Publication Date: April 29, 2022
What is at stake when our young people attempt to belong to a college environment that reflects a world that does not want them for who they are? In this compelling book, Navajo scholar Amanda Tachine takes a personal look at 10 Navajo teenagers, following their experiences during their last year in high school and into their first year in college. It is common to think of this life transition as a time for creating new connections to a campus community, but what if there are systemic mechanisms lurking in that community that hurt Native students’ chances of earning a degree? Tachine describes these mechanisms as systemic monsters and shows how campus environments can be sites of harm for Indigenous students due to factors that she terms monsters’ sense of belonging, namely assimilating, diminishing, harming the worldviews of those not rooted in White supremacy, heteropatriarchy, capitalism, racism, and Indigenous erasure. This book addresses the nature of those monsters and details the Indigenous weapons that students use to defeat them. Rooted in love, life, sacredness, and sovereignty, these weapons reawaken students’ presence and power.
Amanda R. Tachine is an assistant professor of higher and postsecondary education at the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, Arizona State University.
“This book offers the reader a glimpse of issues that pertain to the educational sovereignty of Navajo students and their stories of higher educational access.”
—Teachers College Record
“Tachine has come to this volume with a love, creativity of spirit, and dedication to Native students’ survivance that shines forth. Scholars and practitioners will have a lot to learn from these candid stories of intergenerational wisdom.”
—Eve L. Ewing, assistant professor, University of Chicago
“Fierce love and determination permeate Amanda Tachine’s piercing analyses of higher educational institutions. From the framing question ‘Who belongs in college?’ through the compelling stories of 10 Navajo teenagers’ journeys to and through their first year in college, Tachine weaves a glorious story rug of Diné and Indigenous weapons of resurgence, continuance, reverence, and refusal.”
—K. Tsianina Lomawaima, author, "To Remain an Indian": Lessons in Democracy from a Century of Native American Education
“Amanda Tachine’s Native Presence and Sovereignty in College is both a calling and a gift. First, Dr. Tachine offers readers the gift of a story rug, an intricate weaving featuring the lives of ten Navajo college students and their struggles for belonging. She seamlessly weaves a compelling narrative of how colonialist systems and structures not only condition the experiences of Indigenous students but also the field of belonging. Her resounding message is that Native students are not the problem to be solved in higher education, but rather that the imperative is to slay the ‘monsters’ of settler colonialism, capitalism, and white supremacy. Rarely are we given such a robust analysis of coloniality coupled with a generous articulation of Indigenous ‘weapons’ of resistance. This compelling exemplar of Indigenous methodology is paradigm-shifting and sets a new horizon in Native studies and education.”
—Sandy Grande, professor, University of Connecticut
“In this beautifully crafted, life- and love-centered account, Amanda Tachine brilliantly interweaves the stories of 10 Diné college students with a critical analysis of ongoing coloniality in higher education. Like a tightly woven Diné rug, thematic strands come together in a complex, compelling narrative of Indigenous strength, continuance, and belonging. Speaking directly to Native youth, higher education faculty, administrators, and policymakers, Tachine outlines crucial lessons for confronting systemic education inequities. This is a book readers will not put down until the last strand of the story rug is revealed.”
—Teresa McCarty, Distinguished Professor and GF Kneller Chair in Education and Anthropology, University of California, Los Angeles
2022 Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) Outstanding Book Award