Master's Projects (Cross-Cultural Studies)
Master's research project : transient migrations and responses to effective change for Mixtec indigenous youthThis qualitative research was developed not knowing the outcome. The primary goal was to find an indigenous group that resided in the Monterey Bay region of the Central Coast of California. Thanks to the Pajaro Valley Unified School District's Migrant Education Office, this goal was accomplished by the introduction of the Mixtec culture of Oaxaca, in Southern Mexico. The research began by 'hanging out' with the Mixtecs at Adult Education English class building a trust and familiarity. Their primary language is Mixteco,. Lessons were in Spanish to learn English. The project all fell into place after being introduced to Lucia, a trilingual 25 yr. old Mixteca. The secondary goal was in understanding their environmental relationship to identity. Since the Mixtecs are immigrants it was necessary to 1) get acquainted with their history, and homeland 2) attempt to understand purpose and risks to 'sneak across the border' 3) adjustment to life in California. Eight interviews were performed. Seven interviews were in their native language, Mixteco. Lucia's interview was in English and Spanish. A hand held device recorded the interviews. All interview questions were formulated in a partnership with Lucia. The translations are composed genuinely from her indigenous perspective. To acquire first hand photos, three cameras were used by the informants as they worked 'on the job' in the agricultural fields. The interviewees from their personal files donated pictures of their Oaxacan villages. Common themes were identified and are summarized in this report. The data was collected and compiled. The research brought forth a narrative nonfiction, young adult book, requested by the Mixtec students, as the rest of this project lays it out.
Alaska Iñupiaq skin-sewing designs: a portal into cultural identityWhat it means to be an Indigenous person in the 21st century is a powerful and moving experience, and how we explore our own identity is up to us. Access to differing worldviews through printed literature and academia give a largely non-Indigenous viewpoint and inaccurate impressions of what it means to be "Iñupiaq." Indigenous education programs throughout the world, however, are emerging and emphasize personal views of individuals, creating a window into their worldview. Recognizing these worldviews validate Indigenous knowledge and allows this knowledge to be brought into arenas previously thought to be only relevant through Western knowledge. We all are human; we learn in many different ways, and through relationships and cultural training, we create and redefine our identity through experiential learning. Revealing skin sewers' perspectives of themselves, their values, and ways they express cultural identity is part of my research. Examining personal family history and other sources exploring Iñupiaq perspectives of women (or men if found) and their skin-sewn garments, demonstrates how these garments serve as cultural icons of "being Iñupiaq." Part of their story is learning who their mentors are, how were they influenced by Iñupiaq values, and the role of garments representing identity. There are varying reasons of what it means to be Iñupiaq: ideals, values, and human bonds exist between the creator and the wearer of skin-sewn garments.
Do you know Title IX: a sexual assault navigation tool for college studentsThis paper presents a Master's Project in Cross-Cultural Studies at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) that sought to understand Alaska Native and first-year (freshman) students beliefs and behaviors about the Title IX process at UAF. Title IX is a federal law which states that no individual in the United States shall be discriminated or excluded from participation, denied the benefits or subject to discrimination, based on their sex, within any educational program or activity that receives Federal financial assistance. This project undertook a mixed-method study utilizing a survey and focus groups to identify what information students are being provided regarding Title IX, how much students understand regarding their rights and resources, and ultimately to develop a practical tool to improve students' understanding and navigation of the Title IX process. The results of the focus groups and surveys are presented and discussed. The tool includes an explanation of remedies and also where to locate resources here at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.