Tele-Native Youth: Indigenizing Higher Education

By: Ruben Littlehead, Northern Cheyenne

This webinar included three dynamic Native scholars, Charitie Ropoti (Yup’ik & Sāmoan), Owen Oliver (Quinault (Chinook) & Isleta Pueblo), and Dr. Twyla Baker (Mandan, Hidatsa, & Arikara), all spoke very eloquently and professional about higher education and what it means to them and how they are Indigenizing these systems for future generations.

I was amazed that two of the panelist, Owen and Charitie, are still in college. They both have accomplished so much in their young adult life, and it is inspiring and amazing to see these young people who will be soon in charge of making positive change within Indian Country. They both are natural born leaders and role models for Indian Country, and also have great leaders paving a path to follow, such as Dr. Twyla Baker.

Dr. Baker shared with us her life story, which is very compelling and a true testament of how hard work pays off. She currently serves as the President of the Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College in New Town, North Dakota. She shared some of her philosophy and pedagogy of what she believes in and expects of her faculty and staff. Dr. Baker also provided some inspiration to the viewers of obstacles and challenges that face our youth when trying to attain higher education.

I believe this webinar was very useful and informative. The discussions and content could benefit not only the young viewers, but adults, parents, educators, school administrators and counselors. It was that good! 

In conclusion, I shared a personal feeling of inspiration and felt motivated to finish my master’s degree. Maybe it was the positive, intellectual energy created by all three native scholars.

Ruben Littlehead, an enrolled member of the Northern Cheyenne tribe, and currently resides in Lawrence, Kansas with his wife and four children. The proud Haskell Indian Nations University alum is currently pursing a masters degree at the University of Kansas. Throughout his life, Ruben has had many different hats; commercial roofer, Kirby salesman, Retention Specialist at Haskell, and most recent an independent consultant working with various tribal nations and first nations throughout United States and Canada. Being a consultant Ruben has the privilege to travel and see and experience the diverse communities and learn first hand from the teachers and elders of each society.  Ruben is also a basketball lover, and serve as a basketball coach and trainer through player development. Lastly, Ruben enjoys the outdoors and recently took up hiking and wants to explore more of this beautiful world.