Throughout the month of November the University of Southern Maine will be honoring and highlighting Native voices within our community. Students, faculty, staff, and alumni will be sharing their heritage and their story.
Name: Jackie Crow Shoe / Kkiitoos aakii
Position/Connection with USM
Policy Associate II. Co-PI to the Capacity Building Center for Tribes
What band or tribe are you affiliated with and at what age did you become aware of your Native Heritage?
Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa
How has maintaining your Native heritage enriched your life?
It is my life. I am extremely grateful that my parents recognized how to walk in both worlds without giving up who we are to the colonized world. Starting from my name everything I do comes from my Spirit. My traditional values, beliefs and knowledge allow me to stay strong in my Indigenous voice.
Are you involved with your community? How do you stay active within your community?
I am the community. My entire career has been in our community or for my community. Our jobs, ceremonies, gatherings are an everyday part of my life. Now with covid-19, some things have been more difficult, but my Spirit and prayers are always with me. Social media has helped to stay connected.
Specifically at USM, what was positive and what do you think could be improved to make Native experience better (student or employee)?
I enjoyed the time we met with President Cummings a few years back. We shared, in a circle, our thoughts and concerns. I am also participating in a Decolonizing group. I have appreciated listening to speakers from our Indigenous Community and the effort in examining some inequities in the systems we work for. There is always room for improvement. We must hire more Native staff, create a more thorough understanding of the Indigenous lens. We have a unique lens that comes with the knowledge of being from a sovereign nation with inherent rights, rights very different from other populations of color. Derived from our political, economic and social structures and from our cultures, spiritual traditions, histories and philosophies, especially rights to our lands, territories and resources (United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People).
Are there any resources you would like to share for people who would like to learn more?
There are so many books, whether it be on history from the Indigenous lens, or both fiction and not fictions books, published writings/documents, foods, literature, story tellers, singers, artists. I would not know where to begin. Maybe start with Native authors so we know the information is authentically told. Louise Erdrich’s novels, Walter Echo-Hawk’s book In the Light of Justice, Robin Wall Kimmerer’s book Braiding Sweetgrass. Podcasts like This Land by Crooked Media are only a few that come immediately to mind, but there are so many.