Through My Eyes

Seeing the World Through the Eyes of a Native Student at Big Sky


Maddie C

The author, Cali Higgins, is a sophomore in the HSA program.

Cali Higgins, Special to the Sun Journal

What is it like being the only person of your culture at your school?

Now let me rephrase that question: “How does it feel being one of the few people of your culture at your school?”

You might disagree with me and say that there’s more than a few natives at this school, but it doesn’t feel that way. Most of the day at school I feel different and left out because a large majority of my classmates are white. And they all seem to get along with each other.

And yes I do sometimes get along with them, which gets me an occasional “hey” or “how’s it going?”

But it doesn’t make me feel any better, because I do still feel different, even after exchanging small talk with them.

And because of that you might say or think “then you’re unique” and that unique can be a good thing. But how can “being unique” be a good thing when I feel this way?

Whenever I’m in a class where I’m the only native or the only colored person there, I get stared at and it feels like I’m avoided because, like I said before, everyone else seems to get along and I don’t.

And because of that it somehow gives them the right to stare. I don’t only get stared at by other students either, but also by the staff of this school and other people outside of this school.

There’s Native American week…and other things to do with Native culture for that matter.

I don’t dislike it, but I wouldn’t say I like it, per se, either. Whenever this week or this “topic” comes around or is brought up I’m always in the spotlight, whether it be my peers or my teachers. I always have to be the one to educate everyone about “my” culture, and it sucks. Because I shouldn’t have to. Because I’m supposed to be the student, not the teacher. Because it’s not my job to do so, it’s the teacher’s job to be educated.

Okay, you’re probably asking “why are you writing about this?” or “what’s the point?”

Well. The purpose of this is to make you and a lot of people aware. And to make sure that these situations are brought up and dealt with.

Because trust me when I say this: It’s not a good feeling when you’re getting stared at because you’re the only person of color or the only native. Or when you’re being used as an “authentic” resource for your class because that’s your culture. On top of all that, people shouldn’t have to feel like this or go through it. And because of that I want to bring more awareness to this topic.