- Beyond Access: Indigenizing Programs for Native American Student Success ed. by Stephanie J. Waterman, Shelly C. Lowe and Heather J. Shotton
Stephanie J. Waterman, Shelly C. Lowe, and Heather J. Shotton (Editors)
Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing, 2018, 179 pages, $35.00 (soft cover)
Rejecting, reclaiming, and redefining one’s existence—in the face of a constant barrage of negative connotations, cultural objectifications, and community assaults on Native American people and traditions—constitute a bold rebuke and a revolutionary pathway to transforming institutional practices that restrain the experiences of Indigenous students. Stephanie J. Waterman, Shelly C. Lowe, and Heather J. Shotton expertly mine treasures of the “where I am from” narrative, make meaning of it, and translate it into wise offerings of practices to help students, administrators, and institutions go beyond access and into creating supportive environments for the success of Native American students and communities. The editors and authors unapologetically speak from the lens of their own experiences and truths. The contributors forthrightly seek to foster dialogue in more productive ways that retain the agency of Indigenous members of the higher education community and advances cultural restoration, which is key to the ongoing aims of nation building. Nation building is a broad movement toward sustainable community development, self-governance, and self-determination for tribal nations; inherent in this is a recognition that Indigenous peoples have sovereignty, agency, and political identities (Brayboy, Fann, Castagno, & Solyom, 2012).
By applying knowledge that informs college access, the contributors are ultimately offering strategies for cultural revitalization and sustainability for Native American communities. It is exceptionally honorable to resist being defined through a narrow lens resulting from colonization and a dominant cultural view, particularly in the face of a sociopolitical climate that fixates on dehumanizing and targeting those with marginalized identities. Through both the what and how, the authors guide readers to lean into their long-held traditions and apply the wisdom of their communities to advise on ways to transform higher education for Native students. This volume embodies critical theoretical frameworks and takes an affirming approach that combines traditions of storytelling with programmatic and policy exemplars for supporting Native student success. Following traditions, the editors begin the book with an opening Blessing and end with closing words of gratitude. In doing so, they make good on their desire to contribute to the project of nation building “by privileging ‘indigenous knowledge, culture and values’” (p. 10).
Waterman, Lowe, and Shotton note in the introduction that the deficit stereotype of Native cultures is still pervasive. Their aim is to highlight Indigenized programs and practices, or “programs developed by, not just for, the Indigenous community. Indigenized programs value approaches that privilege Indigenous values, knowledge, and perspectives” (p. 2). Rather than simply viewing education as a pathway for economic success, the contributors identify effective approaches for Indigenous communities that are crucial to cultural sustainability and tribal nation building. [End Page 257] They acknowledge through real-life stories the incongruity between the Eurocentric roots of American higher education and the deep sense of reciprocity that Native students feel to return home and share what they have learned. The authors make a strong case that access to higher education is about more than getting in the door. This conversation needs to expand to the particulars of what matters in the journey from precollege programs to entrance into postsecondary education, through experiences as well as opportunity while on campus, and even into supports that guide students as they go beyond graduation.
Interspersed between these chapters are personal narratives from Native American graduate students. These stories provide an authentic connection to many of the themes and programs discussed in the chapters and reinforce the editors’ message in the conclusion: “Indigenous worldviews and role models are foundational to these programs. They are neither add-ons nor an avenue to increase diversity, nor are they generic support programs tweaked for an Indigenous population” (p. 152). Other scholars have similarly called for the use of anti-deficit achievement frameworks (e.g., Conrad & Gasman, 2015; Harper, 2012).
Each chapter provides depth and breadth to understanding the experiences of Native American...