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‘It makes you feel really powerful’: Native students comment on preserving their language, culture

| Monday, September 9, 2019

Meet the Notre Dame students who are trying to ensure their Native culture, heritage and language doesn’t become a thing of the past.

Alan Mychal Boyd, junior

For Lakota student and Notre Dame junior Alan Mychal Boyd, “one of the biggest linchpins of culture is language.” It’s a link to the past, he said, and presently, he’s trying to relearn the Lakota language. 

“It’s a kind of connection to who we used to be or who we are that was lost for awhile, that was suppressed for awhile,” Boyd said of the Lakota language. “It makes you feel really powerful when you speak it.”

Listen to Alan Mychal Boyd’s thoughts on language here. 


Mikaela Murphy, junior

NASAND co-president and Notre Dame junior Mikaela Murphy is one of the only Cherokee students on campus, and she may one day become the only person in the world who is trilingual in English, Russian and Cherokee. 

Murphy felt very supported in her educational endeavors while on her reservation — but many students aren’t as lucky. Murphy said she hopes to someday give back and help kids at Native high schools have a better chance at applying to colleges.

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About Gina Twardosz

Gina Twardosz is a senior English Writing and Communication Studies double major at Saint Mary's College. She's the co-editor of the Investigative Unit, a Saint Mary's social media liaison, and she occasionally writes for SMC News and Scene. Gina is a tried and true Midwesterner and yes, she does say "ope" often.

Contact Gina