Chico State’s Tribal Relations presents ‘Misconceptions of Identity: The Native American Experience’


Danielle Kessler

The office of Tribal Relations hosted a Zoom presentation on Nov. 19 in response to Native American Heritage month. Photo credit: Danielle Kessler

On Thursday, Chico State’s new Office of Tribal Relations hosted a presentation via Zoom to hold conversations regarding the Native American experience. The presentation was led by a group of individuals including the Director of  Tribal Relations, Rachel McBride-Praetorius, as well as other faculty and students. This event along with others was available this month to honor Native American Heritage month. 

The presentation focused on bringing visibility of Native American students and faculty to Chico State. The presentation began with educating the audience on some of the harmful stereotypes of Native Americans in our media. Disney was a main perpetrator of false and stereotypical portrayals of Native American culture as seen in films like “Pocahontas.”

Tribal Relations Specialist, Amber Noel-Camacho talked about numerous mascots that are offensive and her experience with dealing with this.

“I really think that mascots are relevant because in high school, I went to Marysville High School, which is home of the Indians.” 

Noel-Camancho went on to share a story of her nephew who is currently attending Marysville High School and how he felt uncomfortable wearing his senior class hoodie due to the offensive nature of the mascot. 

The second half of the presentation was dedicated to discussing the ways that Chico State has succeeded in representing Native American voices as well as ways they can improve. 

One of the main points that they discussed was the need for more Native American faculty. The group emphasized the importance for students to learn from staff that can share their experience as a member of the community. 

Among those attending the Zoom conference was Chico State administrator, Eddie Vela. Vela expressed his desire to listen to the comments and concerns in order to hopefully enact change on campus. 

Along with the request for more Native American representation, several of the speakers expressed that on a policy level there needs to be change regarding racial identification data. McBride-Praetorius added to this discussion by stating, 

“Data is huge, identification is huge, how we fill out an application is huge. And being removed because we’re insignificant statistically is huge.”

The presentation was full of information that was intended to educate people on the harmful depictions of Native Americans as well as the culture. Throughout the presentation it is clear that there are things that Chico State has done to better the visibility and representation but there is still a ways to go. With the recent addition of the Tribal Relations office and events like this will hopefully allow room for more conversations to promote the visibility of the Native American population at Chico State. 

Sophia Pearson can be reached at [email protected] or @sophia__pearson on Twitter.