Introducing SOHA Graduate Student Representative, Teagan Dreyer

The members of this organization are among those that seek to give a voice to those that experienced history just by living their lives . . .

-Teagan Dreyer
Teagan Dreyer and Farina King in Monument Valley, Navajo Nation (May 2019)

My name is Teagan Dreyer, a graduate student at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, and my involvement with SOHA was completely by chance. At NSU I took a class taught by Dr. Farina King and one of the texts for this course was her book Earth Memory Compass. This text looked at the boarding school experiences of Navajo Peoples, and included a lot of oral history, focusing on the individuals that went through a journey that was complex and not as simple as had been presented to me in the past. Being from Oklahoma, a Native American, and my father having worked at a boarding school that still serves Native American students, I connected with Dr. King’s research. She allowed me to accompany her on an excursion to the Navajo Reservation and gave me the opportunity to meet community members who had personal ties to more research and oral history she continued to do. Seeing my interest she introduced me to SOHA, and from her encouragement I was voted the Student Representative and was able to be put on a panel in the upcoming conference with her talking about this experience, along with how it inspired me in the direction of my thesis.

For my thesis, I am looking at five boarding schools in the state of Oklahoma, three of which do not exist anymore with two existing in some capacity under which they were founded. I want to understand what caused these schools to be founded, how did tribal members feel as these schools closed, and get some insight into the complex relationship between the tribes in Oklahoma and education. Due to Dr. King’s exposing me to the importance of oral history I am interviewing those with a connection to these schools, because they give credence and context to a part of Native American history that is seen as over when the reality is that these school’s impact continues to be felt. The members of this organization are among those that seek to give a voice to those that experienced history just by living their lives, and I feel that being a part of it, even for the short time I have been, has impacted me as a researcher. 

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