How Have Boarding Schools Affected Southwest Pueblo Families?

Meet sociology major Evangeline Nañez.

October 11, 2023

Hometown: Albuquerque, New Mexico

Thesis adviser: Prof. Yaejoon Kwon [sociology]

Thesis: “‘That’s Your Auntie’: An Analysis of Southwest Pueblo Indian Family-Making after Attending Indian Boarding School”

What it’s about: My thesis examines the contemporary relationship of American Indian boarding schools and Pueblo Indian alumni family making within Southwest Pueblo communities. I look at the relationships between boarding school experiences and kinship structures, household values, and resource acquisition. I seek to understand the changes in Indian boarding schools from their origin to the contemporary period, and how these changes have been reflected in Pueblo families.

What it’s really about: How do historical and modern American Indian boarding schools impact the lives of Southwest Pueblo Indian people, and how do these impacts look throughout generations?

In high school: I liked to drive around with friends, read, sleep, and take hikes.

Influential class: In Obsidian Rocks with Prof. Alejandra Roche Recinos [anthropology], I got to learn to knap obsidian. We sat in a large circle, wearing our protective gear, and learned how to shape obsidian through precise blows to the rock. We learned the properties of obsidian, its significance in America’s Indigenous communities, and how to create lithic drawings of the rock. I got to keep the objects I made by shaping the obsidian, which include a spear point and several arrowheads.

Influential book: In Racism without Racists, Eduardo Bonilla-Silva writes about how racism persists in subtle forms in everyday life and how white people form various arguments and excuses to explain or justify racial inequality.

Cool stuff: I was involved with the Multicultural Resource Center, SEEDS, the Office of Institutional Diversity, and Reed College Special Collections and Archives. I also went to the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival, brought writer Tommy Orange to campus, and helped throw Bey Ball and create a community altar for Día de Los Muertos. I cooked delicious food and shared it with friends, visited the coast and went clamming, hiked to Mirror Lake and visited Mount Rainier, watched eagles fly, and stared at the night sky with friends to look for constellations.

Challenges faced: COVID, financial issues, personal loss, and dealing with being away from my home. Building a really strong friend network helped to support me during these rough times.

How has Reed changed you? Reed connected me with some of the most amazing people I have ever met. I am happy to know so many people and feel so connected to community. It also helped guide me to what I would like to do in this life and where I want to be.

Awards, fellowships, grants: Cobell Scholarship, Phillip & Jeanne Wertheimer Scholarship, Raven Spirit Award.

What’s next: Spending time with family, taking long walks, reading for fun, and eventually heading to grad school to focus on an education degree.

Tags: Academics, Students, Thesis, What is a Reedie?