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Utah's Foremost Platform for Undergraduate Research Presentation
2015 Abstracts

The Struggle of Culture Identity for American Indian Women in Higher Education

Nicolette Parrish, Dixie State University


In a world where it seems nearly impossible for American Indian people to succeed, this presentation will draw upon first-hand interviews with terminal degree-holding American Indian women to demonstrate their successes, failures, resiliency, determination, and strengths in the face of an educational system that has historically been a source of pain and trauma for their communities. Indeed, the relationship between American Indians and academia has not always been a pleasant one. In 1879, Carlisle Indian School was the first Indian boarding school to be opened in the United States. The first boarding schools took American Indian children thousands of miles away from their homelands and forced them to live a foreign lifestyle. They were not allowed to speak their language or live by their traditional and cultural values. A new life was forced onto them and for years American Indians struggled to cope with that cultural and geographical dislocation. 135 years later, American Indians are still struggling to make a connection with the modern world and with their cultural world. It is rare to see an American Indian with a doctorate degree and it is even rarer for that person to be a woman. The quality of education and lack of resources on reservations often leaves American Indian children behind. For this reason, the aim of this project, to collect the oral histories from those that have overcome these obstacles in the face of so much adversity, is especially valuable.