First Person, First Peoples: Native American College Graduates Tell Their Life Stories

Overview

Native American students entering college often experience a dramatic confrontation of cultures. As one of the writers in this remarkable collective memoir remarks, "When I was a child, I was taught certain things: don't stand up to your elders; don't question authority; life is precious; the earth is precious; take it slowly; enjoy it. And then you go to college and you learn all these other things that never fit." Making things fit, finding that elusive balance between tribal values and the demands of campus ...

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Overview

Native American students entering college often experience a dramatic confrontation of cultures. As one of the writers in this remarkable collective memoir remarks, "When I was a child, I was taught certain things: don't stand up to your elders; don't question authority; life is precious; the earth is precious; take it slowly; enjoy it. And then you go to college and you learn all these other things that never fit." Making things fit, finding that elusive balance between tribal values and the demands of campus life is a recurring theme in this landmark collection of personal essays.

Navajo or Choctaw, Tlingit or Sioux, each of the essayists (all graduates of Dartmouth College) gives a heartfelt account of struggle and adjustment. The result is a compelling portrait of the anguish Native American students feel justifying the existence of their own cultures not only to other students but also throughout the predominantly white institutions they have joined. Among the contributors are a tribal court judge and a professional baseball player, the first Navajo woman surgeon, and the former executive director of a Native American preparatory school. Their memories and insights are unparalleled.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Thirteen Native Americans . . . describe their experiences in and out of college, focusing on how they coped with sometimes-conflicting cultural demands and how they carried on their heritage. Some came from poor homes where alcoholism was common; others had highly educated parents who gave them encouragement and support. For most, however, success did not come easily. . . . The essays are fresh and engaging and of high literary and journalistic quality. A unique perspective on a much-neglected aspect of college life; highly recommended."—Library Journal

"This unique work assembles autobiographical essays by 13 Native American Dartmouth alumni, each writer compellingly describing his/her social and cultural background, struggles (all share hurt at Dartmouth's use of the 'Indian Symbol') and triumphs in college, and commitment to use education for the good of their peoples. The writers represent a broad diversity in tribal affiliation, gender, age, economic background, and cultural admixture (native and nonnative). Insightful and well written, each contribution provides deep insight into the students' lives as minorities in a mainstream culture."—Choice

"The editors successfully and respectfully present the personal narratives of thirteen Native American students who graduated from Dartmouth College. . . . These courageous narratives directly address issues of internal racism, stereotypes, institutional support, politics of identity, and cultural preservation. . . . Through the students' written reflections, readers can fully appreciate the real experiences, real emotions, and real concerns at the forefront of their experience."—Harvard Educational Review

"A good read. This compilation of stories written by and about Native American graduates from Dartmouth College is honest, heartening, disheartening, brave, and varied. . . . A valuable contribution to the study of culture, identity, and issues within higher education."—Bryan McKinley Brayboy, Anthropology and Education Quarterly

"A telling introduction to the experiences of Native American students within the academy."—Great Plains Quarterly

"This book belongs in the collections of all involved in Indian higher education and should be read by Native high school students and their career and college counselors."—Counterpoise

"Please read this book. I can think of hardly anyone who would not find it immensely inspiring. Since I teach at a school whose Native American program is Dartmouth's chief rival, it sets my teeth on edge a bit to have to say so many nice things about the (always friendly) competition, but these strong essays of Native American success are so terrific I would use any cliché, any hyperbole to convince people to buy and read it. Having lived so many of their experiences myself, I cried in sadness and in joy, and I laughed so hard I cried. Along with adopting it for the large lecture course on Native American experience I teach each year, I plan on also keeping five or ten copies on hand to give to faculty colleagues, administrators, academic advisers, and others who call me when they are sincerely trying to figure out how they can better understand the sometimes special ways Native students experience and interact with our campus. The voices Larimore and Garrod so lovingly offer us in First Person, First Peoples are strong ones and are stunning proof that Native Americans are doing their part in making Native American communities better places to live. Their lives and this book are, literally, part of the solution. Finally (and I say this to temper my frustrated feelings of rivalry), when will the people who really matter at Dartmouth join universities like the one I work for in getting on the right side of the mascot issue?"—Robert Allen Warrior (Osage), Stanford University, and Coauthor, Like a Hurricane: The Indian Movement from Alcatraz to Wounded Knee

"Here we have a poetically written text that speaks to our collective pasts to inform our futures. The chapters touch our hearts and move our intellects to create more inclusive collegiate communities."—William G. Tierney, University of Southern California

Library Journal
Thirteen Native Americans representing a variety of tribal affiliations but all graduates of Dartmouth describe their experiences in and out of college, focusing on how they coped with sometimes-conflicting cultural demands and how they carried on their heritage. Some came from poor homes where alcoholism was common; others had highly educated parents who gave them encouragement and support. For most, however, success did not come easily. The decision to draw on the experiences of Dartmouth graduates only may at first seem self-congratulatory, since all the editors as well as the contributors have the Dartmouth Native American Program in common. Yet the essays are fresh and engaging and of high literary and journalistic quality. A unique perspective on a much-neglected aspect of college life; highly recommended.Arla M. Lindgren, St. John's Univ., Jamaica, N.Y.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801484148
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/1997
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 280
  • Sales rank: 1,099,052
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.93 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Andrew Garrod is Professor Emeritus of Education at Dartmouth College. He is coeditor of Growing Up Muslim: Muslim College Students in America Tell Their Life Stories, First Person, First Peoples: Native American College Graduates Tell Their Life Stories, Balancing Two Worlds: Asian American College Students Tell Their Life Stories, Mi Voz, Mi Vida: Latino College Students Tell Their Life Stories, and Mixed: Multiracial College Students Tell Their Life Stories, all from Cornell.

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Table of Contents

Foreword
Preface
Introduction 1
Refuse to Kneel 23
I Walk in Beauty 43
A Tlingit Brother of Alpha Chi 64
First Morning Light 80
My Grandmother and the Snake 93
I Dance for Me 115
Why Didn't You Teach Me? 136
The Web of Life 154
Coming Home 171
Machiavelli and Me 189
My Grub Box 200
Full Circle 212
The Good Ol' Days When Times Were Bad 230
About the Editors and Foreword Writer 249
Photograph Credits 251
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