OU Native American student advocates for Indigenous inclusion, strives to help community, make change
Asa “Ace” Samuels, a senior at the University of Oklahoma majoring in biology and minoring in Native American studies, is an advocate for Indigenous people and hopes to inspire others with his work. As a member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes and a relative to the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, Samuels has experienced the challenges and under-representation faced by this community first-hand.
Over four years ago, Samuels struggled with alcoholism and was living in and out of his mother’s home. He lived job to job, but he got help and was inspired by the Osage people’s influence on Tallgrass prairie preserve in Osage County and the wildlife that thrived there. He realized the importance of preserving the natural world and culture, which became his driving force to educate and help others.
Samuels is now involved in many organizations on campus and in the Indigenous community and is devoting his time to helping and educating people. However, Indigenous people are underrepresented everywhere. While over 500 Tribes are recognized in the U.S., there are over 300 others that are not. Less than 1 percent of all academic students are Indigenous, and only 28 percent of those Indigenous students actually graduate. As Mr. Indigenous OU, Samuels hopes to bring awareness to these factors and promote Indigenous inclusion.
Academics were not created with Indigenous people in mind. Samuels hopes to help them push past that and participate in the academic world. Samuels said that the traditional knowledge of Native people relates to all sorts of academic subjects, such as geography, astronomy, architecture, biology, botany, and agriculture. He said that Indigenous people have been studying and working on these topics for thousands of years, and their insight should be heard.
Subject of representation
Samuels said that the Indigenous community needs to be brought into more conversations at OU, especially when concerning athletics, homecoming, or Rah! Rally. He said that the Indigenous community should get to present themselves the way they want to, not the way OU wants them to. Samuels is a dancer, and said that dance is one of the ways he is able to tell his story and how other Indigenous people can as well. He said that Indigenous people deserve to display their culture in ways like that at OU.
Many misconceptions surround Indigenous communities. Some may still live traditional Native lifestyles, but many live like everyone else. Samuels said that OU needs to do a better job of putting that out there.
– Asa “Ace” Samuels is a senior at the University of Oklahoma majoring in biology and minoring in Native American studies.
– Samuels is a member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes and a relative to the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.
– Less than 1 percent of all academic students are Indigenous, and only 28 percent of those Indigenous students actually graduate.
The under-representation of Indigenous people, misconceptions, and lack of involvement in academic and non-academic activities is an issue that needs to be addressed. It is crucial to listen to the Indigenous community’s knowledge and understanding, and work together to incorporate it into different academic subjects and include them in different activities.
Asa “Ace” Samuels is an Indigenous student advocate for Indigenous inclusion. Samuels hopes to inspire others and help the Indigenous community address challenges and misconceptions. He believes that their knowledge and understanding should be incorporated into different academic subjects and involve them in different activities. It is crucial to address the under-representation of Indigenous people in academics and non-academic activities.