Opinion: Back to school (being Indigenous)
- Alyson Bear | October 09, 2017
Here I am again another school year has arrived, except this year I am starting Law School. Every year it seems there is always something dysfunctional going on in my personal life that makes it hard to focus and concentrate on school. That is just it, school has been my outlet, my focus when things are too chaotic in my personal life. I find some peace in focusing on my school work and reward when my hard work pays off and I receive good grades.
Education is the key to many doors in this world. Now that I have gone on to post-secondary to further my education, I definitely understand a lot more about the world/society and the history of my own people. It is really sad how little I did know about my own people before I started post-secondary. Education does not only help you discover the world we live in but it also helps you discover who you are and the place in this world that you fit in. If you have a passion for helping people, through writing, being a nurse, a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher, a social worker, whatever it is that drives you to do better and be better, do that.
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First day of post-secondary for me, I registered late and had no clue what to take or what I was getting myself into. I enrolled in everything Indigenous studies and my first textbook, Visions of the Heart, changed my life. One of the first names and scholars in this book was Patricia Monture. She was an advocate, an Indigenous Mohawk lawyer with a strong voice for our Indigenous peoples. She was also my friends mother who have both passed on now, and this is another reason why I hold such passion in my heart for what I am trying to do.
I was then able to gear all my classes towards Indigenous issues and research work Monture had done and the more I researched the more inspired I became. No matter what class it was I was able to relate it to my own lived experience and all that I have been through and have witnessed friends and family go through. This lived experience mixed with learned knowledge through reading books and scholarly articles set off light bulb after light bulb in my brain and learning became addicting.
I later became a mother during my post-secondary education and being a mother and student is not easy but it is not impossible. After I became a mother I gave up all my old ways and I have never looked back. I am now four + years sober and starting law school at my dream school. It is a surreal feeling, but I would of never of got here without my daughters who changed my world. I choose sobriety and choosing to only try my best to not pass a life of dysfunction onto them.
I am determined to keep learning and growing. My next goal once I survive law school is to take the time to learn my Dakota language and do my best to pass it onto my children. Just as a degree takes many years and a lot of hard work and dedication so does revitalizing Indigenous language, culture, oral history and ways. There is very little time for that in a world that makes it a struggle just to survive in. The reality is that our mother earth needs us to wake up. We have the power to create change as long as enough people tap into their potential and true selves and become the change they want to see in this world. Nothing is easy and nothing comes easy but I believe in our people, and my ancestors did not die for nothing.
It is up to us now to pick up those books and learn all that we can in hope that we can leave our children with something money cannot buy, a world that is not dead just because of the greed of the way a capitalistic society world runs now. The only way to fight back is to just do your best to be a good person while you are here, guests on mother earth because it is her who breathes life and sustains all.