New anthology, I Am Where I Come From, released from Cornell University Press
I Am Where I Come From: Native American College Students and Graduates Tell Their Life Stories is a new anthology from Cornell University Press that lets Native students from Dartmouth College tell their stories of studying while indigenous at an ivy league school. Each account is autobiographical of either a current or graduated Native American Dartmouth student. In all, thirteen Native writers took part in the anthology.
The organizing principle for this anthology is the common Native American heritage of its authors; and yet that thread proves to be the most tenuous of all, as the experience of indigeneity differs radically for each of them. While many experience a centripetal pull toward a cohesive Indian experience, the indications throughout these essays lean toward a richer, more illustrative panorama of difference. What tends to bind them together are not cultural practices or spiritual attitudes per se, but rather circumstances that have no exclusive province in Indian country: that is, first and foremost, poverty, and its attendant symptoms of violence, substance abuse, and both physical and mental illness. . . . Education plays a critical role in such lives: many of the authors recall adoring school as young people, as it constituted a place of escape and a rare opportunity to thrive. . . . While many of the writers do return to their tribal communities after graduation, ideas about 'home' become more malleable and complicated."―from the Introduction
Not all the transitions or experiences at Dartmouth were easy for the narrators, but one central theme that shines throughout the book is the bastion of support, community and familiarity that the Native American studies department and the Native American House provided them. As discussed in the preface, these were both initiatives launched under former College President John Kemeny in the 1970s that are cited by multiple alumni in the anthology as a source of support for Native American students at Dartmouth. While Dartmouth was completely new and foreign for many of these students upon their arrival to campus, the fact that they had a community to rely upon often made the transition much easier and provided a home during their time here.