About this Episode
Shannon Gonzales-Miller, PhD, shares her dissertation research project that sought to examine the experiences of identity erasure, invisibility and hyper visibility for Urban Indian, graduate students who attended an historically and predominately white public university. She considers how prevailing, monolithic descriptions of Native students influences the classroom experiences of non-Reservation Native students.
Cite this Site
Dr. Lucy Murphy
Hello, welcome to "Re-storying the Experiences of Indigenous College Students," brought to you by the College of Arts and Sciences, the history department, Ohio State Newark Earthworks Center and its Indigenous Arts and Humanities Grant and American Indian Studies at The Ohio State University. My name is Lucy Murphy. I'm a professor of history at Ohio State Newark, and will be your host and moderator today.
Thank you for joining us. Today Dr. Shannon Gonzalez-Miller will examine the experiences of identity erasure invisibility and hyper-visibility for urban Indian students who attended a historically and predominantly white public university. She will consider ways the prevailing description of who is Native shaped the classroom experiences of the participants in the study. Let's get to know our speaker today. Dr. Shannon Gonzalez-Miller is a recent graduate and retiree of the Ohio State University. You may know her from her professional affiliation with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, where she spent over 30 years working with students to support their academic goals, and echo the brilliance and resilience she heard in the stories they shared. She earned all her degrees from Ohio State's College of Education and Human Ecology's Department of Teaching and Learning. Her research interest centers on distinguishing the experiences of urban Indian and Native college-going students, the generation born in the city, from the enduring educational discourse that favors tribal-centric experiences of students. Her research project sought to examine what can be learned about culturally-centered pedagogy is from urban Indian college-going students when their Indigenous identities are overlooked or contested in academic learning spaces.
Shannon's Native story is rooted in her experience as a direct descendant of a parent who lived in an off-reservation state-funded orphanage for his K through 12 years of schooling. She considers her pursuit of a PhD, a form of historical trauma response, based on her understanding of the significance of remembering, reclaiming and re-storying her indigenous ways of knowing, being and becoming. She is Southern Ute and holds dear the Native proverb, "Listen with three ears, two on the sides of my head, and one in my heart, to bring the heart and mind together."
We acknowledge that the Ohio State University occupies the ancestral territory of the Shawnee, Delaware, Miami and Wyandotte peoples and the people of Fort Ancient, Hopewell, and Adena cultures. The campuses of the university reside on land ceded in the 1795 Treaty of Greenville. In 1830, the passing of the Federal Indian Removal Act forced the removal of the Indigenous peoples from this land. We honor the legacy of these tribal nations and recognize the many diverse Indigenous peoples living here today and the generations of scholars yet to arrive. With that introduction, let me mention the plan today. Dr. Gonzales-Miller will speak for about 30 minutes, and then she will take your questions and we will open things up for discussion. If you are interested in asking a question, please write it in the q&a function at the bottom of your screen on Zoom. Now without further ado, let me pass you over to Dr. Shannon Gonzales-Miller, who will take us on an exploration of restoring the experiences of Indigenous college students.
Dr. Shannon Gonzales-Miller
Thank you, Lucy. I appreciate that. That was a nice introduction that you offered. I'm going to go ahead and share my screen. Okay, so as Lucy, it's an honor to be here, and I'm very appreciative of the opportunity to share my research experience for my dissertation. I just graduated in December of 2020. So it's still relatively fresh, and but ever in the revising process without question. So it's a, it's a great opportunity to be able to express what my findings are and what my learning continues to be. So I want to begin with some acknowledgments, I certainly want to thank the College of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Lucy Murthy and Clara Davison, and we just went over this, Dr. Nicholas Breyfogle, for the work with me to make sure that this would be a presentation that met the needs of their webinar series, and to support me in this process. So it's been a pleasure getting to work with you and getting to know you. Of course, I've known I've known Lucy for gosh, I think almost all of my career. So she's like a sister to me in terms of being part of the community that I hold so dear.
