In Karina Walter’s interview that shares how she came to do the work she does as a researcher we can find a powerful transformation in her life journey. She reveals that in her early days of public schooling she considered herself to not be a good student. At the end of her story she shares how she overcame that belief and is now a successful researcher with a Ph.D. who directs a university program that helps many Native communities and individuals.
The question becomes, how did she transform from someone who saw herself as not capable to a leader in her field? What had to happen in her life and how can we recognize and act upon similar situations that we might find in our lives? What can we learn from her story?
We can also look at the traditional stories of Native people that explain how the world came to be, how the world operates, and how we humans are supposed to live in that world. And if we combine the two things together, the traditional story that addresses big issues and the personal story that helps us learn from the lives of others, then we might have a weaving of stories and meanings that can help us as we look ahead in our lives.
This curriculum will rely on the stories of various Native people that work in a variety of jobs and positions to help us see how we might direct our own lives. Sometimes the path is direct, like the story shared by Judy Bluehorse Skelton, who was raised with traditional teachings, and sometimes it is harder to navigate, like Karina Walters, who was raised in an urban area far from her tribe. Regardless, we can see that the path to each career was a journey. (Don Motanic chose a career to be of service to his tribe as did David Lewis and Johnny Moses.) We will share both and allow the reader to find their own answers, for that is how storytelling works.
We will also operate on the premise that we cannot limit our curriculum to teaching about jobs that currently exist because in the fast changing world we now live in, jobs that are now available might not be there in a few years or jobs might be developed in the next few years that don’t exist now. We feel it is, therefore, more meaningful to help people develop the attitude that no matter what jobs there are in the future, they are capable and creative and smart enough to meet the challenges involved. As Native people, we have always been adaptable and creative and we need those abilities now more than ever.