Sunny Zhou: The Struggle for Voice in Native Americans and Tibetan Communities

Posted on 21/03/2011

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Probably what the trip shocked me the most is encountering the difficulty the Native Americans are experiencing with their identities and place in the government. Brendon, the first Native American female to have completed 12th grade in her generation, said that they are not even nationally recognized. Additionally, people are being looked down, treated unfairly because of their racial identities, in the educational system, political system. Situations still occur where a local barber refuses to give a haircut to a Native American. Also, we are told that the highest education that Native Americans can achieve, in the state of Louisiana, is 7th grade.

Although the Gulf area is the region that most Native American lives, however the land property is under oil companies and the local Native Americans have no control or access to the land. Through listening to people’s stories, experiences, conflicted feelings and struggle to fight for their own All of these problems and challenges that Native Americans have to face today, should be concerned as a national issue. The reasons are more than their racial identity. They are about the game of politics, major power party, and the money. Therefore, I wonder what if the younger generation of Native American start to explore more opportunities for their education outside of state, be more involved in the government institutions, spread the voice of Native Americans’ problems and struggle today, would it solve the problem? However, the people today are experiencing the conflict between progressive political movement and their sentiment to the land and the local community. Jamie, the owner of the Dulac Community Center, informed us that most young generations are not willing to go to colleges out of the state, but rather staying in their comfort zone. It is a culture, a tradition, a spirit that help Native American communities survive and grow over the years.

As a result, it is very difficult for young adults to even think about going to a college where they have no connection with at all. The best what we can do, is to spread the word in our own areas to raise people’s awareness about the Native American’s issues, but also keep a constant flow of volunteers to visit them every year. In this way, we not only get to know and learn about their culture and tradition, but also our diversity help open their eyes and mind of a big world different from theirs. During the group reflection, somehow I came up with a wild idea that perhaps, there would be a group of intellectual leaders of Native Americans, who will speak up and fight for their voice and land, just as Dalai Lama gain support and resources from countries for Tibet’s conflict with Chinese central government. It is an interesting comparison, but it is indeed time to take actions to fight for the Native Americans’ voice and land.

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