by Isaac Lorton
Well first and foremost, the food was the most important thing on the trip. It was delicious. It spoke to me and was very inspiring to me as I move forward in my life and future career. I now know where I will be taking my business trips.
On a more serious note, I did not make many connections, but the few I did will be helpful to NASAND, myself, and Notre Dame as a whole. One of the connections made was a former NASAND president Lakota Mowrer. She was at NCORE with the Teach for America group as a former teacher and facilitator with the organization. Teach for America presented its American Indian initiative and how they are attempting to recruit Native students to teach in areas densely populated by Native students, like New Mexico, South Dakota, Hawaii and Oklahoma. The Peace Corps was supposed to come and talk to NASAND this year, but it fell through twice; so one possibility, would be to have someone from the Teach for America’s Native Achievement Initiative come in and speak to NASAND. As for MSPS, most groups under MSPS are socially conscious, but often times the plight of the modern Native American goes unnoticed. It would be a good idea to have Teach for America come in and speak about the Native Achievement Initiative to all groups because many people do consider teaching after college for groups like Teach for America or Americorps and are socially aware.
Another connection I made was to Ariel Luckey. He is a hip hop theatre artist, director, poet, scholar, and organizational consultant whose works have an aim for social change. He performed part of his work “Freeland” which highlights his unknown connection to U.S. and Native American relations in history. Other than “Freeland,” Luckey also does work about other social issues, including immigration. For NASAND it would be interesting to do a possible event with Luckey some time throughout the year, possibly during the big Spring Visitation weekend. It would incorporate modern music with Native American issues. Since we are such a small group, we could possibly team up with some acting/dancing troupe at Notre Dame to put on a show. That way we are getting our message across in an entertaining way and getting other groups involved. Right now, NASAND does not have a huge event which is able to draw all of the prospects or students in, so it would be cool if we had a larger event that weekend. I think it would also be an idea if MSPS contacted Luckey to help with the big events like Latin Expressions.
In a similar vein to Luckey, I heard the talk “Contemporary Native Music and Identity” by Alan Lechusza Aquallo, PhD. His works are more scholarly, he wrote his dissertation on Native Americans in the Hip Hop industry. His presentation highlighted some of his findings and research from his work “Without reservations: Native Hip Hop and identity in the music of W.O.R. (With Out Rezervation).” I was unable to make a connection with him, but he would be a great person to invite to speak. His talk was both scholarly and entertaining. It was engaging, interesting, and involved hip hop and rap music – how can you go wrong with that? Again, NASAND could benefit from having a speaker like him come to campus, team up with us, and give a presentation as one of the talks during Native American History Month in November. It would be beneficial for NASAND, MSPS, students in the American Studies program, and Notre Dame as a whole.
The best talk I heard at the conference and possibly ever in my life, was given by Candy Chang. She is a community developer and has done projects in numerous cities all around the world. She is a TED senior fellow, whose works aim at bringing communities closer together by establishing common grounds and interests. Some of her work was inspiring and helpful for my internship this summer at Experience Baseball, an urban community development organization in cities home to baseball. I just hope some of my work will be even half as good as hers. She would be a great person to bring in and speak not only to MSPS but to Notre Dame as a whole. On a larger picture, as Notre Dame continues to reach out to the South Bend community and work with them to create a better relationship, I think Chang would be a great asset to have in the process. There is definitely a divide between the Notre Dame’s “bubble” on campus and the immediate surrounding community. It is my understanding that Notre Dame and South Bend have been working towards a more “college-town feel.” Why not bring in someone, like Chang, who has a vast amount of experience and still a modern perspective on community development. Even on campus, I think Chang could help establish a gathering place for everyone to feel welcome. I was sadly unable to meet with Chang, but I am pretty sure Ally met with her.
Overall, my experience at NCORE was extremely beneficial. I was able to relate with the Native representatives there during the preconference sessions. NASAND and I am pretty sure MSPS and the school shared similar concerns involving Native students in higher education with other colleges. There was a lot of administrative stuff that was talked about which went over my head, but it makes me feel like Notre Dame needs to get Laurie Arnold, or someone like her, back.