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ERIC Number: EJ841989
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2003
Pages: 4
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0095-182X
The Experience of a Native American English Professor in Central Pennsylvania
Sellers, Stephanie
American Indian Quarterly, v27 n1-2 p412-415 Win-Spr 2003
The author is a part-time English faculty at a wealthy, 95 percent Anglo, liberal arts college in Pennsylvania, and she is a candidate for a PhD in Native American studies. College administrators and her colleagues know that she is a tribally enrolled Native American (Shawnee). She used her tribal enrollment card for Form I-9 identification when she became employed there four years ago, and she (used to) speak often of her academic endeavors in the Native American discipline. She teaches Native writers and culture as part of her English composition courses, and the course description appears in the college catalog. Despite this general knowing on campus, everything Native American about her and around her is invisible to her coworkers: her personhood, her discipline, Native colleagues in the field, Native owned and produced publications (including her own), and ultimately all Native people and Native history. College administrators proudly laud a campus "Native presence" because they allow a pan-tribal group to have a powwow once a year in their ballroom. She is invisible before people who have no idea even what questions to ask so that her field and she can be known on campus and in the curriculum. They are completely foreign. Their education--from the president to the faculty to the students--has given them no language or knowledge to use to reach her or Native culture and history. She did not anticipate the amount of loneliness she would feel among people who she believes to be quite kind and respectful--who sincerely promote diversity on campus from the faculty to the curriculum. Unfortunately, she has had some bitter experiences of blatant racism and, perhaps because she so foolishly believed racism could not exist at this fine college so lauded for its commitment to civil rights and the highest academic endeavors, she was utterly shocked and disillusioned about the institution and human beings in general. But that was a long four years ago. Now that she has stopped talking about her field, she has noticed colleagues are much more at ease around her. Perhaps this is why she experienced so much ease in being Native throughout her life: silence.
University of Nebraska Press. 1111 Lincoln Mall, Lincoln, NE 68588-0630. Tel: 800-755-1105; Fax: 800-526-2617; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Pennsylvania