Saturday, August 24, 2019

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C-EB graduate opts for summer in Alaska over graduation walk


2019 C-EB graduate Nathaniel Fast Wolf travels north after being accepted into a unique Alaska Research Program workshop and internship experience

Driven by a desire to learn as much as he can about Native American tribes across the United States, C-EB graduate and University of Morris, MN-bound freshman Nathaniel Fast Wolf applied for and was delighted to win acceptance into the first Alaska Indigenous Research Program: Promoting Resilience, Health and Wellness May 6-24, 2019 and a paid internship with the Alaskan Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) and Alaska Pacific University (APU) from May 28-June 28.

Fast Wolf’s acceptance into the program required him to miss walking with his fellow C-EB graduates on May 19, although he was able to attend the Senior Honoring on May 17. Fast Wolf left for the program on May 18 and said he was willing to pass on the walk for the opportunity to study for a summer in Alaska before he begins his college experience.

Fast Wolf saw a link for the We R Native website, on which he found out about the Alaska Research Program, where he filled out two applications, one for the workshop and one for the internship.

“For me, it’s a really huge deal. . . American Indian programs are really competitive, and they took me over one of their own. I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m the only Native from the lower 48,” Fast Wolf said in an interview before he left in May.

Fast Wolf was attracted to the program for several reasons. He wanted to see how Alaskan tribes handle similar issues or face different issues as those faced by tribes with which he is more familiar; he is able to earn college credit through the workshops; and he likes to travel, and this opportunity affords him with the benefit of learning more about Alaska and Alaskan Native experiences, he said.

Fast Wolf researched APU history and current locations as soon as he knew he would be attending the program.

“It’s the nicest campus I have ever seen,” Fast Wolf said, based on what he saw on the university website.

According to the APU website, “Under the direction of Peter Gordon Gould, an Unangax from the village of Unga, Alaska Methodist University (AMU) offered its first classes in 1960.” The name of the university was changed in 1978 to APU but remains affiliated to United Methodist church and its commitment to indigenous culture, which was a big draw for Fast Wolf, who plans to study psychology and American Indian and Indigenous Studies at Morris, where he received a tuition waiver and determined he really liked the campus after his campus visit for its small size, circular structure and friendly people.

APU’s vision statement is, “Honoring Alaska’s Indigenous heritage, exemplifying excellence, and preparing paths,” and its mission is to provide “a world-class, hands-on, culturally responsive educational experience in collaboration with our students, communities, and Tribal partners.”

The research program Fast Wolf participated in addresses the historical underrepresentation “of Alaska Native/Native American Indian individuals among researchers and health scientists,” and sees “a need for Western-trained researchers to be culturally grounded, respectful and responsive in meeting the health needs of Alaska Native/American Indian communities,” according to ANTHC website.

The research program’s goal “is to increase the health research capacity of Alaska Native/American Indian individuals and communities by providing cross-cultural research education.”

Fast Wolf is using his training from the three-week workshop during May in his June Internship giving him the hands-on experience APU promises its students.

Fast Wolf’s excitement was apparent as he shared the little information he learned about the APU campus, ANTHC, and Alaska’s land and weather-scape.

“I’m really proud to be going, and I’m really excited,” Fast Wolf said.

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