I remember my first week at Dartmouth College. It was after a week-long bus ride from California. Dartmouth, the Ivies, the East Coast, College in general, they are all worlds away from the reality of the California Rez (American Indian Reservation). Being Native and attending college means having to exist in two worlds. You must be strong within yourself to face the challenges ahead.
To those of you in school now:
Start chanting now: Go NADS Go! Go NADS Go! Go NADS Go!
Stay strong, resist the temptations. Try your best to ignore the Review read the Dartmouth. Get close to the other Native American students - they are part of your family no.
Go to sleep earlier now and then, have tea at Sanborn house, don't go to phi reds if you need to study, don't miss the chicken finger night at Thayer.
Take advantage of office hours. Get to know your professors on a one to one level if possible. Contrary to popular belief they are human too. If they know you as a person, it helps them understand where you are coming from and who you are as an individual. Take the time to dress up nicely it will be appreciated, and they do not need to see how cool you are in flip-flops, sunglasses and shorts. Best offices hours I heard of, running with your prof. Back in the day we used to throw a dinner party. There is nothing like seeing a tipsy Professor enjoying some regular non-classroom talk with students.
A shot of espresso actually has less caffeine than a large coffee. Don't waste your money on that $4 dopio grande soy caramel latte, there is time for that when you graduate and get a job (even then don't do it).
The clam chowder at the hop is best on Friday afternoon (much thicker then), go to the film society flicks, work off the Thayer layer, get a warmer coat than you think you need, try skiing, get to know the Dean-They could be your friend in time of need.
Hope they still have chili dog day down to the A & W, try and get hotel reservations soon for your family to come to graduation, help out at the Pow Pow, do something fun on Spring break, write your family more.
Go to the Shattuck Observatory; if you are really brave go to the top of Bartlett Tower.
Scout out a QUIET place to study during finals. See the world while you can. Plan to study abroad do a Language Study Abroad (LSA) or Foreign Study Program (FSP) at least a semester.
Attend a Dartmouth Aires concert. Participate in DOC (outdoor clubs). Get involved in a club or organization. Attend an International Fair. Try being a DJ at the radio station; forcing people to listen to music you like is cathartic.
Clean up the donut dandruff from the Native American Program office floor.
Make a point of getting to know your financial aid officer personally. Ask for a better financial aid package. Don't worry about the massive loans; it is an investment in you.
Enjoy the dance of the changing leaf colors, road trips to new places (with a designated driver), be active (politically, academically, socially, community, etc.).
Invite each of your profs to have lunch with you, it is a classy move, you will have quality time with them and 60% of the time they will pick up the tab.
Pay homage to the old man from the original Native American house, take the 8:00 AM language drill (there are more things you want to do in the evening).
Take a PE class that challenges you or gives you a new skill. Try, archery (not all Natives are born knowing how to shoot a bow and arrow), or aikido they are practical skills you can use in life. Rifle class is an easy PE Credit (plus you get to shoot things); a 9 AM soccer class on Thursdays after house meetings is not an easy PE Credits.
Use condoms, tweak the establishments nose occasionally, skate on Occum Pond, FYI Lebanon has the foggiest airport on the east coast, learn to enjoy the snow and pray for sun.
Live in the Native American Dartmouth house at least one semester. Get a blow dryer or your hair will freeze when you are running and late to that 8 AM class. Dance at the Afro Am, resist the urge to apply for the credit cards, if you check your Hinman box every other day you're more likely to have mail.
Study the wisdom of Buckaroo Banzai, help Hillel with the Sukkoth, that's not doggy doo on the green those are grass plugs, try a modified major, write letters to the editor, run for an office.
Wander the beautiful campus. Learn to appreciate the access to nature that the college provides, not every college owns a pond, land tract, ski way, etc.
Oceans and earth moon and everyone are great science classes for the humanities' majors; Bio 6 is not a good science for humanities major, talk to that cute guy or girl (make eye contact first), go to Montreal and Boston.
Study overnight in the attic library at Sanborn. (I guess this would be frowned upon Campus PO so keep it on the DL.) Sleep in the main library.
Lums has great key lime pie (if it is still around-if not gravy fries at any late night diner will do), don't rely on the cabs to get there on time, start an outline for those papers early so it's easier to finish when you wait till the last minute.
Buy as much computer as financial aid will allow. For every 1 hour in class try to schedule 2-3 for study-research and reading. Study during the day and tackle your hardest classes work first. Take copious notes. Remember your professors can tell if you're using a 14 point font and 1.5 inch margins, Save often!!
Take frequent breaks, college life is about growing as an individual, meet new people, take long walks, workout, don't gain that freshman 15 lbs, be active in some new projects or organizations, a good (responsible) social life will help you find a good connection to school. Just say no every now and then.
Go out for a sports team or club team. You will meet people and stay active; Intramurals are always fun (do they still have broom hockey and inter-tube water polo)?
Learn your language, try and preserve the Native knowledge of your people it is your connection to your very existence. Work with the Rassias Foundation to get assistance for your tribe. Consider the needs of your people and find ways to elect better Tribal leaders.
Take a run to Storr's Pond (that is where we used to have the Pow-Pow). Explore the campus ravine behind the president's house to the river.
Don't shy away from difficult courses or professors. Don't get in over your head either. Do not be afraid to try something new and if you realize in the first few classes it is way beyond your capacity or interest, drop it and move on.
Take intro courses. Who knows, philosophy, religion, or drama 101 may change the course of your education.
Speak up in seminars or class. Ask questions. Don't be afraid. Someone else is wondering the same thing as you. Your Prof will appreciate the participation.
Write, write, write. Keep a journal. You have to learn to communicate your every thought through words, be creative. It is a cliché but think outside the box. Come at things from a different angle. Your Professor already knows that light and dark is a major metaphor in Heart of Darkness.
Look for creative ways to get money. Apply for grants to study things that interest you. Apply for a fellowship to lead you into new areas to explore, not just something related to your major or career goal.
Learn a different language. The world is getting smaller, and communication is the key to EVERYTHING!
Get to know your dorm mates; don't isolate yourself with just other NADs
Don't drink your freshman year away.
Go from the classroom to the real world. Find funding that allows you to complete an internship in the Native community.
Ramen is cheap (not nutritious) if you have extra money then add a hot dog for protein. Bringing comods from home will just confuse your non-Indian friends but can help you get the basics together for NDN Taco night. Good nutrition is important for being able to study long and hard and to staying healthy.
You are here to learn about everything. Develop an appreciation for the arts. Attend concerts, recitals, lectures, art show openings, symposia, and poetry slams.
Get a tutor. Join a study group, or find a partner to work with more minds cannot be bad.
And most importantly always take advice from alumni with skepticism; it's your school now.
Andre Cramblit is an enrolled member of the Karuk Tribe. His family is from the center of The Karuk World, the village of Katiimeen.