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Interviews with NIJ’s American Indian and Alaska Native Travel Scholars

Cole Ward, Charles Hassinger, Natalie Snow, Esme Roddy, Jamie Jackson, Tarah Sanchez

NIJ’s American Indian and Alaska Native Travel Scholarship Program Scholars discuss:

  • Why they applied to the program.
  • Which conference they chose to attend and why.
  • Why representation of American Indian and Alaska Native is important in the field of criminal justice.
  • What conference sessions they chose to attend and which they found most interesting.
  • How they want to contribute to the fields of tribal and criminal justice.

Why I Applied to NIJ’s American Indian and Alaska Native Travel Scholarship Program

COLE WARD: So I applied to the American Indian Alaska Native Scholarship Program because it's been some time since I've been in the field of Criminal Justice. And this really allowed that opportunity for me to get back into the field I'd been removed for four years, and not only that, but allowed me to make those connections with some of those top criminologists that are here present.

CHARLES HASSINGER: I applied to this program to come to the criminology conference. I've never been to this conference, and I'm getting ready to apply to grad school. So it was a good networking opportunity and also to, like, find out what type of--or what researchers that I want to work with.

NATALIE SNOW: I applied to this program to be able to attend the full conference, and take in the full experience of the panels, the workshops, and sessions that they have available.

ESME RODDY: As a health professional student, I don't have a lot of opportunity to conduct my own research. But I think it's very important that I understand what's going on in different fields, so I applied to this because I'm not able to present at a conference right now, but I wanted to be familiar with what's going on in the field of Criminal Justice.

JAMIE JACKSON: I applied to the Scholarship Program for an opportunity to meet with other Native scholars and to network with people professionally that could help inform my research and help me do my job as a victim advocate for the Cahuilla Band of Indians better.

Which Conference Chose to Attend NIJ’s American Indian and Alaska Native Travel Scholarship Program

TARAH SANCHEZ: I chose the IACP Conference because I've always had an interest in law enforcement, and I've always wanted to pursue a field working in law enforcement. I knew that it would be a very large conference with a lot of representation, so I was really hopeful that I'd get selected for this conference so that I could meet a lot of new people and really see the differences in law enforcement cultures across the country. I was really excited to see that, and also to make new connections with people for the future of my career.

ESME RODDY: Yeah. So the American Society of Criminology Conference was the most interesting to me just because it covered a broad range of subjects. So I was able to go to panels that range from stress of correctional officers all the way until mental health services offered in jails and prisons.

NATALIE SNOW: This conference is one of the national conferences for my field of study. I study Criminal Justice, and the panels and workshops here have a specific focus for me on feminist criminology and indigenous criminology.

COLE WARD: So I chose American Society of Criminologists for a conference to attend because it brings together so many criminologists. I believe today we have 5-7,000, who all are representing their fields and interests. So that was number one. IACP because I'm really interested in Tribal jurisdiction and how officers and law enforcement agents handle that situation. It was really great to meet with some of the Tribal police agents in Chicago two weeks ago, and that was unexpected. But I'm really glad that we got to do it, and so it exceeded my expectations in that way.

Why Representation of American Indian and Alaska Native Is Important in Criminal Justice

CHARLES HASSINGER: Crime is different in every community, and if you don't have representation from those communities, you're not gonna really understand, like, that criminal behavior.

NATALIE SNOW: It is important to have representation because if you can see it, you can be it. What we see growing up has shaped what we believe is possible in ourselves. So when we see more of a presence of Metis or American Indians in academia and these conferences, it gives us a self-confidence, and a boost to know that anything is possible that we set our mind to.

TARAH SANCHEZ: Representation of American Indians and Alaska Natives is so important in this type of venue because our voices really do matter. Every voice matters, and especially for Native Americans, we often are not able to come off of the reservation to events like this because of financial obligations, and other things like that, so it's really important for those of us that do have the opportunity to come to bring back all the knowledge we have and really spread it and share it with everybody.

