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Native Americans Get Recruited

July 21, 2014 by staff 

Native Americans Get Recruited, Elijah Watson knows he wants to go to college. He also knows that it will be difficult to leave home on the Navajo reservation if he does.

The 17-year-old was reminded of the tough decision he’ll face next year when he participated in a weeklong celebration in March of his cousin’s Kinaalda, a hallowed Navajo ceremony marking a girl’s transition into womanhood.

“I’m afraid because it’s really hard to leave my family,” he said, noting that college would mean he’d be away from taking part in the same rite for his little sister and participating in other important tribal ceremonies.

To reach students like Watson with higher education aspirations, a growing number of universities are offering programs to recruit and prepare Native American students for a transition to college life that can bring on a wrenching emotional conflict as they straddle two worlds.

Many young Native Americans find themselves divided by their desire for a higher education and the drive to stay close to home to hold onto a critical part of their identity. Sometimes, families discourage children from pursuing college, fearing once they leave the reservation they won’t come back.

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