Commemorating the Culture of Native American Students

Delina Trottier standing in a field.
Hannah Alfaro

As a student at TMCC, Delina Trottier saw an opportunity to educate and celebrate the Native American culture that is integral to life in the Great Basin. Now, having graduated, Trottier has returned to the College to ensure that there is ample support, resources, and space for our indigenous students.

Becoming an Advocate

Trottier is now the Native American student advocate in the College’s Recruitment and Access Center, and although new to working here, she is already making progress in leaps and bounds when it comes to championing the indigenous community. Her first goal? Make certain that Native American students know and take advantage of the Native American Fee Waiver.

The Native American Fee Waiver is a resource for students who are members of a federally recognized Indian tribe or nation in Nevada, or who are certified as a descendent of an enrolled member of a tribe or nation, to have certain academic fees waived. While the student has to have completed their FAFSA, and met certain requirements, the waiver is free, there is no deadline, and Trottier is more than happy to help students access and fill out the form.

“When I started, a small number of the students who were eligible were actually taking advantage of the waiver,” Trottier said. “I was able to reach out to students who I thought may benefit, and help them complete the process to get them that extra aid. It’s been so rewarding to see how outreach and advocacy can really make a difference for Native American college students.”

While from the Onion Lake Cree Nation, Trottier has been living on Paiute territory at Pyramid Lake for the past nine years while pursuing her education. She’s had the chance to get to know people of the Great Basin tribes and wants to ensure the greater College community has that same opportunity.

Celebrating People and Culture

Although there are four distinct tribes that occupy the Great Basin area—Western Shoshone, Northern Paiute, Southern Paiute, and Washoe—many people in the community aren’t familiar with who they are or what makes each tribe unique. With Indigenous Peoples’ Day coming up, Trottier saw it as the perfect time to bring education and culture to the College.

“Graduating students are going to work with, or for. tribes when they enter the workforce,” Trottier said. “It’s important they have a deeper understanding of the people and their culture that isn’t the generic information many learn from entertainment or television.”

As she planned events for Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Trottier took special care in choosing speakers and exercises that represent the peoples of the Great Basin. On Monday, Oct. 10 at the Dandini Campus, students can celebrate the culture, contribution and resilience of Indigenous Peoples. During the day, you’ll be able to attend:

  • Celebration with Song and Dance in the Dandini Campus Plaza, 9:45–10:45 a.m. This event will include a performance by the Pyramid Lake Jr./Sr. High School Performing Arts Class, who will use natural instruments to tell stories specific to the people here through song and dance.
  • History of Indigenous Peoples’ Day, presented by Reno Sparks Indian Colony Director of Public Relations Bethany Sam and Tribal Chairman Arlan Melendez, who was awarded the President's Medal during spring commencement. From 11 a.m. to noon in SIER 108, you can learn about the significance and importance of recognizing and celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day from individuals with personal knowledge and history of the surrounding area.
  • Dreamcatcher Activity and Presentation in VISTA 206, 2–4 p.m. During this hands-on activity, you can create a dreamcatcher in a culturally-sensitive way while learning the significance, history, and intent of the objects. This activity is open to the first 40 people to RSVP.

These activities are the perfect way to honor America's first inhabitants and the Tribal Nations that continue to thrive today. While engaging in this event, you can support a new, brighter future of promise and equity for tribal nations—a future grounded in tribal sovereignty and respect for the human rights of indigenous people in the Americas and around the world.

Ensuring Continued Support

Trottier has big plans for more celebrations after Indigenous Peoples’ Day. November is Native American Heritage month, and she’s making sure Native American students at the College are seen, celebrated, and heard. Not only is she planning events to get the whole community involved, but she’s also including student voices as well. This month, she’ll virtually meet with students to find out how they want to celebrate the month.

“I want to create a space where Native American students can make their voices heard,” Trottier said. “I want them to be able to advocate for themselves, and that includes involving them with the planning of these events. It’s for them, and they should feel that it represents them accurately.”

Growing up learning and participating in her culture, traditions, and teachings, Trottier knows how vital it is to foster and support that in students. While she’s doing amazing work at the College, Trottier is also well-known for being part of the Grammy-nominated group Young Spirit, and dedicates time to crafts such as bead-work.

For more information on upcoming events or resources, contact the Recruitment and Access Center