A successful program to introduce Native American students to college life recently received year-round funding.
Then it was cancelled this summer for lack of interest.
STRIVE (Summer Training to Revive Indigenous Vision and Empowerment) is a summer program for Native American high school students designed to build relationships and long-term college mentorship through outdoor activities and guest speaking events hosted at COCC. STRIVE began four years ago, and had just received year-round funding when it was cancelled during the summer 2016 due to lack of interest.
“We’re re-vamping a lot of what we’re doing with the high schools, so I am really confident that next year we’ll bring it back bigger and better,” said Gina Ricketts, advisor of the First Nation Student Union (FNSU) club and coordinator of Central Oregon Community College and Oregon state University – Cascades Native student programs.This “re-vamping” includes bridging students of “The Good Road” high school programs at Redmond and Madras High Schools with the STRIVE program.
The FNSU club at COCC has given presentations to the Madras City Council and has sent a letter to the Bend Bulletin advocating for Indigenous Day in lieu of Columbus Day. They plan to present to the Redmond City Council later this month.
Indigenous Day would take the place of the national holiday that started in the 1970’s and instead be a day to honor indigenous people. This movement of Indigenous Day in favor of Columbus Day has swept across the country and its supporters continue to grow each year.
“I see cities and states changing [Columbus Day],” Ricketts said. “The huge step would be for the Federal Government to change it.”
This is one of many goals the FNSU students hope to help bring to life. Ricketts said that the students in the FNSU club and participants in STRIVE hope to spread awareness and education about Native people and America’s history.
“It’s not just my history; it’s our shared history that we need to understand better.” Ricketts said.
Lily Greenstone | The Broadside