Discovering Our Story provides the reflections of several Native American Elders who have transformed hardships and life experiences to become successful in their careers. Reviewing their lives and listening to their stories gives each of us the understanding of how to successfully transform life difficulties into choosing careers of happiness and well-being. Each of the Elders presented in this curriculum discovered personal talents, gifts, passion, and in the end, success.
This curriculum outlines six successful Native Americans through review of the Hero’s Journey. Each will be discussed in the five steps of transforming difficulties into success. Our Elder stories reviewed include:
- Kevin Goodluck, Navajo, is a successful medical doctor.
- Ben Rhodd, Potawatomi, searched many jobs and found his joy as an Archeologist.
- Marilyn Balluta, Na’Dene Athabascan, is a leader and educator of her language.
- Frank Alby, Inupiat, worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and has been a leader in the military.
- John Spence, Gros Ventre & Sioux, has walked through life to become a mental health and addictions therapist.
- Marc Anderson, Oklahoma Seminole, has become a successful engineer.
It becomes clear after hearing these stories that achieving our career goals can be daunting and challenging. Obstacles exist. Many people never achieve career dreams because they allow the obstacles to stand in their way. We hope that this curriculum can assist the participant in discovering the path to a meaningful career as a challenge of transformation. We utilize the Hero’s Journey, a mythic story, as a guide to prepare for those challenges.
We also operate on the premise that we cannot limit our curriculum to teaching about jobs that currently exist. In the fast changing world we now live, 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 more meaningful to help people develop the understanding that no matter what jobs exist, that they are capable and creative and smart enough to meet the challenges involved.
It is also important to consider that a “career” helps us find a purpose larger than ourselves to guide us. Learning how to discover our individual passions and hopes provide the motivation to move forward when obstacles present themselves. Often, it is the discovery of our passions and talents that guide us to find a career path. As Native American people, we have always had a strong spirit and history that we can draw upon when we understand our purpose.