I also want to acknowledge my faculty committee, who of course, without them, certainly wouldn't be at this at this phase, as I still adjust to, to my new title of Dr. Gonzalez-Miller. So my advisor, Dr. Cynthia Tyson, who is just the most warm and welcoming advisor, friend, encourager, supporter that a student could have. And my committee consisted of Dr. Timothy San Pedro, also in the College of Education,
Dr. Maurice Stevens, in Comparative Studies, and Dr. Candace Stout, and Art Ed. And so without them, again, all their influences, I think, hopefully, are present in my research, and in this presentation today, so I thank them. And then, of course, my family, which this is dedicated to them, my research is dedicated to them, and to their support that they've offered through this long process. By no means was this a traditional process, as I both retired and graduated within months of each other. So it was the right time to do everything. And I needed all of the experiences up to this point, to be able to produce the manuscript and the manuscripts to come. And so it was through their patience, and their love that helped me get through to the point of completion and then their patience that allow me to continue on this process. So I recognize oh, actually recognize them in just a minute. But I for sure want to point out my daughter, Sydney Miller, or her indigenous name, Indigo Gonzales, who has been, I can't even I don't even have words to describe how supportive she's been through this process, of me, taking on this role of being a student, and being a full-time employee and what that meant to her life, and how it impacted her ability to just be a kid or just be a young adult. She often tells me my need to put on my mom hat and take off my administrative hat or my researcher hat and talk to her like I'm her mom. So I'm acknowledging her today that I want to be mindful of all three of those hats I wear, and I can let go of my work hat, my administrative hat, my higher administrative hat now to become to focus on her, being her mom and support her and her new academic journey that will begin hopefully in the fall. She's a great inspiration to me in terms of being just a tremendous intellectual scholar.
So my family, I get to use my little pointer here. So I wanted to share my family. This is my younger sister Terry. This is me and my mom, my older sister Stacy, and this is my father. This picture was taken about in the early 1980s, so quite some time ago. But it reflects the complexity, I think, of our family. My younger brother is missing. I'm not sure where he was. I was thinking about that all night. Where was he, at this time? But I'm from California. I'm from the Bay Area from Fremont, California and this is where this picture was taken.
This picture over here shows my father, with what, I'm not sure who these people are. I think it's a class reunion, potentially a high school class reunion. But I'm not 100% sure, that's what the picture is. We found this picture, it was given to us after his passing. And I just find it so intriguing of how I now see that he looks much more indigenous than I ever noticed when he was, when I was younger. When I was younger, he was just my dad. But now it makes sense to me some of the challenges that he faced with being a Native person and, and all that goes with that, and I'll explain more about that in a minute.
To clarify some terminology, I wanted to talk a little bit about how I use the term Indigenous. So Indigenous meaning original to an area or to land or a region, but which is a common way in which might be used. But for me, it's more than a name, it's more than a noun. I do not refer to myself as indigenous, I refer to myself as Native because that's the way I was raised. That's the term that I grew up with, because we always knew we were Native.
When I say we, I mean my siblings. Um, but I use the term Indigenous in terms of my Indigenous ways of knowing and being. That's the way in which I apply it. And in this sense, I'm referring to my personal and political beliefs and choices. And I make sense out of this from a logic that is informed by my lived experiences, my education, my political, spiritual, environmental beliefs. Native American is a term that is commonly used as a kind of an overarching noun. And I use that interchangeably sometimes with American Indian although I rarely use that term American Indian only in literature if I have to do that, if it shows up in writing, because that is a government description for Native people. Native Americans being those born, native people born in the United States, and Urban Indian is one that I've been using recently and of course, it's what my research is based in based on and it is those Native people that were born in the city or not on reservations.
So what inspired me... I wanted to begin with the inspirations for my research. It's been an ongoing, it's ongoing again, because I've been at this for a long time, it's been an ongoing inspiration. It's been something I wanted to do for quite some time. And Thomas King's quote from his says that, "You're not the Indian I had in mind." And I encountered that much like he did over the course of my life, that I know that I'm not meeting the expectations of what many people have, of what it means to be native, when they meet me. So physically, my phenotype does not necessarily match that.
Obviously, I look maybe obvious to you, but I look more like my mother than I do my father.
Nonetheless, I wanted to talk about my connection to my identity and how that inspired me. So let me start with the picture. This picture is me sitting under the tree taken at the Colorado Children's Home for Dependent and Neglected Children in Denver, Colorado when I visited on March 25, in 2018.
This picture is on the grounds of, was taken on the grounds of the place, the residential school or the orphanage, where my father was raised. It was a place that I had visited once before when I was about 12, or 13. We didn't actually get out of the car and get on the grounds because when we drove up to the place my father took us there. We drove from California to Colorado to Denver. He wanted to show us this place where he was raised. He talked about it often, and interestingly in a very positive way.
