Monsters and Weapons: Navajo Students' Stories on Their Journeys Toward College
AuthorTachine, Amanda R.
Tribal Critical Race Theory
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe purpose of this story rug is to acquire a deeper understanding of 10 Navajo students' experiences as they journey toward college. Utilizing Indigenous theoretical frameworks including Tribal Critical Race Theory, Cultural Resilience, and Cultural Threads, this story rug centered attention on the systematic, structural forces and students' sources of strength that have shaped and continue to influence educational pathways for Navajo students. This story rug was guided by a qualitative mixed-method approach including Indigenous Storywork and narrative analysis. Through the assertion of the Navajo traditional oral story of the Twin Warriors, this story rug weaves in 10 Navajo students' experiences including the sociocultural and personal barriers, referred to as "monsters," that hindered their life and their college enrollment goals, how they internalized those "monsters," and then what were the sources of strength, referred to as "weapons," that guided them in life and toward college. The findings revealed systematic and personal monsters that intertwined within community, school, family, and self. The Financial Hardship Monster illustrated the struggles of poverty and its influence on students' educational aspirations. The Addiction Monster revealed how alcohol and drugs within community and family shaped students' pre-college journey. The Educational Deficit Monster uncovered Reservation schooling challenges that limited students' academic ability and college access. The final and more intimate monster, The Personal Struggles Monster, shed light on private and often unspoken challenges that students faced during a crucial time in the college-choice process. To overcome the monsters, students activated powerful weapons. The first set of weapons, Trusting Relationships and Vulnerability, entailed students' awareness of lessons learned during vulnerable moments and stories shared with mothers, grandmothers, and teachers. The Courage to Challenge Self weapons demonstrated that participation in college readiness opportunities and applying to high-stakes scholarships affirmed confidence that they were college material. The Transforming Obstacles to Positives weapons uncovered students' abilities to transform negative conditions into positive intentions, which motivated them to continue their journeys toward college. The final weapons, Faith in Spiritual Teachings, were spiritual and traditional teachings that reminded students that they were not alone and that they were unstoppable in proceeding toward college. This study underscored how context matters and penetrated in students' lives including systematic poverty, structural forces that fueled addiction, and systematic educational deficit and meritocracy ideologies. These stories have the power to transform discourses of deficiency to those of strength and honor for future Native student warriors and their educational attainment.
Degree ProgramGraduate College