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Introducing Indigenous Student Voices, a series for Native American Heritage Month

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At Stanford, indigenous students account for less than 2% of the overall undergraduate and graduate student body (Data USA). Because of this, we remain invisible. But indigenous environmental movements such as Standing Rock Sioux’s opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline and current efforts to protect Mauna Kea from the Thirty Meter Telescope Observatory have spotlighted indigenous resilience and struggles for sovereignty and self-determination. Because of the momentum and national attention garnered from these movements we, the Stanford American Indian Organization, are partnering with The Daily to launch a Native American Heritage Month series called Indigenous Student Voices. 

We hope that this series further informs the larger Stanford community of indigenous perspectives, histories, cultures and identities. Indigenous peoples are neither a monolith nor a myth; we are living, thriving communities with strong identities rooted in culture, language and land. Through this series, we hope to provide deeper insight into who we are in reality— not who false histories or stereotypes say we are.   

The challenge with producing this series, however, is accurately capturing the breadth, depth and diversity of indigenous peoples, their stories and experiences that exist globally. While we have tried our best to reach out to the majority of indigenous students on campus, we also recognize that we can’t reach everyone. It is also imperative to note that these represent the views of the students writing and are not necessarily the views of the Stanford American Indian Organization. As an organization, we exist to uplift the voices of our community. 

With that being said, we aim to show you a variety of indigenous identities and experiences throughout this series. We will address the lived experiences of students living abroad in countries which have significant roles in the colonization of indigenous peoples, being Native in America and Pacific Islander identities. We will also discuss the complexities of blood quantum in tribal enrollment and the shifting narratives and realities of indigenous women. 

Again, we are establishing Indigenous Student Voices to break false stereotypes and histories of indigenous peoples through the narratives of identity and resilience written by indigenous students themselves. Remember that we all occupy indigenous lands and are thus obligated to listen to the stories of the original inhabitants. Stanford sits on Muwekma Ohlone lands, so in addition to learning about the indigenous students on campus we encourage Stanford affiliates to learn more about the Muwekma Ohlone as well.  

If you are an indigenous student on this campus and want to contribute your narrative to this series, please reach out to Shayna Naranjo at [email protected]or Ravi Smith at [email protected].

Contact Shayna Naranjo at shaynan ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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