What I’ve learned thus far.
I applied for a Bush Fellowship is to get some support in accomplishing one of my main goals, which is obtain a Doctorate in Psychology. I want to get my doctorate so I can feel prepared to provide critical analysis and to feel truly competent with the ability to engage our reservations multiple fronts and to know that I have been armed with research and writing skills that would enable me to be an effective agent of change for my Lakota people.
I took some time to work on my second goal which is Peace Making, I took a trip to Shiprock New Mexico to visit with a Navajo Peace Maker named Raymond Deale; I used the proper Indigenous protocol of giving him a gift prior to asking for his advise. He accepted these and took the time to meet with me at his office in the Court House Shiprock NM. I also met his Supervisor and some of his coworkers. He shared with me the history of Navajo Peace Making which was codified into law in the Navajo Nation Court in April 23rd 1984, he said the Peace Making process is related to the historical process of choosing a Head Man or Naat’aani, he said a Heads Man represents his group or community in its relations to other groups or communities. The Heads Man must reside in the community that choses him and he must have a high degree of integrity. He said there are many conflicts in the communities of the Navajo Nation that cannot be solved in the contemporary formal court system.
What I am currently learning.
The Bush Retreat in Chaska MN was an excellent learning experience, I particularly like the facilitator Joy, and she brought the spirit to the retreat, with the sharing her healing story about how spirit can guide you to some powerful places. The sharing wall had the words “If your dreams don’t scare you they are not big enough” and “Take time to dance and breathe”, “its good to get in touch with your mediocrity sometimes”. These are very powerful words that make me think about my Bush Fellowship experience. It was good to meet all the 2014 Bush Fellows in person, I wanted to visit with all of them individually but I did not get the chance. It was also good to meet with some of the Bush Foundation Board; I had the opportunity to have dinner with the Board Chairwomen. I still have the beetle that was at our table, as I listened to the Director of the Minnesota Science Museum, it reminds me of all the powerful things that can come from seemingly insignificant things.
One of the dreams that scares me the most is getting my PhD, I naively set out on this journey not knowing all of the ways I can fail, and fall flat on my face. I just completed one of the most difficult classes at Walden University the “Advanced Quantitative Research Methods Research Class”, I was able to pass the class with an A, Dr. Soun said when he was taking his PhD journey his Statistics Professor told him “Statistics is the class that statistically eliminates students from the PhD program”(Walden University, 2014) I worked hard on this class, I had to humble myself and ask for help, first in prayer, then I requested assistance from a tutor from Walden University named Edward Irobi, he took the time to encourage me and assisted me in navigating the statistical package called SPSS Statistical Package for Social Sciences.
I attended the Walden University Residency in Hilo HI, this Residency focused on the development of a dissertation, at the end of the residency I had to complete a HAT a Historical Alignment Tool; this is a tool that assists you in developing alignment between research components as I create my dissertation premise. The premise is one of the first steps you take before you begin writing the dissertation. I want to thank the Bush Foundation for providing the assistance necessary to make it to this Residency.
Where I am going or big forks in the road that I have run into.
I did not run into any forks in the road, but I did hire someone to help me navigate the road or journey. My first fellowship goal to obtain my dissertation; I hired a consultant/mentor to assist me with the dissertation process. I hired Dr. Liza Molina who holds an MPH and ScD from Harvard University. She has over a decade consulting experience and teaching graduate level research methods, statistics, and technical writing. According to the Thesis Therapy website, it states that the inability to complete a thesis or dissertation is the leading reason for dropping out of a doctoral program. Over half (52%) of PhD candidates never complete their dissertation. I don’t want to become one of these statistics. Some of her services include editing, data analysis and other forms of technical assistance. I sent her a copy of my draft dissertation proposal, we decided to reduce the proposal down to a premise, which I can use to present to a potential dissertation committee chairperson. At Walden University, this is the initial step in the dissertation process after a committee chair is selected two more committee members are selected. This committee reviews the premise, and then if the committee approves the premise, the student can begin the proposal process. In our initial introductory visit Dr. Molina made some suggestions on my dissertation proposal, we also talked about the differences between a quantitative and qualitative dissertation, we agreed to create a mixed methods dissertation. Thus far I have taken the first step toward my dissertation, I selected a Dissertation Committee chair, Dr. Pricilla Loun has agreed to be my dissertation chair.
How is my learning impacting my current leadership and/or the work of my Fellowship?
My second goal of developing a Peace Making Process on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation has gained some momentum. In my initial visit to the Navajo Nation, I visited with Raymond Deale who contacted the Center for Court Innovations located in New York City. In my initial visit with Brett Taylor from the CCI he stated that he needed to work with a representative from the Oglala Sioux Tribal Court System, so I gave him the email for Tate win Means the Attorney General for the Oglala Sioux Tribal Court. After consulting with her, they have agreed to come in the first part of December and provide some Peace Making Training on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Increasing the number of Peace Makers on the Pine Ridge Reservation is the first part of the process; the second part is developing the infrastructure for the court to integrate Peace Making into Oglala Sioux Tribes court system. As mentioned in my prior report, the new Justice Center is set to open soon, and at the center of the Justice Center is a round Peace Making room. We just need to increase the number of Peace Makers and create the infrastructure.
The third aspect of the fellowship report is the networking part; I looked at my notes from the Fellowship Retreat Workshop on Networking, particularly the Fellowship Network Diagram. I will begin the process of looking for people who have strategic connections that can help me achieve my Fellowship goal. I looked at the middle circle and I saw Alicia Mousseau PhD, who recently received her doctorate in Psychology, she came to visit me yesterday, asking to interview me on some Lakota cultural knowledge, so we had the opportunity to visit, I assisted her with an interview, perhaps later on I can ask her for assistance in my fellowship goal of obtaining my dissertation.