Native Presence and Sovereignty in College
Sustaining Indigenous Weapons to Defeat Systemic Monsters
Amanda R. Tachine Django Paris
Teachers College Press
What is at stake when our young people attempt to belong to a college environment that reflects a world that does not want them for who they are? In this compelling book, Navajo scholar Amanda Tachine takes a personal look at 10 Navajo teenagers, following their experiences during their last year in high school and into their first year in college. It is common to think of this life transition as a time for creating new connections to a campus community, but what if there are systemic mechanisms lurking in that community that hurt Native students’ chances of earning a degree? Tachine describes these mechanisms as systemic monsters and shows how campus environments can be sites of harm for Indigenous students due to factors that she terms monsters’ sense of belonging, namely assimilating, diminishing, harming the worldviews of those not rooted in White supremacy, heteropatriarchy, capitalism, racism, and Indigenous erasure. This book addresses the nature of those monsters and details the Indigenous weapons that students use to defeat them. Rooted in love, life, sacredness, and sovereignty, these weapons reawaken students’ presence and power.
- Introduces an Indigenous methodological approach called story rug that demonstrates how research can be expanded to encompass all our senses.
- Weaves together Navajo youths’ stories of struggle and hope in educational settings, making visible systemic monsters and Indigenous weaponry.
- Draws from Navajo knowledge systems as an analytic tool to connect history to present and future realities.
- Speaks to the contemporary situation of Native peoples, illuminating the challenges that Native students face in making the transition to college.
- Examines historical and contemporary realities of Navajo systemic monsters, such as the financial hardship monster, deficit (not enough) monster, failure monster, and (in)visibility monster.
- Offers insights for higher education institutions that are seeking ways to create belonging for diverse students.
Amanda R. Tachine is an assistant professor of higher and postsecondary education at the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, Arizona State University.