Name: Sarah Grinder
Position/Connection with USM:
Lecturer in the Occupational Therapy Department, and USM MOT alum
What band or tribe are you affiliated with and at what age did you become aware of your Native Heritage?
I am a member of the Nimiipuu (Nez Perce) Tribe whose have traditionally lived on lands in north-central Idaho and the surrounding areas. I also have heritage from the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, who are fighting for federal recognition to this day. I have known of my heritage since I can remember.
How has maintaining your Native heritage enriched your life?
In ways I probably cannot fully express!
Are you involved with your community? How do you stay active within your community?
This is a complex question for many Native people, including me! Land and cultural displacement resulting from hundreds of years of colonization and harmful U.S. policies has disrupted my family's connection to our community over the generations. My parents and I grew up away from daily access to our culture, land, and language. I am thankful for my Native and non-Native family members who have worked and are working toward renewing our family's connections to my community and to other Native peoples and their work. I am also thankful that virtual technologies allow me to keep updated on Tribal events, issues, and life from across the country. To any student or employee who feels like me, I want to say, "You are still Native!"
Specifically at USM, what was positive and what do you think could be improved to make Native experience better (student or employee)?
As a student, I was extremely grateful for the Native student coordinator. Taking classes at LAC, however, meant I was often not able to be involved in Native events through USM. That geographical challenge remains for me as an instructor at LAC.
As a faculty member, I am grateful for those within the USM community who are working as allies for Native people and their work in the best ways. I would love for more people in our community to learn about and share responsibility for this work.
Are there any resources you would like to share for people who would like to learn more?
I am not an expert! However, a well-crafted story or first-hand experience often inspires me to investigate issues more deeply. A couple of good stories by Native creators include The Firekeeper's Daughter by Angeline Booley (fiction) and This Land by Crooked Media (nonfiction podcast).