In November 2012, Anthropology PhD students including Adam Haviland, Marie Schaefer, Kehli Henry, Nikki Silva, and Mike Cavanaugh, and law students from the Indigenous Law Program, including Sarah Donnelly, Nellie David and John Simermeyer, started a new graduate student organization at MSU for American Indian/indigenous students and other students interested in indigenous issues and scholarship. They created the Indigenous Graduate Student Collective (IGSC) to provide a space to collaborate, debate, and address common issues for graduate students working on indigenous issues across the University.
The founding members were also inspired by a meeting with the University of Toronto Native Students Association, organized by Dr. Heather Howard in October 2011. Marie Schaefer explains, “We were inspired by their organization and the work they do to bring a similar group to life on MSU’s campus.” While MSU already had an indigenous undergraduate student group, the North American Indigenous Student Organization, graduate students felt it was important to have a group to support their distinct experience as graduate students. As Sarah Donnelly explains “It’s easy to just focus on school work and forget why we came to school in the first place: to help our tribe. The Native American Law Student Association (NALSA) and other native student organizations are a great way to collaborate and find support over native issues as well.”
Since its founding the collective has worked on building connections with indigenous graduate students across campus. According to former member Victoria Sweet, “What I think is so valuable about this particular group is the potential it has for building strong inter-departmental connections. Sometimes those connections are hard to make because we are all so busy with our own coursework and research that we don’t make the time to reach out. Bringing the strengths of the various graduate programs together will only improve the quality of the conversation about American Indian issues on campus and provide greater opportunities for all students involved.” The mission of the IGSC is to promote indigenous scholarship and camaraderie among graduate students while building campus and community connections. One of the many objectives of the IGSC is to offer learning opportunities and to forge partnerships and community ties. In order to meet the needs of its members, IGSC has held a number of events including a symposium and an all day writing workshop, and faculty fry bread forums where members are able to ask questions of AISP faculty from across campus about graduate school and research while eating homemade fry bread.
If you are interested in learning more about the IGSC you can visit their website at: www.msuigsc.weebly.com or email them at: firstname.lastname@example.org