ESME RODDY: It's important to have native representation in the field of Criminal Justice because we need more Native perspectives in regard to interventions in Native communities. So I think even when research is being done in Native communities, it's being done by non-Native researchers, and I think that it takes more time for relationship building, it takes more time to get the whole picture of a community.

JAMIE JACKSON: I think it's important to have more representation here so that there are more---to have more presenters that do research about indigenous communities, and also attendees to be able to raise critical issues that are happening with our communities at these presentations, so that people know that we're still her. And that our communities do exist and that we do have issues that are not often researched.

NIJ’s American Indian and Alaska Native Travel Scholarship Program Scholars Discuss Conference Sessions They Found Most Interesting

CHARLES HASSINGER: The most interesting talk or panel was a case study of drug organizations in New York. And they were trying to determine, like, how big a network was from manufacturing to producing, like, drugs all the way down to the street level. But the most interesting part that I liked about it was that--and that I'd never seen in other research--was that they were able to get data from wiretaps of drug networking, so, you know, like, they actually got to listen to, like, phone calls in between, like, one drug dealer to another drug dealer, and, like, you know, incorporate that into their research. So I thought that was really cool.

TARAH SANCHEZ: At this conference so far, I've really enjoyed the expo hall, which features hundreds of vendors. It's really interesting to see the different emerging technologies that are available in policing to help deter crime and also keep public officials safe.

ESME RODDY: I was able to go to a panel that discussed the fentanyl market and harm reduction techniques, and that was the most interesting to me just because of the implications for my career as a psych NP.

JAMIE JACKSON: Actually, the most interesting people I met here at ASC was the fellow Native scholars. Everyone has a unique story, a background, you know. I just think it's really cool that everyone's working towards making a difference within their communities.

TARAH SANCHEZ: The most interesting people I've met at this conference have been my fellow scholars. I was really excited when I first met them because we all immediately clicked, and we had so much in common. Our interests in academics, as well as our personal lives, they're so similar.

ESME RODDY: So I think the most important connections have been with the other students on the Tribal scholarship, just because we've been able to apply what we've learned at all of the different talks that we went to and able to talk about its implications in Indian Country. So there wasn't a lot of representation of Native people in the panels that I went to, but being able to discuss the other research interests of people in the group and how they're applying that work to their communities was really interesting.

NIJ’s American Indian and Alaska Native Travel Scholarship Program Scholars on How They Want to Contribute to Tribal and Criminal Justice

TARAH SANCHEZ: What I hope to contribute to the Criminal Justice field and Tribal justice is how important it is to really hear what people are saying. Listening to communities and what they are passionate about and what's important to them is really important. Policies should really be geared toward what will most impact those communities. So that's what I want to bring back to my employer, as well as the communities that I come from, of how important it is to really listen to people and do the work that's going to benefit them.

JAMIE JACKSON: There's definitely a lack of representation, and it motivates me to keep going within higher education and to also work towards practice. I want to be able to practice law so that I can make practical changes and also still be in academia so that I can produce knowledge and spread awareness about the issues that are happening within our community.

NATALIE SNOW: I want to go into academia, and the conference allows me to learn the skills needed to better collaborate and to do better research.

TARAH SANCHEZ: So my future career aspirations are pretty broad at this point. I know that I want to work in law enforcement. I am scheduled to go to the police academy in my state in a few months, so I'm really looking forward to that experience and learning about more law and things I haven't really explored so far.

ESME RODDY: So I think the AIAN Tribal Scholarship Program has given me an opportunity to think about what research questions. I want to ask in the future, and inspired me to consider the implications of Criminal Justice research in everything that I do.

JAMIE JACKSON: The stuff that I learned at ASC and IACP will help me. It better informs my research and my work as a victim advocate. It was great to be able to meet law enforcement and find out what's happening within Tribal communities across the country. And it's also good to see what's happening within research and academia about our communities.



Date Created: April 10, 2020