In terms of supporting him, that doesn't mean that it wasn't traumatic because it was. But just in terms of the way he verbalized it, which I think was due to his training, and the way he was taught to talk about his experience, was that it was positive.
So here I am at this place sitting under a tree that my daughter suggested that I sit under, as she believed that this was a place where my father sat, where he was, when he was on the grounds. So my father was there from age five or six, I'm not sure, until he graduated from high school, so till age 18, and went into the military. So he really did spend all of his schooling years here in this space.
So I like that it's kind of a reflective, I'm reflecting on what my daughter was telling me about what she thought happened at this place in terms of her understanding, and the kind of spiritual way and what was going on.
So this connects, this is a grounding space for my Southern Ute identity, and my and our family's inability to be enrolled in our tribe. So this experience by my father and his siblings living here meant that he was not enrolled in his tribe. And so we were unable and still have been unable to make that connection.
So I often am concerned about identifying a Southern Ute, because sometimes that leads to more questions.
Specifically, regarding my research, where this showed up for me most often or where I really grappled with it was in the classroom.
So over the latter part of my academic journey, I struggled with whether I would include my Southern Ute identity when introducing myself in my classes. And why would that be important, you might ask? Well, when the question came up, well, what is your research about? Knowing that it was going to be, include, my lived experience and my family's experience, it was a question of how can I, how can I tell that story without identifying?
And so it was really a place of tension for me for actually, all the way up until my last class that I have. So my classroom experience not only influenced my interest in my research area, but also served as the reminder of the many times that I spent defending or denying my lived experiences. And this involved determining what I would share when I was in these spaces, when I would share, how much I would share, with who and most importantly, how I would protect my family story. That was my primary goal. So I really had to make a conscious decision. I remember thinking about it before, you know, several days before class because I knew it was coming. And so I would spend time trying to figure out how I was feeling while I was in my research process. What did I feel comfortable saying? What might I encounter?
What questions, what was, what questions would I face? And was I ready to answer?
So I want to spend a little bit more time explaining my time here on the grounds of this, of this orphanage or this, the Colorado State Home for Dependent and Neglected Children. It's a story that I think I'll write later, but I think it's very meaningful to me in terms of my own identity, sense of identity. So the picture with the smokestack is important and symbolic. And, and extremely important to me because I was I was, as I was on the ground, I called my sister, my younger sister, Terry, and told her where we were, and she asked me, What did I see? What could I see while I was on the grounds? And I told her, and I described this picture, that there was a, this smokestack, which behind it was a golf course, not surprising. And then behind that were the Rocky Mountains. And she said, Do you remember the stories that dad told us about climbing that smokestack? And I said, No. And she went on to tell me, remember the story, and it was a fun story. And we laughed. And as she told me, I said, oh, gosh, now I do remember because I remember laughing as my dad told the story. So it's very symbolic to me in terms of grounding, literally grounding myself in this space. The picture below is the administration building, that's what it has on the signage. It's now part of Denver University and so that's additional signage. We were there on the weekend, so I was unable to go in. But at some point, I would like to revisit and go in the building just to get a sense of what's in there, what's changed and maybe what's familiar.
The smaller building, the picture of the smaller building is where we began, is essentially where we landed after we decided this was the place. We drove around for quite some time and we said this has to be the place. This is the orphanage as my dad referred it to as a residential school. So I was sitting in our rented SUV looking at this building, and with my daughter who was in the car with me and a friend of hers, and someone pulled up and pulled into the parking lot to the left. And I said, I'm going to get out and ask that person questions about this building, if I feel comfortable. And just as I, before I even opened the door, that person had gotten out of his car and started to walk towards me. I said, Oh, I'm getting out to ask him what this building is. And so we approached each other. And I introduced myself and asked him what the building was. And he shared with me that it is the Denver police SWAT training. The building that the Denver police uses for their SWAT training. But on the, you can't see on the logo up above. Up here, it says, I can't remember the name here. But it's a gymnasium. So it originally was the gymnasium for the orphanage for the children.
