Academic journal article Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development

Training Ethnic Minority Graduate Students in a White Man's Program: Don't Get Bucked Off!

Academic journal article Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development

Training Ethnic Minority Graduate Students in a White Man's Program: Don't Get Bucked Off!

Article excerpt

This is a narrative journey of a Blackfeet woman as she learned to help ethnic minority students navigate graduate training. The talk reflects the holistic, contextual, and interdependent characteristics of Native American culture blended with the culture of the West. Insights from working with horses are included because they have much to teach people.

Esta es la narracion de la trayectoria de una mujer de la tribu Pies Negros que aprendio a ayudar a los estudiantes de minorias etnicas a desenvolverse en sus estudios universitarios. El discurso refleja las caracteristicas holisticas, contextuales e interdependientes de la cultura de los Nativos Americanos mezclada con la cultura occidental. Se incluyen observaciones obtenidas a partir del trabajo con caballos, porque tienen mucho que ensenar a los humanos.

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In developing the presentation from which this article was developed, limited guidance was provided on what the talk should contain. The presentation time was limited to 50 minutes, and the talk was supposed to be about mentoring. The breadth of possibilities was both exciting and a bit daunting. Ultimately, the talk was divided into two sections. The first section was about the awardee--where first author came from, what she does, and how she has worked with ethnic minority students. Ultimately, the talk evolved into a narrative of the journey of one Blackfeet woman (the first author, whose Blackfeet name is Bear Woman) as she learned to help ethnic minority students navigate the demands of graduate training. As is often the case with challenges and passions, the journey is both personal and professional and includes many people whose lives have been deeply connected to hers. Native American culture is holistic, contextual, and, as with other ethnic minority groups (and many of the world's people), it is an interdependent culture that is about connecting person to person. The talk reflects these characteristics blended with the culture of the West. The reader will not find research studies, empirical findings, and references. Others have taken that path. The present talk is more about being rather than doing, and walking with at least occasional grace through complex, contextualized relationships. The second part became fondly known as the "don't get bucked off" part and provides a few (mentoring) insights from working with horses. For this section, the second author was involved as a fellow trainer of minority graduate students and partner in many adventures in the West. As women of the West, some of our time "being" has been with horses, and they have much to teach us. After all, although getting bucked off may be inevitable if you work with horses long enough, it is worth preventing when possible. So, in reading this, the first section is about and authored by the first author (and written in the first person), whereas the second section is coauthored and provides some thoughts and reflections on horses from two women of the West.

history, context, and training

BACKGROUND

I am a member of the Blackfeet Tribe of northern Montana. I am rural and of the West through and through. I now live in northern Utah at the Bear River Ranch, which covers about 55 acres on the Bear River. At the time this article was being written, 11 horses and Eddie, the burro, were wintering at the ranch along with a flock of wild turkeys and lots of ring neck pheasants. My avocation is packing into the wilderness with horses. I have ridden, leading a pack horse, sometimes with students and always with friends, from North Logan, Utah, to southern Montana, through Yellowstone National Park, on my way to the ranch where I was raised.

I grew up on a small cattle ranch on the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana where our north pasture fence is the Canadian border. I grew up poor. But, as a child, I did not know it because everyone I knew was poor, and I never went hungry. …

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