With approximately 18 American Indian reservations, the County of San Diego has more Indian reservations than any other county in the United States. UC San Diego sits on the ancestral homelands of the Kumeyaay Nation, whose people continue to have an important and thriving presence in the region.
When Stan Rodriguez began his doctoral degree in education studies at UC San Diego three years ago, he sought out the Native American community on campus. As a member of the Santa Ysabel Band of Iipay Nation, a northern Kumeyaay tribe, he found friendship, mentorship and academic resources at the newly opened Intertribal Resource Center.
“As Native Americans, our numbers are small on campus,” said Rodriguez. “The Intertribal Resource Center is a place to go for fellowship and to connect with others on the same path. It has been one of the pivotal parts in my ability to navigate the university and succeed in my degree program.”
The Intertribal Resource Center was established by the university in response to a student movement that called for stronger presence and awareness of Native Americans, as well as other underrepresented groups, on campus. The Native American Student Alliance, a campus undergraduate organization, led a student-run community space until the center was officially inaugurated in 2016.
“It provides a central place for the Native community on campus, a place to be safe,” said Burgundy Fletcher ’17, an ethnic studies graduate student and citizen of the Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma. “Here I have found some of my best friends; they are like my family.”
Located in Price Center, the space has developed into a hub for community building for all students, staff and faculty. “You don’t have to be a Native American to use the center,” said Rodriguez. “There is support for all; we encourage each other to succeed.”
From helping students plan the annual UC San Diego Powwow to hosting the Dream the Impossible Native Youth Conference and supporting youth at local reservations, the campus’s newest resource center grows in impact each year.
Learn more at itrc.ucsd.edu.