So I asked him if he knew what the building was before it was occupied or owned by the Denver police. And he said, Yeah, I think I heard the story. The story goes, that it was an orphanage. And I said, Yeah, that's my understanding as well. And my father was, lived here for his years of schooling. And I asked him if I could go in. And he took me in, and allowed me to walk through as much as I wanted, to spend as much time as I wanted in there. So it was a fascinating experience. I didn't take any pictures inside. I just wanted to feel it and just be there, at least for the first time. And hopefully I'll be able to go back and, and do some more research there. I'm not sure if it's, of course that was 2018, so I'm not sure what's going on now in 2021. But part of my journey I needed to do that. I needed to be there in order to know that I could tell the stories that I was going to tell because I didn't necessarily have permission from my father to tell stories. And I, but I needed to make them my own. I needed to think about how this was part of my story. But nonetheless, talking about residential schools, those of you that were available, or listened to Dr. Jacobs', presentation, she talks about residential schools as well. I like this. I like this description in particular, that the goal of residential schools is we instill in them, them meaning Indigenous children, a pronounced distaste for native lives, but they will be humiliated when reminded of their origin. When they graduate from our institution the children will have lost everything Native except their blood.
So I resonate deeply with this. This is part of my father's trauma. His own self-image was quite troubling for him. And I love that the notion that they would have lost everything except their blood. Well, this Bishop was wrong. We retained our stories.
So part of the legacy is I shift from telling my father's story and my place in the story, I really do want to bring myself into the story and what was the legacy of my father's experience and being a direct descendant of a residential school survivor. And these pictures are meaningful to me in terms of one of the experiences and the stories that my father told about having his head shaved or deloused when he first arrived at the orphanage, which is a common story for students that arrive or children that arrived in these spaces, that their hair is changed. Again, the humiliation part is important for this because hair is very sacred and very important to Native people to some Native people, most Native people. And so to have your hair cut is traumatic, it's mostly, most of the times hair is cut for ceremonial reasons. And so it was a distinction to make the change to make the shift for being Native in the civilizing process. So the picture above I wanted to cite the source. It's important that we show pictures, when we show pictures, of Native people that we cite the source. So the picture is from where the children are, it's a web page and the campaign foundation in Canada. And the bottom picture is from one of my most favorite documentaries on boarding schools. So if you have time and you're interested, it's very well done.
And I particularly like the close up picture of these young girls. And this is the reason why. So thinking of these young girls in this picture who I unfortunately don't know their names, here is me and my younger sister, who, surprisingly, in my researcher lens now look very similar to these young girls. When we were younger, or even as we were younger, I hated my hair being short like this, because in the mid 60s, in the mid 60s, this was not the hairstyle. So my sister and I were, we didn't have an option. This is what my dad said our hair was to look like. I don't recall my mother having a say in this, she was the one that cut our hair. And when we got a little bit older, like in our 20s, and 30s, we used to tease my mom about the great job or not so great job, she did in cutting our hair. And that was really the source of the stories from the pictures. But later on, I've learned that maybe it actually was my father, suggesting that this would be the best way for his children to represent themselves.
And the children and the school desk connects to my school pictures. So I believe this is a first or second grade picture, and then a third grade picture of me. Again, having to endure now and I consider endure this hairstyle up until about sixth grade where I pleaded, pleaded with my father to allow me to let my hair grow. And so my school pictures do show that progress that my hair every year got longer and longer, until I was in high school. And then it was in the 70s and it was reflective of the traditional long and straight hair of other people during that time. And one of the challenges that I had during this was people, even though the style for older males was to have long hair, confused me as a boy or I was teased as being a boy with short hair. So it was really problematic for me. But I understand why. Now I understand why and have worked through that.
So moving down the funnel and kind of narrowing in, focusing in, on my research, so stepping into this research space, I wondered, you know, hanging on to the story or thinking about the stories that I had, and the story that I wanted to tell and the research I wanted to produce is what sense of agency was available to me when I talked about the naming of my pain and the naming of myself. So naming of myself as a native person, as a Southern Ute not enrolled. And then the pain stories, as I learned from scholars that needed to be careful about telling those pain stories, and our stories was more than that. But how could I, what would I do with that? Because it was hurtful sometimes for me to tell the pain stories and receive their reaction, but I, but I did. Not hurtful, that's the wrong word. It was, it was, it touched me. It moved me. I felt bad, I felt guilty that I shared a pain story that made, that made others feel bad about the circumstances that happened. So I often got in my head a lot about it.
