding schools were closed down by the 1930s, some still exist in the United States today. And in Canada, boarding schools were part of the country’s policy until the 1990s. People of my generation were directly touched by boarding schools, as well as the children and grandchildren of those who survived and the relatives of those who did not.
When people say they don’t believe historical events have to influence my life today, I simply must disagree. Poverty, addiction, depression, and anxiety are passed down from generation to generation. The stripping of resources, culture, language, land, ways of being and knowing, and, yes, even our children, created the challenges we still experience today with poverty, addiction, and suicide. Historical trauma is real.
Healing from the past and reclaiming our power is one of the hardest things we will do in our lifetime – made even more difficult by the continued reminders of erasure and, yes, genocide that still occur today. COVID was a glaring reminder of the inequities that currently exist in Native communities and for Native people, and of all the past wrongs against our people.
Healing from the past and reclaiming our power is one of the hardest things we will do in our lifetime – made even more difficult by the continued reminders of erasure and, yes, genocide that still occur today.
Please know how much you matter to us in this journey – your support makes all the difference in the world to our students. And even more importantly, your acknowledgement and sharing of truth will help ensure the future is a safer place for our students and communities – and for all of us.
Pilamayayapi (thank you) for your support and friendship,
College Fund Scholar
Studying Law To Help Shape Tribal Futures
However, today Native voices in the legal profession are changing the course of justice in Indian Country. Just this year, amidst all its chaos and tragedy, we saw groundbreaking work to uphold Native rights in the courts, and the recognition of tribal treaty rights and self-determination. The law therefore becomes both tribal sovereignties’ most significant threat but also our strongest advocate. Diversifying the legal profession is therefore crucial in determining how the law will impact tribal communities for generations to come, but there are barriers.
Like many Native students, I often struggled to reconcile diligence with gratitude for the opportunities afforded to me in a world that says I don’t deserve them. But, instead of letting this weight bury my dreams, I let it drive me through opportunities not granted to generations before, reminding me always what my education and experiences will do for my Tribe and other tribal communities. To me, a law degree means more than what I can achieve myself. It means playing a small part in designing a future where Native students can use their education to uplift our communities, rather than strip those identities from us. It means working towards my goals and, maybe one day, inspiring others to follow.
Samantha (Wampanoag Tribe of Aquinnah), American Indian Law School Scholarship Recipient, Juris Doctor degree at Harvard Law School
There Is Still Work To Be Done
This is the year that needs to change! Over the past 18 months, Native people and communities have overcome unfathomable odds, have risen to every challenge, have been confronted by historical unspeakable truths, and are still here, feeling more determined and hopeful than ever that we will build a better future. We see that every single day in our students. And, even though we’ve always been worth celebrating, that has never been truer than right now.
Tell your relatives, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and even legislators the historical Native truths uncovered over the past 18 months. But also tell them all the great things you’ve learned about today’s Native people and communities. Show them pictures of the students you’re helping support, learn how to fancy dance from an online video, celebrate our music, our knowledge of and connection to the land, and our deepest belief that the environment is ours to care for and not destroy.
Celebrate that our determination and your generosity have helped increase the percentage of Native people with college degrees from less than 13% just a few short years ago to more than 15%. Now THAT’S worth celebrating! It’s time.
YOU Are Making an Incredible Impact!
Thanks to you…
Nearly 4,000 Native students received scholarships totaling more than $9 million in support for things like tuition, rent, food, healthcare, and technology.
86% of scholars who received your support successfully completed their spring 2020 terms.
Congratulations to Our 2021 Graduates!
To our graduates, we see you, we honor your achievements, and we wish you the best of everything in the futures that await you!
And to our donors and friends, we want to send a special thank you for believing in them and helping them cross the finish line!