Music, Writing & Creative Arts
"The Cutting Edge of Social Change"
David Crosby, Becca Stevens, Michelle Willis and Michael League
are The Lighthouse Band, and together they harmonized the heck
out of the Tiny Desk.
Part honor student, part ranch kid, equal parts indigenous activist and powwow and homecoming royalty, Connie Brownotter of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation is a campus leader who is changing the narrative about American Indian students at MSU.
Mountains and Minds Magazine DECEMBER 21, 2018
I grew up on my family’s buffalo ranch in Bullhead, South Dakota, on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. I’m Hunkpapa Lakota and Diné (Navajo). I’m a junior majoring in Human Development and Family Science and minoring in Native American Studies.
Academics. I put so much work and passion into what I do. I’m a Gates Millennium Scholar, an MSU Presidential Emerging Scholar, an executive member of the American Indian Council, an Honors College student and I was a member of Phi Upsilon Omicron honors society. Academic success makes me happy and is one of my top priorities.
I want to be a role model. I want to reflect the success of the indigenous community at MSU and show that a Native woman can succeed. I want to bring awareness to the MSU campus community that indigenous people are still here, we’re proud of our cultural identities and we’re doing amazing things.
A lot of Native American students struggle when they come to campus because they feel like they don’t fit in. I believe that you can change and grow when you step out of your comfort zone. However, many Native students step out of their comfort zones just by coming to school at MSU. In order to help them succeed here, I like to bring them (younger Native students) into the circle and invite them to join our community. We have to create an environment where they will feel supported. I want other Native students to think, “If she can succeed, I can, too.”
I am proud of the Native presence here (at MSU). I want to put that out there. There are strong Native students on MSU’s campus. We are a beautiful people doing big things.
I am, at heart, a shy person. It took years and years for me to learn how to be confident and reach out to others. Adversity, for me, helps me improve. Usually, I’m the only brown student in my classes, but I try not to let that affect me in a negative way. I take challenging moments like that and try to look at them in a way that will allow me to use my unique perspective to my advantage. In short, I gain my confidence from my Native identity.
My family. My whole, entire family is high-achieving, successful and hardworking, yet so humble, kind and supportive. They constantly motivate and support me. And I have had help. So much help. When I was a junior in high school my science teacher encouraged me to apply to a preparatory school called Phillips Academy Andover near Boston. I don’t know if I would have gone without her support. She encouraged me and believed that I could do it, so I did.
Because the possibilities with that degree are endless. Higher education, to me, is what will help future indigenous leaders make a lasting difference in their communities. Education will help us gain the knowledge and the tools to make a positive impact in our tribes. The combination of culture and higher education is powerful.
As for myself, I have changed my major seven times to find out what really interests me. I love education and I plan to get my master’s degree and doctoral degree. I could see myself as a professor at a tribal college or working on my family’s ranch or being involved in tribal politics. I’m not sure yet. I can see myself in a lot of areas. One thing is for sure, I’ll be working with my people on Standing Rock.
I was selected to be a finalist for homecoming ambassador this year. At the interview, I had to sing the MSU fight song in front of a large panel of judges. That sort of thing really pushes me out of my comfort zone, but I did it. I am going to be out there on the football field in my Native regalia. It is time for indigenous people to reclaim their pride in their identities and their culture. I hope to embody that.
Yes, which is another form of leadership. With this title, I travel and represent MSU and the American Indian Council at powwows and events throughout the nation. This title gives me the opportunity to serve as a goodwill ambassador for indigenous people as well as to be a positive role model for indigenous women everywhere.
I danced since I was a little girl, but I stopped dancing at powwows when I literally outgrew my moccasins and didn’t get a new pair. I love powwows, and when I came to college, I decided I would make my own regalia. Some people don’t realize how much time and money goes into making regalia. I ended up teaching myself how to make my own jingle dresses. I hope that by doing this, I can encourage Native people everywhere to learn traditional art forms in order to keep our traditions and culture going.
Continuing to be a leader. I see myself going home to do work with my tribe and community, to make a difference. I don’t know if it will be in politics, maybe, or education. But it will be about leadership for me and my people. And, I know I will succeed through hard work, courage, ambition, and culture. •
This article was originally published in Mountains & Minds Magazine, Fall 2018.
It is time for a Green New Deal to revitalize the nation and invest in a sustainable future.
If you can afford even a dollar or two, this will help us fight the corporate elite and
finally we can have a real chance for peace, justice and freedom on the ballot.
The Portland Alliance Archives Newspaper Production offices are located at 2228 West Kent Avenue Missoula, Montana 59801...
at The International Peace Resource Center Library in Missoula, Montana.
The library has between 12 and 15 thousand volumes. Our most recent addition will include the S. Brian Wilson Annex, a collection
of articles, essays, photographs, magazines, films and critical research on Peace and Peace Activism in America.
We need help framing out the back porch. We are building a two story structure 21 foot tall, 12 foot deep and 24 foot wide. This library
expansion will include indexing, filing, building shelves, installing shelves and more...
This nonprofit public library contains the archives for The Portland Alliance Newspaper, NAAME, Inc., and The Wordsmith Collection.
Both are 501C3 nonprofits. The library also includes archives for S. Brian Willson, RevolutionResource.org, ThePeaceresource.com, ThePortlandAlliance.org and other research and education resources.
We intend to complete the Library Annex expansion by the end of September and begin working on opening the upstairs
addition of the Portland Alliance Archives by Spring of 2000. When these resources are complete, our longer term plans are to
add a separate (barn-like) building, with access from the alley, for art shows, poetry readings, exhibitions and more...
University of Montana at Missoula students can arrange work-study at The International Peace Resource Center Library
and work with globally published blogs and a working online newspaper which was in print from 1981-2011.
Anthropology Art, School of Business School Communication Studies Computer Science