But also then, thinking about that, and in problematizing that even a little bit, I wondered if my pursuit of my PhD was a form of historical trauma response. So still something I'm questioning is still something that I will probably write about later.
So what are the issues then that were in the research? Or what are the issues that I was trying to address very directly. So I had these big kind of, you know, lived experiences in terms of my own education being a challenge, my father's education, my daughter's education.
And so what was I going to specifically focus on? So when I thought about the discord, the contention, you know, what was in the disunity? What was the clutter? What was the divergent points? And those came up from, I learned from Tommy Orange and in his novel, there and from other scholars that the matters of urban Indian meeting non-reservation, indigenous people, or indigenous peoples born in the city have largely been overlooked in the educational discourse. Sandy Grande talks about that, in her book, "Red Pedagogy." But what's more commonly found are the ethnographic studies that are tribal centric or site specific. So meaning the studies of a Native, of Native people, by usually non-native scholars, so those researchers that are out in the field or maybe on reservations that are studying people, so those are the ethnographic studies, studying behavior.
So that's the more, that was more common in the scholarship. And adding to the discord and the incongruence is the notion that two thirds of this, of those identifying as Native Americans live in the cities. But yet that reservation Indian stereotype unmistakably dominates popular culture and leaving that, which leaves the urban Indian as an invisible majority.
So a final, another, interest was that I needed to address, and thought it was important to address, was my interest in understanding the underpinnings of the persistent erasure narrative of indigenous peoples, especially in textbooks or in the classroom.
I was very much interested in that. And I entered into the research space wanting to contribute to the scholarship of indigenous scholars, existing indigenous scholars, who questioned colonialist determinism, about who decides who is Native American. So related to that eraser and related to, related to erasing the story, connected to that is a decision about who is Native American and who is important. So that was also my interest.
The researchers, the scholars that influenced, that had a significant influence on me, on my research, are Brian Brayboy, and Dr. San Pedro. Brian Brayboy visited Ohio State for an event that was hosted by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the College of Education. So Dr. Kinloch, at the time was a faculty member of the College of Education and she supported us in bringing Dr. Brayboy here to campus. And Dr. Brayboy's work, he did a study on students that attended the Ivy League schools. And his research is his story. And the study, there was very much someone that I wanted to replicate at a research one institution at a public institution. So he was very influential. And also his travel critical race theory was very influential in me being able to move from a critical race theory to a travel critical race theory. Which he extends he extends the critical race theory to talk about things that are important in terms of indigenous Ways of Knowing around relationships, and storying. And Dr. San Pedro's scholarship, in particular about troubling, what it means to be Native American, that was very, Native American or indigenous, that was very helpful in helping me to unpack the complexity of it and feeling comfortable challenging it. And saying, instead of answering the question of who you are, we can travel the question and say, ask, you know about, well, tell me more about who you are. And then we can find a place in which we can get to know each other.
So I had these ideas that I wanted to research and, but for what purpose? What would be the motivation to do this? It was more than just writing a story. I didn't have to do a dissertation. I could have written a book. I wrote an article. With a master's degree, I didn't have to necessarily step into the dissertation space, the research space, but I wanted to do that. And my reason for doing that, my motivation for pursuing the study was my desire to privilege the experiences of urban Indian students college-going students based on my experience of not finding the pervasive fitting in, in the pervasive tribal centric narrative, therefore unable to meet the expectations held by others of what it means to be Native American. And I was committed to developing a study that perhaps would benefit the participants or the Indigenous community and the participants that were part of my research. So, that was my goal. That was my, that was my motivation. That was my, what I wanted to give back.
So my grand research question then developed over time. And that was, what can be learned about culturally centered pedagogical practices from urban Indian college-going students when their Native identities are overlooked in classroom spaces? Our research project was based in my theory, in terms of my project, was grounded in the tribal critical race theory as I mentioned. My methodology was Indigenous research methodology to allow for me to bring in the stories of the urban college-going students and my method was virtual Indigenous, was a virtual Indigenous talking circle. I planned to do a talking circles, to host talking circles in person on campus, but then the pandemic hit. So we held our talking circle virtually just as campus closed or just after campus closed, probably the week after campus closed. So part of my research talks about what it was like to, to host a virtual conversation, which now, it's kind of a mute issue because everybody understands what it's like.
