This November, the Associated Students celebrated Native American Heritage Month! 🎉
Native American Heritage Month honors the diverse cultures and traditions of Indigenous peoples. It is a time to pay tribute to the histories of Native American tribes and acknowledge all the important contributions that they have made to our world.
One of these contributions is Chico State’s use of traditional Mechoopda land. Without their land and the tribe’s continued support, we would not have access to our campus and the education it provides. Chico State and the Mechoopda tribe collaborate and consult with each other in making influential decisions in order to best meet both groups’ interests, and we acknowledge the importance of their presence.
“We acknowledge and are mindful that Chico State stands on lands that were originally occupied by the first people of this area, the Mechoopda, and we recognize their distinctive spiritual relationship with this land and the waters that run through campus. We are humbled that our campus resides upon sacred lands that once sustained the Mechoopda people for centuries.”
Throughout the month of November, we’ve highlighted several Indigenous and Tribal students to share their voicesand experiences as students of Chico State. Read their stories below:
Tatiana Ybarra is a senior studying Criminal Justice and American Indian Studies. Tatiana grew up on the Western Temoak Shoshone Reservation in Elko, Nevada and identifies as Western Temoak Shoshone, Navajo, and Mescalaro Apache. Through her time at ChicoState, Tatiana has followed her traditional teachings, which has been difficult at times as the descendant of a boarding school survivor. Her grandmother’s resilience helps drive her to finish her studies and return to the reservation to help disparities within her community. She hopes to fight for missing and murdered tribal people, such as Desmond Phillips. His death helped spark her interest in community policing and higher education police agencies. “Every day I walk through campus halls, I carry my ancestors with me. I am their wildest dreams.” Tatiana wears a red shawl “to signify as a woman spirit, wife and mother, I carry my family and responsibilities on my shoulders. The red hand signifies the injustices that tribal people face, as I'm calling on our ancestors who have crossed over to give me strength when I feel like I have nothing left in me."
Reid Althaus is Kumeyaay and a tribal member from the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel. A San Diego resident, Reid plans on using his Multicultural Gender studies major and American Indian Studies minor to pursue a career in Social Workpost-grad. As a first-generation college student, Reid is accomplishing this degree not only for himself but his family and ancestors who did not have the same privilege to pursue an education. He works to remind people of the history of the land they reside on and about the original peoples. “Most people live on stolen land, and they do not even know.”Through his time at Chico State, Reid has made strides to bring more awareness to tribal lands and heritage through his involvement on campus. “I am my ancestors’ wildest dreams.”
Tsewiniche "Niche" Van Pelt is a sophomore from McKinleyville, CA. Tsewiniche is a Child Development major with a minor in American Indian Studies, who identifies as Hupa, Yurok, and Karuk. She is thankful for her ancestors and people who have shaped her throughout her life. She has developed strong relationships with her peers and mentors in the Native American Club and Office of Tribal Relation, since starting at Chico State. As an individual,Tsewiniche works to emphasize the focus of giving stewardship of the land to Natives to allow cultural burns and to improve our planet. “Deconstruct, Destabilize, Decolonize.”
Daniel “Jumping Wolf” Meza is a Chico local. Daniel is a senior studying Liberal Studies and American Indian Studies. He is Madesi band of the Pit River (Achomawi) Tribe and part Wintu and Yana. While growing up, tradition and culture were a huge part of Daniel’s life. This has pushed him to be successful in his college career inorder to have the opportunity to positively add to his community. Daniel’s tribe has maintained relations with the local Mechoopda, Maidu tribe for hundreds of years. As Vice President of the Chico State Native Club, Daniel is honored to be part of continuing to establish new relationships and work with Native students and staff to create positive change. “Satíllííwwumá Assimmííní Ćimmu“ -Daniel Meza
Thank you to these students for sharing their unique perspectives and personal stories! Recognizing student voices is crucial to promote diversity, inclusion, and acceptance here at Chico State. The Associated Students values diversity and a sense of inclusion for all, pursuing diversity through equality in our programmatic, educational, and employment opportunities as not just an idea to embrace, but as a community to form, valuing the respect, richness, and understanding that a diverse community brings.
The relationship between Chico State, the Mechoopda tribe, and our Indigenous students is essential in understanding the role we play in representing this history. We thank the Office of Tribal Relations for their work encouraging and supporting these connections!
Happy Native American Heritage Month to all of our Indigenous and Native students and staff! 🎉
Sarah Jones is a student marketing assistant with the Associated Students. Sarah is a Chico local studying Communication Design who works to share and create stories that need to be told. In her spare time, she enjoys volunteering with CAVE and hanging out at the WREC.