‘Most people don’t really know we’re a thing’: Students, faculty reflect on lack of Native representation at Notre Dame

first_imgEditor’s Note: This is the first story in a two-part series examining the ways Native language and cultural identity are being kept alive by the students of Notre Dame. To learn more about their reflections on language and culture, explore these audio and visual clips.While Fr. Edward Sorin and the Congregation of Holy Cross were given the University’s land by the Bishop of Vincennes, this region of Northern Indiana was not uninhabited. “There’s a history of peace, art and culture on this spot that predates Fr. Sorin,” professor Brian S. Collier said. “When Fr. Sorin arrived, there was already a chapel here. The Pokagon Potawatomi was already worshiping here.” If anything, this is what Collier wants students to know about Notre Dame. Collier, a professor and historian with a Ph.D in Native American Studies, spends much of his time trying to ensure Native history does not become a thing of the past. Photo courtest of Alan Mychal Boyd NASAND co-president Alan Mychal Boyd (left) stands next to U.S. Representative Deb Haaland, who is one of two Native American women to ever be elected to U.S. Congress. Boyd and Haaland are pictured attending the Frank LaMere Native American Presidential Forum.Collier said Catholicism was the commonality that linked Sorin and Leopold Pokagon, the leader of the Pokagon Band of the Potawatomi. While it was originally the Pokagon’s ancestral land, Collier said because of this Catholic connection, the Pokagon and the Congregation of the Holy Cross were able to live in relative harmony together on the land. Since 2013, Collier has run the Native American Initiatives (NAI) program at Notre Dame which, he said, initially started as a “faculty book club” for faculty and staff with degrees in Native American history. Soon, however, the program grew to sponsoring community members to come speak on Native issues at Notre Dame. NAI also works with area students from the Pokagon Band of the Potawatomi. While the program works to support Native students, whether on campus or in the community, NAI also works as an outreach program for other students who are interested in Native history. Collier said that students often “wonder what they can do to support native causes.” The biggest thing, he said, is becoming aware of whose land they grew up on. “People should come to be aware that there’s been sequential immigration on this very land,” he said. “They’re not the first people there and they won’t be the last people there.” This awareness can translate to getting to know the Native students and Native student groups on campus. “Most people don’t really know we’re a thing,” Alan Mychal Boyd, a Notre Dame senior, said about the Native American Students Association of Notre Dame (NASAND). Boyd, who is the co-president of NASAND, said NASAND is not really supported by the University as a whole, but by the people who work within the University. “A lot of faculty and departments [at Notre Dame], especially the Multicultural Student centers, are awesome,” he said. “I think this is true for any native group on any campus — you have to find your support within certain parts of the University.”But, it can be hard for Native students to find support on campus, especially, Boyd said, since this year there are currently no native faculty that work with NASAND at the University.“That’s one thing that we’ve been really pushing and fighting for this past year…at least one Native faculty member would be amazing,” he said. “It’s important because, one, it shows that we’re here and that we have a person at the University who actually understands where we’re coming from as a whole. But, also, it just makes it so much easier to get things like a Native Studies minor or just better conditions.”The University has debated the induction of a Native American Studies minor for years. Boyd said that a Native American Studies minor would give Native students “a kind of authority,” and give them a chance to learn more about their own individual nations, as well as other Native nations. However, learning about Native nations can be a challenge, Boyd said, especially when so few classes choose to even address the history and contributions of Native nations and Indigenous Peoples. “So, any [class] that’s not specifically about Indigenous people usually doesn’t mention them whatsoever,” he said. “I think the most I got out of a class was our Intro to American Politics — it wasn’t in a lecture, it was in a textbook. All it was was one paragraph summarizing hundreds of years of civil rights and struggles with natives. It didn’t even mention that there were individual Native nations.” Over the years, this representational tension has only been exacerbated by the presence of the 12 Christopher Columbus murals on campus. On Jan. 20, however, it was announced that the University would be covering the murals. But yet, so far this year, the murals still remain uncovered. NASAND co-president junior Mikaela Murphy said that while ultimately she was happy with the decision to cover the murals, she would have appreciated more communication from the administration. “I am very happy with the decision that was made to cover the murals,” she said. “But I think it should have been something more permanent. I think President Jenkins should have thought about us when he made that public announcement without consulting us, because it led to us getting a lot of hate when we had nothing to do with the decision.”Paul J. Browne, the vice president of Public Affairs and Communication, said “Fr. Jenkins consulted widely before making a decision about the murals.” While discussions about the murals have all but stopped, Collier said he still finds it hard to tell prospective Native students about the murals. “From my own experience, when Native students come on tour and when they visit us, they always want to come inside the Main Building and I struggle with telling them about the murals,” he said. “I get some harsh reactions on why Notre Dame would have something like that. There is some potential harm to our larger community in placing them in such a prominent spot.” Boyd said he did not know Notre Dame had such murals until his third week on campus. Knowing about the murals as a prospective student might have impacted his decision to attend Notre Dame, he said. “I grew up in a culture where Columbus was a symbol of colonialism, a symbol of extermination and forced conversion and exploitation,” Boyd said. “So, I think, coming here and seeing [the Columbus murals] would have certainly affected my decision. Who people admire says a lot about them.”The lack of representation for Native and Indigenous people is a problem that persists not only in the tri-campus community, but in the country as well. However, some strides are being made towards inclusivity, specifically with the Frank LaMere Native American Presidential Forum held on Aug. 19 in Sioux City, Iowa. Boyd, and other students from NASAND, were able to attend the forum, which was the first of its kind to place focus on Native issues.Tags: Christopher Columbus murals, culture, Father Jenkins, Father Sorin, Heritage, Indigenous, NAI, NASAND, native, Native Americanlast_img read more

