I Don’t Belong Here: Faking It ’Til You Make It

“You don’t belong here.”

“You don’t deserve this.”

“You got lucky.”

“Just fake it ’til you make it”

These are all thoughts that flood the minds of Native American students any given day. They are thoughts that are a product of the largest systematic extermination and oppression of a single people in the history of mankind.

They are the thoughts of someone who, according to history, doesn’t belong here, doesn’t deserve this, did just get lucky, and needs to fake it.

I rebuke it.

I see it/I feel it/I live it anyways.

The discourse regarding Native Americans in higher education is nearly non-existant unless it is through the lens of an outsider who doesn’t understand or a university that is on the Rez. What i’m talking about is away from home. It is uncomfortable and it is unbelievably difficult to endure.

This is the every day experience of a Native student who finds themself away from home and without a body of support, given the average Native American population in degree-granting institutions is less than one percent.

Native American students struggle to get into college more than any other ethnic minority. Roughly nine percent of Native Americans will enroll in college, less than half the national average. Alone and without resources made available to other underrepresented communities, these students often struggle in college and more often than not, drop out.

For those that do manage to complete their degree, it is a long, uphill push the entire way. Unfortunately, graduation often means finding a job outside of their hometown and for many, the thought of return is too painful anyway. Without their presence as an example, the viscious cycle continues.

The reality is that for many Native youth it is impossible to even apply to college, nonetheless get accepted. Larger systems of oppression scar the community and leave many high school students without access to a computer or internet, assuming they knew how to use either.

These harsh realities place a monumental task upon those who hope to make a change. There are several organizations both state and federally funded that are attempting to combat these truths. The current white house administration poses a threat to previously established programs such as the Generation Indigenous Youth Program set in place by the Obama admnistration to help provide Native youth with the resources to apply for college.

Although this post isn’t directly related to my topic, I felt that I needed to express just a few of the things that go through my mind each day. I have been blessed beyond compare to be able to type this post while drinking clean water and in the comfort of my own home where I happen to have internet. These luxuries are not common in many of my people’s communities.

It is difficult to write this post regarding higher education when there are still so many terrible statistics regarding poverty, alcoholism, suicide, and others. I have included a few of these statistics in order to paint a picture of what this community experiences every day.