So thinking about story and the importance of story and what is story because I talk in this title about restorying. So it's important to kind of understand what story is or what story means to me and my understanding of it. So I like this definition that Leslie Marmon-Silko has, and she writes that for those accustomed to being taken from point A to B to C in a story, her presentations, or her particular presentation that she was writing about may have been difficult to follow. And sometimes I think my stories are difficult to follow, as well, because they're not necessarily from point A to point B to point C. Instead, stories can be like a spiderweb, where many threads radiate from the center where the story begins, criss-crossing over one another through as the stories emerge. And as with the web, the structure unfolds as it is made. So the stories create the web, create the connections, create the relationships, and then create a bigger story that we sometimes are restoried telling each other stories to other audiences in different spaces as their stories and stories that I hear become my story as well. So the story that I heard from my father becomes my story. And the stories that I've heard from the participants became part of my story as well.
And in this structure that's unfolding, we're listening, hopefully, and trusting that the meaning will unfold and emerge. So but that is up to the story listener to make meaning of the story that's, the stories that are being told or shared.
So when I just break that up a little bit more, or dive a little bit deeper into and talk about types and elements of story, just to make a distinction between in a very broad and general way Indigenous storytelling and non-Indigenous storytelling. So when we talk about Indigenous stories we talk about in terms of type, we're talking about personal narrative, or, of place happenings and experiences and oral histories. And the elements are what usually shows up in the stories, there can be a lot of symbolism, they're interpretive, and they transcend time.
For non-Indigenous stories, they typically are exploratory. This would be what much of our Western training is about in terms of how we produce stories. So exploratory and exploratory stories are to understand an unknown concept. They're descriptive, they document a concept, and they're explanatory. They're explaining patterns, and relationships.
So I want to talk briefly about the data collection process and what that indigenous talking circle, that virtual talking circle was like. So the participants from our research understood what the process would be, and how their stories would be protected, as unlike interviews, where it might be one-on-one, this would be a time where we would come together and hear each other's stories, and how would we, how would we care for each other in the space, and then care for each other's stories that we were about to hear?
So, my participants, the participants turned to storytellers. I felt uncomfortable using the academic term participant and then shifted in my writing when I got to this point to talk about the data collection to storytellers. So so the storytellers were eager to share their stories. They had, based on indigenous research methodology, knew each other. And we all were in relationship. So I was part of this community. We had strong relationship, we knew each other well. And I became a storyteller as well, sharing my story in connection to the questions that were posed to the storytellers.
My study questions, specifically the ones that were posed to the students or to the storytellers, were what assumptions need to be challenged in our thinking about what it means to be urban or what urban Indian means. And what specific perceptions about pedagogical practices stand out for urban Indian students at predominantly white and historically institutions. And what lessons about culturally centered pedagogical practice can be learned from urban Indian students. It was very important to me that we weren't looking at performance of urban Indian students, that I really was looking at the pedagogical practices. That was my focus, is what needed to change around that and what could we learn from the students that experienced, what their experiences were in the classroom? How did that inform? How could that inform the practices of culturally centered pedagogical ways of teaching?
So quickly moving into my findings, the first finding was Troubling Urban Indian definition. I accepted the term. It makes sense to me, based on primarily on the fact that Tommy Orange who used the term in his book There There was from the same place I was, so he's from the Oakland area, the Bay Area. And so I connected deeply to his, to the visuals that he used and the way he described urban Indian as one being born in the city, where there's buildings and concrete. And we lose our connection to the mountains and to the water, because we're raised in this kind of concrete jungle. And I recognized quickly that the question contained presumptions that reflected my acceptance, not the storyteller, my acceptance of the definition, and not the storytellers. Their responses left no doubt about the storytellers' disconnect and resistance to Orange's definition and characterization of urban Indian. As such, their responses to the question turned into problematizing, what was deemed to be romanticizing. Tommy Orange was romanticizing the city, urbanization of the city and a complete disregard for the destruction of the sacred life giving and culturally sustaining land upon which the cities were built, a very important distinction, something I had not considered prior to having this conversation. So the storytellers talked about the distinction between urban versus reservation Indian, which is, one of the stories in particular talked about the distinction for him between urban Indian and reservation Indian. And he said that he was often considered as inauthentic or not a real Indian.
He said you're not connected to your culture, therefore, you shouldn't have an opinion on what the issues are around Native about what Native issues are.