Peru Stands Out at WHINSEC

first_imgBy Julieta Pelcastre/Diálogo January 03, 2018 The Peruvian Army (EP, in Spanish) consistently promotes training and personnel exchanges at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC). Recently, EP Captain Jean Carlo Céliz Rocha, instructor at Chorrillos Military School in Lima, received the highest award—the title of Distinguished Honor Graduate—in the Maneuver Captains Career Course at WHINSEC (MCCC-W). WHINSEC teaches the course in conjunction with the U.S. Army’s Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, Georgia. “You don’t work for an award but for the good of your country and the satisfaction of gaining knowledge and experience needed to thrive,” Capt. Céliz told Diálogo. For 26 weeks, 32 students from Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, the United States, and Uruguay trained to become general staff officers and combined arms commanders capable of carrying out combat duties against an adaptable enemy in a full-spectrum environment. The training concluded November 8th, 2017. The captains selected among the best in their service branches and nations were trained on procedures to lead troops and conduct operations with light infantry companies and equipment, combat brigades, and mechanized and armored infantry brigades. They also took classes on human rights, due process, and the rules of engagement. Alpha 5 During MCCC-W, five operations, or alphas, took place. “Alpha 5 was the hardest. We got the order at 0800 hours, and, by 0500 hours, we had to have completed our plan as company commander,” Capt. Céliz said. “This forces the commander to make quick decisions in a limited time frame to develop and execute the plan.” In the fifth operation, Capt. Céliz planned a brigade-level combat mission over urban terrain, in which he had to take action against insurgent elements inside a police station in the city, with the least amount of casualties possible. In addition to using the U.S. Army doctrine as a guide, he used creative thinking and critical reasoning to make decisions and choose a course of action. “Now, with these operations, we see how a well-determined tactical operation from the forces can be undermined by the enemy’s information operations,” Capt. Céliz said. “We have to work legitimately and in strict adherence to international humanitarian law, respect the people and direct our maneuvers against the threat. Of this the Americans have a very clear understanding.” Forever united “No nation, no army can act in isolation. We must be united in order to face common threats,” Brigadier General Miguel Balta, director of Education and Doctrine for EP, told Diálogo. “Our relationship [with WHINSEC] goes back many years. They always help us with military training. They’re leaders in providing training for military, police, and civilian personnel of the Western Hemisphere.” Since 2001, WHINSEC shares the vocation of partner nations’ militaries and security forces in the Western Hemisphere within the context of the democratic principles set forth in the Charter of the Organization of American States. Course attendees have the opportunity to exchange experiences with counterparts from other countries who face similar challenges in different geographic and cultural environments. “WHINSEC’s professional programs have allowed us to spread this vision to 744 Peruvian Army officers, warrant officers, and cadets in the last 10 years,” Brig. Gen. Balta said. “We return to our countries strengthened with military knowledge, tactics, techniques, and procedures—and above all with an idea of the realities and experience of sharing the same space with so many nations that bolster international cooperation,” Capt. Céliz added. On the right path “Peru seeks to provide an excellent education to its military corps. The military doctrine of the United States is a global standard,” Brig. Gen. Balta said. “The U.S. allow us to form better corps with this educational spirit derived from democratic principles.” EP Sergeant Major William Villacorta was appointed WHINSEC’s International Command Sergeant Major in May 2017. In August 2017, 54 cadets from Chorrillos Military School graduated from the institute’s Leadership Development course with honors. Cadets strengthened their knowledge on the use of leadership skills in tactics, techniques, and abilities of light infantry units for the benefit of the military institution. “We are pleased to be on the right path with WHINSEC,” Brig. Gen. Balta said. “This union allows us to make a transformational leap in Peruvian Army doctrine.” “I hope to share with upcoming generations the knowledge I’ve acquired in the United States and get them adjusted to our new realities and new threats, such as narcotrafficking, illegal logging, and human trafficking that impact our region,” Capt. Céliz said. EP plans to establish a Leadership Center of Excellence for officers, warrant officers, and noncommissioned officers to create a ripple effect of what is learned at WHINSEC. Peru also plans to send 63 cadets and four warrant officers to WHINSEC in 2018. The goal is to continue professional development, pursue strategic alliance in education, and train its best officers to be the hemisphere’s leaders. “The modernization of our organization must happen. It’s the fundamental basis of our growth as an army,” Brig. Gen. Balta concluded.last_img read more