Everywhere, teachers are inspired to answer their calling because they want to make a difference in their communities, serve as role models, and empower thousands of children through education.
American Indian students are no different—but there is another, more powerful reason that Native students like Blue, who is pursuing a master’s degree in creative writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts, go into teaching. “Native authorship is a crucial aspect of our sovereignty. As we continue to tell our own stories, we empower the citizens of our nations. When I graduate, I will be able teach classrooms full of Native students and improve American Indian visibility in the writing and teaching profession. It’s just another step in addressing American Indian representation in our students’ higher education journeys.”
“We need teachers that look like us, heroes that sound like us, and role models that come from where we come from. My goal is to fill each of these roles with my work, writing, and the way I live my life.”
Not all our students are the chefs in their homes! But when you read the memory Blue shared with us about this special dish his wife makes for her family, you’ll understand why we had to recreate the recipe to share it with you.
I never had any frybread dishes other than regular Indian tacos before meeting my wife. She will whip up some blanket dogs, which are just hot dogs enclosed in frybread dough and fried until the bread is done.
Served either by themselves or with chili, these tasty little indulgences are just one of many reasons I know I’m the luckiest man in the world for having found my wife. Great for game day or any time you’re feeding a crowd.
The Diné-style frybread recipe is from Marjorie Mitchell, mother of College Fund staff member and Diné tribal member Kelley Mitchell. The revisions were inspired by Blue and his wife.
Put all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and make an indentation in the center for the warm water and start mixing. Mix slowly until the dry ingredients are blended with the flour, being careful not to overwork the dough. The result should be a soft, pliable dough. Rest the dough at room temperature for at least an hour before using.
When the dough is ready, take a portion of it and work it into a flat disc. Wrap hot dogs in frybread dough, then gently place in hot oil until browned.
This outstanding novel is everything I’ve ever wanted in an urban Native story. The characters are strong, and their world feels dangerous and beautiful. It’s Oakland like I’ve never read it before. Story matters, voice matters, and Tommy Orange expertly crafts a powerful saga of trauma, community, and kinship.
Reading Tommy’s book for the first time was an unfamiliar experience, which is odd because I connected to the characters so well. That’s to say, the familiarity I had with the characters in the book was something I wasn’t familiar with. I think anyone who ever grew up in a Native family or community will recognize bits and pieces of their own lives in this work. He’s accomplished something rare: the specific references to the general and we are all better off for it.
Tommy was also the first person to help me with the novel I’m currently writing. He mentored me as part of the Institute of American Indian Arts’ Low Residency Master of Fine Arts Creative Writing program, which was a wonderful experience.
I grew up around water in the river bottoms of the Deep Fork in Oklahoma. We only lived five minutes outside of Okmulgee, but the town never felt like home. The woods did. I would spend hours in the woods alone or with friends just exploring the world around me. And I fished and camped on the river alongside cousins and friends. I don’t think there is a single place that holds more memories for me than the Deep Fork. To this day, I still refer to myself as “country” because of the time I spent in those woods and alongside that river.
As my own children grow up, I want them to have that same connection to the land and that sense of smallness one gets when they are deep in the bush and surrounded by nature. After my wife and I finish our graduate programs, I’ll take my kids to Deep Forks. But until that day comes, city parks and ponds will have to do. My little Locv loves traipsing around the trails with me and now he’s at the point where it’s a challenge just to keep up with him!
This song is a beautiful homage to a special city and Samantha’s vocals are entrancing. You’ll hear this once and want to listen to it again and again. I’ve been her fan since 2008 and only afterwards did I find out she’s Choctaw!
Overlooking the dance circle at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico is a 15-foot-tall bronze sculpture called Raven the Creator by Aleut artist John Hoover.The whole campus is covered with beautiful art lovingly made and cared for by beautiful people. Arriving there as a new student in 2008, I felt a connection to the campus that reminded me of home.
So, imagine my surprise when I later traveled to Anchorage, Alaska and discovered the sculpture in Santa Fe was cast from the original that watches over the Alaska Native Heritage Center’s entry. Hoover’s creation can carry so much meaning for each and every visitor. For me, it wonderfully embodied a truth I’ve come to know and appreciate: wherever there are Indian people, I’m home.