By Maxine Alex, Sara Marie Ortiz and Tanya Powers
In her August 2015 Child Watch column, Children’s Defense Fund President Marian Wright Edelman wrote, “It’s hard to be what you can’t see.”
Her column was addressing the lack of diversity in children’s books. But the statement itself, “It’s hard to be what you can’t see,” is a powerful reminder that children from a wide variety of cultures, races and experiences need to have access to role models – from the famous faces in history textbooks to the teachers in front of the classrooms – who are as diverse as they are.
In its second year, Highline College is preparing to host its second Native Student Success Summit on May 17 to do just that.
The vision of the planning group for the Native Student Success Summit was to create a place where Native students could connect with their communities, and embrace their identities and culture.
“Giving students access to Native role models is one premise of the Native Student Success Summit,” Maxine Alex, director of Native education for Federal Way Public Schools said. “We want to give Alaska Native and American Indian students the chance to connect with local leaders, other Native students, and envision a future for themselves that is meaningful to themselves and their community. It is important to point that out, as these students normally do not receive direct services from their tribes. These urban Native students often find it hard to connect and see themselves or their issues in mainstream society.”
Identity for Native people in urban areas is complex. …
This article was originally published in the print edition of the Federal Way Mirror on May 5, 2017.
About the Authors
Sara Marie Ortiz, MFA, (Pueblo of Acoma) is an educator, writer, advocate and community organizer with more than 16 years of experience and expertise in the realm of Native arts, writing, culture, education, advocacy and community and youth development. She is a graduate of the Institute of American Indian Arts (BFA) and Antioch University Los Angeles (MFA). She currently serves as the Native Student Success Program Manager for Highline Public Schools in Burien.
Tanya Powers is St. Lawrence Island Yupik and Irish. She received her bachelor and master’s degrees in public administration from Seattle University. She is the Director of Workforce and Baccalaureate Education at Highline College. When she is not at work, you can often find her spending time with family (including three dogs) and cheering on her two strong daughters with their accomplishments. She likes watch her youngest daughter play junior roller derby.
About Highline Voices
Highline Voices brings a range of diverse perspectives to our community, featuring the expertise of Highline College staff and faculty. Read other articles in the Highline Voices series that began in 2016. All Highline employees are welcome to contribute to the series. Email Tanya Powers or Kari Coglon Cantey for guidelines.