As universities across the country are becoming more diverse, responding to the impacts that assumptions about others have on the way we interact with colleagues, research participants, and communities is crucial for all scholars. In particular, the politics of identity, both actual and perceived, for Indigenous scholars in the Western Hemisphere are uniquely complex. Through a review of the relevant literature, I describe influences on scholar identity formation, and discuss individual impacts of working within campus climates while experiencing microaggression. Utilizing Indigenous voices as the focal data, I explore the experience of scholars in post-secondary institutions in the United States in relation to historical factors that have determined Indigeneity by colonial and racist measures. This was a mixed-methods study, utilizing an online survey and oral history interviews to explore the multiple interactions between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples pertinent to academic scholars who are not federally recognized yet still identify themselves as Indigenous. Demographic characteristics and relevant experiences of Indigenous scholars in tertiary institutions throughout the United States are described. Obstacles to scholar confidence and support systems were identified within families, communities, and institutions. Participating scholars’ experiences ranged from being comfortable with the difference between themselves and their colleagues to reports of ignorant remarks, conflicts between those with Recognized and non-Recognized statuses, and work environments where Indigenous selves were masked to the point of not existing beyond the assumptions of others based on skin color. This preliminary work is the first project of its kind and provides groundwork for further exploration about the marginalization of Indigenous scholars in postsecondary institutions and the impact of disparate experiences on unrecognized Indigenous scholars in a variety of academic fields.
|Keywords:||First Nations, Indigenous Peoples, Identity, Multiple Methods Research, Colleges, Universities|
Arizona State University, Arizona, USA