He said I heard insults like cloud chaser because you didn't grow up on a reservation. You're only authentic if you grew up on the rez. If you didn't grow up on the rez, you should not talk about Native issues.
While I think that it's important for urban Natives to not speak on rights issues. Because we don't understand these issues. I think that it gets easily conflated into, don't talk about Native issues at all because you don't understand.
So my second finding was the student as teacher so thinking about in the classroom, what were the challenges that the storytellers faced. The notion of student as teacher was the most common outcome, when challenges with or about their identities were presented, their Indigeneity was presented. To be clear though the student as teacher was not a role the storytellers wanted or welcomed. Instead, student as teacher left the storyteller is grappling with three primary concerns, the tension to correct incorrect historical influences and references about Native people, the hardship of being invisible as an indigenous person without becoming the teacher, for the class on all things Native and the possibility if they did become the teacher of creating openings for questions about their Nativeness. So it was something that they struggled with quite a bit. And one of the stories taught, one of the storytellers talked about her encounters with people asking her about sports mascots. And she said she grew up in a large metropolitan city, where she was asked what her thoughts on mascots were and she said she didn't know she was entitled to an opinion. Assuming that we all had thoughts on those things is putting, was putting her on the spot that she would just know about mascots.
Move to this last one quickly. So my last finding was invisibility as a survival strategy, and invisibility as Brayboy describes, a self-imposed strategy to minimize being observed by the dominant population. The findings for this project suggest that we use similar strategies when negotiating our learning spaces. For instance, observation, intuition and assessment were used to determine what will be revealed about our identity and learning spaces. This strategy can form the degree of invisibility or visibility related to to our identities that will be revealed for the purpose of minimizing emotions, our own emotions of anger, frustrations, and experience with erasure and misinformation while also managing fatigue over the curiosity or guilt by Native, non-Native about Native things from non-Native people. So, one of the quotes from the research is one of the biggest things I noticed when talking about Native identity, is it depends on who you trust. I found no reason to talk to professors with whom I knew I would not have relationship with. So he was, no question that he wasn't going to, that he was not going to share who he was, his identity. So the last research finding that I want to share is one of those storytellers who talked about a professor who was in an Indigenous theme, Indigenous theme class, and she took the initiative to meet the professor before to get the weirdness out of the way of introducing herself. During the meeting she shared she went ahead and shared her tribal affiliation and some of the, some of her story, and much to her surprise the professor asked if there was anything she wanted to learn, that was not included in the syllabus. And if so, he promised to provide that information for her. She said that she felt welcomed by this professor because she knew her Native it, her Native history was not going to be told to her. Instead, the professor's adaptability built a sense of trust, in a space where her knowledge about Native traditions and history were honored. In other words, a shift from the professor telling stories to the professor hearing stories, and bringing them into the topic of the day or week created space for the student stories to serve as a learning resource for the class and for the students to observe their professor connecting their stories to other and to the topics, the course of the topics, the topics of the course.
So to end, the future research is, I'm interested in what Carter's article talks about what blended bodies trigger regarding patriotism, nationalism, and erasure. And I wonder what mixed urban or blended urban people and what their bodies tell about how they influence learning spaces and culturally centered pedagogies especially. So I am with my responsibility as an Indigenous researcher. So to be clear, I need to be clear about why I identify as Southern Ute. It's my responsibility. For me, my identity as Southern Ute honors my tribal connection and my agency to reclaim our relation to our tribe when my father could not. I need to be mindful. It's my responsibility to be mindful of who, with whom, I use the survivor framing of my story to minimize misunderstanding, or othering that I may inadvertently generate when offering details about my lived experience. It's my responsibility to be aware of my need, my own need, for ongoing healing associated with questions about blood quantum, tribal citizenship, so that I may receive the questions without judgment, but instead as an opportunity to continue my healing work. So I now receive or try to receive the questions of the gift to continue to unpack the emotions around this, around these pain points. And I practice loving the question which will aid in guiding me to an ever emergent response that honors my story. So thank you. I know I went over my time a little bit.
Dr. Lucy Murphy
Thank you, Shannon. Thank you very much for that interesting presentation. I'm delighted.
We can now take questions, and Dr. Gonzales Miller will take questions. I'm going to start out with one question here.
How can your research help teachers to do a better job in relation to Native students?
Dr. Shannon Gonzales-Miller
My research can help teachers so how can my research help teachers do a better job in terms of what was the second part? In relating to native students?
