Roxy Mashkawiziikwe Sprowl (she / they) is in second year in the College of Social Sciences major in social work with a minor in Native Studies in law, justice and public policy. A citizen of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe, Sprowl is a committed student activist and member of the Social Sciences Fellows Program, the Bridge Scholars and the Native Students Organization of North America.
Everyone has their own journey of reconquest around how they reclaim their identity as an indigenous people, but for me it was and is important to learn my name, my Anishinaabe clan and to start learning the Ojibwe language. . I grew up disconnected from my tribal community and my reservation after being placed with my non-native family under the Indian Child Welfare Act.
When I was ready to start claiming my identity, I spoke with members of the local community, healers, and some of my family for advice. Growing up disconnected from some part of your identity can be extremely difficult. However, reconnecting with members of my community, my ancestral lands, my language and myself has helped me immensely. The journey of recovery and reconnection never ends; we are always learning – the beginning of doing it is extremely important.
I am currently leading a research project that focuses on exploring how people of color are portrayed in popular American history textbooks for high schools. This project is truly grounded in racial reconciliation efforts, and the hope is that it will show the importance of teaching American history accurately.
To do this, we have taken various paths. Former project manager Erykah Benson focused on analyzing the text and visuals included in the books, and we built on that by numerically comparing how often people of color are portrayed in some textbooks, compared to the percentage of specific groups of the population. account for.
This year, through primarily visual analysis, we take an in-depth look at how often these portrayals are racial caricatures and whether the book’s editors recognize these portrayals as stereotypes.
This project is personally important to me because I grew up disconnected from my tribal community, so it was damaging for me not to have the opportunity at school to learn anything about my history. As I learned my story through my family, what I learned in school did not match, triggering intergenerational trauma.
Another way I work to reclaim and connect with my story is through NAISO, a campus organization for undergraduates who identify as Indigenous.
I joined this organization in first year because I knew it would be important for me to have a sense of community on campus. Since then it has been a lot of fun, and I really enjoyed creating all of the awareness flyers and social media posts to connect people to our organization. We organize several events, such as film screenings, craft workshops and an annual powwow of love, and they are open to students who want to learn more about our cultures.
To learn more about Sprowl’s experiments, read the full article on the College of Social Sciences website.