Dear Madison Area Native Students,

Natives in an urban area, also known as Urban Natives, can have its ups and downs. It can mean life is fun, exciting and there are always things to do, people to visit and places to be, but sometimes it can be challenging, especially when you feel as if you are the only Native in your school. This is why each high school has an opportunity to participate in the Native American Student Association (NASA) and each school has an advisor.  If you do not know who it is, contact your school counselor.  Having that support is critical and this can serve as a valuable volunteer opportunity for you. Each NASA may also plan fun events, such as field trips and community service projects. This year we started an All School NASA meeting and focused on College Readiness.  Look for future meetings and opportunities to make a difference.  The United National Indian Tribal Youth (UNITY.Inc) provides leadership skills and opportunities for peer mentoring, if a NASA student would like to join.  

Another opportunity to get in touch with your Native culture is Culture Classes, which are usually held twice a year for six weeks and you can learn how to do beadwork, leather work, sewing applique and ribbon shirts, weaving and more. Maintaining the Native culture relies on oral tradition, which means passing stories down from one generation to the next, so one day, it will be your turn to pass stories down and now is the time to listen and learn.  Here is an animated example of the Hopi Origin Story.  Always remember to honor the sacred stories by heeding any tribal customs attached, for example, the Ho-Chunk can only tell origin stories when the snow is on the ground.  If you know someone willing to be a storyteller, contact Tara Tindall at tltindall@madison.wi.us.

If you are concerned about the environment, water for example, or thinking of a career in the Math or Science field, a great opportunity to get involved is the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) which meets monthly, usually the third Sunday, in the afternoon.  An end of the year field trip will be planned but AISES can only exist with your participation.  "The American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) is a national, nonprofit organization focused on substantially increasing the respresentation of American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, First Nations and other indigenous people of North America in science, technology engineering and math (STEM) studies and career." 

If you are planning to attend college, community involvement is crucial, as is writing your admission letter, which can help you earn scholarships to ease the transition and financial strain.  

Here are a few resources which can always be added to:

American Indian College Fund

American Indian Graduate Fund

Native American and Tribal Grants

Fastweb Search