Native Women in Social Work

In the past 10 years, the number of Native Americans with a bachelor’s degree has increased from less than 11% to over 15.4%. Over half of our scholars are female, and these women are putting in the work to increase that number even more. Let us introduce you to our College Fund ambassador, Chantel, an Indigenous woman who is truly making a difference:

Failure is inevitable and it happens to everyone, but it takes a resilient individual to get back up and grow from it. College Fund ambassador, Chantel (Comanche Nation), is no stranger to the hardships of alcoholism, mental health, and financial struggle but she is also familiar with the support and love ingrained in her Native identity. Knowing her community will catch her if she falls, Chantel isn’t afraid to fly with her ambition of establishing the first urban Native American social services organization in Oklahoma City.

Despite having one of the highest percentages of urban Natives, Chantel has realized that many in her community haven’t had the same opportunities to connect with their culture. Chantel has taken it upon herself to be a leader and an auntie for all those in her community who need a reminder that when connected to their Native identity and support system, they can accomplish anything.

Being a mother is one of the biggest and most important jobs one could have, as parents are our first educators. For College Fund ambassador Mahpiya (Rosebud Sioux Tribe of the Rosebud Indian Reservation), her children are her biggest motivation, and her education is what gives her the power and strength to make positive change in her tribal community. Covid seriously harmed her community, as it led to the loss of many of their elders who were the primary holders of their language and culture. Identity is the backbone of one’s sense of self, as when you know where you come from you can confidently move forward to where you want to go.

Not wanting her son to grow up with part of himself missing, Mahpiya plans to use her degree to teach at a Lakota immersion school on her reservation. Sharing the stories of their ancestors with her son and others helps them balance both worlds by standing proud as Lakota people.

Looking to learn more?

Get in touch with Liana Epstein to find more stories and reasons to support our work.