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Embracing Native American Heritage?

twentyseven27twentyseven27 Registered User Posts: 61 Junior Member
edited April 2011 in College Admissions
As a Cherokee Tribal Member with a CDIB, I am (and have been for all my life) a recognized native american. Ninety-nine percent of the time, though, I would classify myself as Caucasian (I'm only 11/256 Native American, or about 1/25--don't ask me where that math came from, it's just what my CDIB says haha). I would say I'm reasonably connected to my heritage, with family reunions in Tahlequah, Oklahoma (the Cherokee capital), presentations on the Cherokee trail of tears, and volunteering at a reservation in Arizona (not Cherokee, but still). Is it wrong to identify myself as native american on college applications? I do not wish to cheat the system in any way, but I thought I would ask for some opinions. I am a junior and my dream schools would be Duke, Dartmouth, Yale, Columbia, Stanford, Harvard, Princeton, etc. Does it really make a difference?
Post edited by twentyseven27 on
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Replies to: Embracing Native American Heritage?

  • twentyseven27twentyseven27 Registered User Posts: 61 Junior Member
    Anyone? I really would like some input. If you disagree with my assessment, that's fine, but I need advice.
  • notasophistamorenotasophistamore Registered User Posts: 182 Junior Member
    I think its a personal valuation. If you can honestly say you identify as NA and you are not just doing it to get into college than its not, imo, cheating/unethical. But if you put it down just for the boost it seems like cheating

    just my opinino
  • PancakedPancaked Registered User Posts: 3,355 Senior Member
    It makes an absolutely incredible amount of difference. Applying as Native American will give you a HUGE advantage.

    Feel free to pick a few of your dream schools and email their admissions to see what they think. I'm not the most well read on this issue myself. Lots of info on this forums about the race question.
  • twentyseven27twentyseven27 Registered User Posts: 61 Junior Member
    Thanks for the input. I am still conflicted, but have another few months to meditate on the issue. Getting into a top college wouldn't feel right if I knew it was only because of my ethnicity. I suppose I thought college admissions were about more than that.
  • glassesarechicglassesarechic Registered User Posts: 5,487 Senior Member
    I believe colleges require you be at least 1/8 Native American, but don't quote me on that.
  • BasajaunBasajaun Registered User Posts: 478 Member
    ^I've heard that, too.
  • twentyseven27twentyseven27 Registered User Posts: 61 Junior Member
    1/8? Hmm. Thanks for the info.
  • Zach055Zach055 Registered User Posts: 22 New Member
    I think its whatever that majority is.
  • physicsnut1physicsnut1 Registered User Posts: 738 Member
    ^Not necessarily. I also think that it is a personal call. But if you want to double-check, I completely agree that you should send a quick e-mail to one or two of your prospective colleges and tell them what you told us. Best of luck :)
  • jgraiderjgraider Registered User Posts: 2,845 Senior Member
    The 1/8 does seem right for some reason. But since you're registered with a tribe, I don't really know
  • siliconvalleymomsiliconvalleymom Registered User Posts: 4,461 Senior Member
    Some schools, like Dartmouth, have staff members in admissions who specialize in increasing Native enrollment. If you feel unsure, you can call them and talk it over.
  • twentyseven27twentyseven27 Registered User Posts: 61 Junior Member
    I will definitely be consulting admissions offices when I begin applying. I forgot to mention visiting the graves of ancestors every year (according to my mother it's a native American tradition that has to do with honoring the dead), and going to Cherokee doctors and dentists as a child in Tahlequah. I didn't realize there were numerical limits to define ethnicity--but I do know I am far more connected to my Cherokee heritage than friends of mine who are 1/8 or more NA. I was always raised to be proud and conscious of my background, so it seems very natural to me to identify myself this way.
  • siliconvalleymomsiliconvalleymom Registered User Posts: 4,461 Senior Member
    Read the census definitions in Shrinkrap's link...you can correctly identify as NA.
  • lookingforwardlookingforward Registered User Posts: 30,870 Senior Member
    There is no hard and fast rule about what fraction NA you need to be. (And, many tribes disagree on what minimum % applies for enrollment, last I looked into this.) Some colleges require enrollment, some don't. I don't see why you are fretting. The Common App ask your heritage/ethnicity and you respond truthfully. The fact that you do celebrate this regularly is a huge marker of your identification with the heritage.

    You are not cheating any system. Don't worry about sliding into some school you don't merit because of this hook. It is a hook, but you still have to meet their standards. They won't take a sub-par kid just because of the NA hook. So, get a good night's rest and get great grades. Keep up your ECs and consider doing something for the tribe. Good luck.
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