Dr. Lucy Murphy
In relation to Native students, in teaching Native students, in communicating and helping.
Dr. Shannon Gonzales-Miller
So I think what hopefully my research shares is to is to unpack that, unpack that question a little bit more. And to say, are we talking about Native students? Are we talking about sharing Native stories? Are we talking about in classrooms? Under what circumstances? Is this a history course that we're going to talk, share Native stories? And in that way, what I would want or hope that my research would suggest is that there's a complexity. I think about moving beyond the stereotype of the reservation Indian or at least trouble that notion when it comes up in that native people are much more complex than that. And talk about urban Indian and talk about us being in the present and in the future and what we contribute, when we can contribute. And then the other part of unpacking that is understanding who's in the classroom. Or who's in the space. How do we talk about, we don't want to talk about people like one of the storytellers said that you're telling my story without knowing that I'm here in the space. So I hope my research informs teachers to think about how they might raise questions about sharing stories of who you are, so that you can welcome and identify people that are Native in your spaces that may not meet that physical presence that helps you to identify them.
Dr. Lucy Murphy
Thank you. We have a couple more questions. Here's one, what kinds of events caused Native people to be disconnected or disenrolled from their tribes? And what are the implications for students today? Briefly, I know you could probably write a whole dissertation and two or three, four books on it.
Dr. Shannon Gonzales-Miller
But I think it essentially can really be narrowed down to removal. For at least for me, and that's my experience. So for, particularly for boarding school on survivors that is, can be particularly troubling. Because in my case, my father going so young to the boarding school, he lost connection with his family. The part of the process of being in a boarding school is you're disconnected from your siblings, you're not you're not to speak your language or not just you know, have the comfort of your sibling so that the children are separated. So my father wasn't able to, to have that support and have those stories. And then, since he was so young, he really was disconnected from his family. Later in life, he was able to connect with some of his siblings, his sisters. But we've been unable to trace, we know who my grandfather is, but we've been unable to make that connection. My sister's done actually most of the work to be able to be tribal enrolled. And that's for me in particular, so I can't express, I don't know what everybody's experience is. But it's the removal from our tribes, from our tribal places, to other places that creates the problem. So my father is originally from I don't even know the city he was born in. I do from research, I don't know from him telling me. He's from southern Colorado, the Southern Ute reservation is at the very opposite southwest corner of Colorado. And he was taken to Denver, which he always said is where he was from. And that is about a 400 mile car ride or 400 miles from the southern Denver to southern Colorado to Denver. It's about a four hour car ride and I'm not sure how long by train, there was a rail, a railway that went from that area up to Denver, which is how I'm sure they transported the children. But removing their children from their families as a way of disconnecting our tribe and being able to be tribally enrolled, and I have to be okay with that. I have to not yearn for that. Because this is my story. So that's how it affects me today.
Dr. Lucy Murphy
All right. I have a interesting question here. The person writes, I really appreciated you listing your responsibilities as an Indigenous researcher. Do you think that naming and listing responsibilities would be important for non indigenous researchers and teachers, especially when working with indigenous people, culture knowledge, experience, responsibilities as a settler?
Dr. Shannon Gonzales-Miller
Yeah. Yeah, I think as I as I reflected in preparing this presentation, that my, my research was, and my responsibility as an Indigenous emerging Indigenous scholar, is to make sure that I am attending to the protocol, in Indigenous research methodology. That's a and it's very clear and explicit. And so it's as much about that it is, as it is my findings. And so therefore, I think it is important for me to share my responsibilities of why I'm doing this work. It also then allows people to connect to me or find a place somewhere they can share their story with me, in terms of understanding how I am in this process. So I do think that it would be something that would be interesting for all people to think about what your responsibilities are for the reader. It's a very deep reflective or reflextive process.
Dr. Lucy Murphy
Thank you so much. I think we're about out of time here. We haven't been able to answer all the questions. But we're very grateful to you Shannon, for your very interesting presentation. I'm delighted that you could share with us today. Thank you. Please join me for giving her a virtual round of applause. And we would like to thank the College of Arts and Sciences, especially Clara Davison, Madey Khurma and Jade Lac and Nick Breyfogle. And once again, thank you to our audience for your excellent questions and your ongoing connection to Ohio State. Stay safe and healthy and we hope to see you next time. Thanks.