Reflections - UMD Students

James Clark is a UMD history major and a descendant of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.

James Clark

Anishinaabe, Ojibwe, Indigenous, Native, Indian. What do these words make you think of? Do you think of people of the past who are not around anymore? Maybe people with feathers who fought cowboys in the wild west. I am here to tell you that Native Americans are here, and we are here to stay. I was able to see first hand at the capitol of this nation and that we are there and this is only the beginning!

Mark Pero

The visit to the U.S. Capitol made me think about some of the lessons I am learning in the UMD Master of Tribal Resource and Environmental Stewardship program. These legislators are making decisions about federal land that has great environmental impact. They rely heavily on Eurocentric science. We need to consider Indigenous knowledge and our connections to the natural world. Now with four Native legislators, there’s hope things could shift.

Mark Pero lives in Duluth, Minn. and is in the UMD Master of Tribal Resource and Environmental Stewardship program. He is a member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

Natalie Swanson is a UMD social work major. She is from Duluth, Minn. and a descendant of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

Natalie Swanson

While it was neat to be submerged in a city so rich in history, it was apparent that a very single-minded, specific narrative was being told. We talk about how beautiful the buildings are and how founding fathers like Washington just decided where to put the capitol building, but we forget that African American slaves were forced to build these structures and that the land they were built on belonged to Indigenous people. As frustrating as this was, it gave me hope and relief to 1) witness fellow Native Americans in our group advocate for themselves about the narratives shared in popular areas like the capitol tours, and 2) meet the very first Native American congresswomen who assured us that they would not be the last!

Jasmine Landry

I presented honor coins to several veterans while at Arlington National Cemetery. Rick Smith from the UMD American Indian Learning Resource Center encouraged us to give the commorative coins to veterans to recognize the people who keep the peace, guard the nation from danger, and risk their lives. I was nervous at first, but then I felt happiness and pride. When I presented challenge coins to three veterans, one of them told me it meant a lot to him to be honored. Being able to thank veterans for their sacrifices was important and I'll be forever grateful to Rick for encouraging me.”

Jasmine Landry is studying in the UMD Labovitz School of Business and Economics. She is a member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

Meaghan O'Connor is from Duluth, Minn. She is a UMD communication science and disorders major and a descendant of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

Meaghan O’Connor

I stood on the same ground where my great-great grandmother, Catherine Lemieux, stood in 1914 at the Carlisle Industrial Indian Boarding School in Pennsylvania. I think of her as a teenager, sent away from her home and family at Fond du Lac, Minn., "traveling on a train for days.” It was the nation’s first Indian Boarding School and it would be the model for 45 more in the country. The whole idea of boarding schools is terribly sad because its purpose was assimilation. Here lived almost 10,000 Native American children from more than 140 tribes between 1879 and 1918. Overall, far less than 200 children graduated.

Autumn Smith

We met Betty McCollum, a Minnesotan Congresswoman. We also met the first Native American congresswomen, Deb Haaland from New Mexico and Sharice Davids, from Kansas. They were super inspirational and made us cry. I'm so proud to see Native women sitting on the hill and representing Native people. Their offices weren't even decorated because they just moved in. It was so cool!!

Autumn Smith is a UMD psychology major and a member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

Emily Ley is from Farmington, Minn. She is a UMD social work major.

Emily Ley

One of the most memorable experiences that I had the privilege to be a part of was meeting with Congresswomen Deb Haaland and Sharice Davids. Last fall, we all had no idea that the first two Native American women in history would be elected to the United States Congress. In our classes, we learned how important representation is and about the need for people of all races, creeds and backgrounds to be visible so their voices are louder and more powerful. As someone who is not Native American, it is one thing to be an ally; but to see Native American women representing their people and their states for the first time in history in Congress, for Indigenous people see people who look like THEM in a position of power and influence, brought tears to many of the eyes in the room.

Grace Thurnau

Wow! We had a special opportunity to meet the very first Native congresswomen, Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland! Being in their offices, we couldn’t help but share smiles and tears. The oppression that is faced by many in the Native community has also been experienced by these two women. Seeing them rise and fight for their tribes and all those in Native country is so powerful. I can’t wait to see how they are able to make change and be a voice that has needed to be heard for so long. Although I am not Native, I couldn’t have felt more proud and empowered to continue to be an ally to Native communities, especially as a social worker.

Grace Thurnau is from Owatonna, Minn. She is a UMD social work major.

Morgan McCollow is from Bloomington, Minn. She is a UMD social work major with a minor in psychology.

Morgan McCollow

Before entering the Holocaust Museum, I saw a sign that said, “Think about what you saw” and it started to get me anxious about what I would see. I knew it was going to emotional but I didn’t know how real it would feel. We received identification cards that stated our names, stories, and if we survived. I was a 23-year-old girl that did survive. She was the only person in her family that she knows survived. I kept her in the back of my mind, trying to picture what it would of been like to live through the period of time. I do not think I will ever forget the room full of shoes. The smell of that room had an instant impact on me. In that room laid thousands on thousands of shoes, all belonging to people trying to survive.

Lindsay Loehlein

Walking through the U.S Holocaust Memorial Museum was overwhelming. I saw pictures, quotes and read stories that will forever be ingrained in my mind. I stood and looked at a wall with numerous pictures of Holocaust survivors with their arms reaching out displaying the identification number tattooed on their arms. Above these pictures was a quote by Primo Levi, a Holocaust survivor, that read “My number is 174517, we have been baptized, we will carry the tattoo on our left arm until we die.” Survivors of the Holocaust and their families will never forget, and neither will I.

Lindsay Loehlein is from Moose Lake, Minn. She is a UMD social work major.

Abbigale Arends is from Sauk Center, Minn. She is a UMD social work major.

Abby Arends

There are now more than 100 congresswomen in the House of Representatives, more than ever before. We had the opportunity to meet three of them. It was great to see history being made.

Gracelynn Otis is a student at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. She is studying Kinesiology.

Gracelynn share this statement ...

Speakers of Anishinaabemowin never had to be told, "Respect women, respect elders, or respect children," because it is fundamental and built into the language itself. Ike or the word for woman is connected to Aki-earth. Both are life givers. The word for 'old woman,' mindimooyehn actually breaks down to "one that holds it all together." The foundation of a family. Old man - Akiwensii - literally means "earth caretaker." The word for Elder - Gichi ayaa'aa- means great being. Our word for child - abinoojii - describes a spirit that was specifically placed here. The values are built into the language, and it is beautiful