UCR Program Introduces Native American High School Students to University Life

Annual Gathering of the Tribes encourages academic success, college degree

NASP logoRIVERSIDE, Calif. — The University of California, Riverside will welcome 30 Native American high school students to the campus this month in an eight-day program that will introduce them to college life.

Gathering of the Tribes, which begins on Sunday, June 22, is the longest-running program of its kind in Southern California. The event, which began at UCR in 2005, invites Native American students to experience life in a residence hall and the classroom, and provides information about admissions and financial aid requirements and deadlines.

Parents will drop off their students on June 22 and participate in an orientation lunch. Throughout the week students will attend classes in video production and creative writing, participate in various exercise and recreation activities, and hear from motivational speakers, career counselors, and advisors on how to apply for admission to college and financial aid. They also will practice writing personal essays based on prompts contained in the UC application.

“We develop a dialogue among the students and empower them to give back to their communities and be leaders,” said Josh Gonzales, director of Native American Student Programs at UCR.

“UC Riverside has a special obligation to teach the next generation of leaders among our Native Nations, which in turn will help preserve and protect tribal sovereignty,” said Cliff Trafzer, distinguished professor of history, Rupert Costo Chair in American Indian Affairs, and director of the California Center for Native Nations at UCR. “Gathering of the Tribes is one way we introduce American Indian students to university life and the joy of learning.”

students at UCR sign

Students participating in Gathering of the Tribes in 2013 pose for a picture after a campus tour.

New to the program this year is an overnight trip to the Cahuilla reservation near Anza, about 35 miles southwest of Palm Springs, where the students will learn about Cahuilla traditions through songs, language and games.

“Some of the students who participate in Gathering of the Tribes live in cities and don’t understand what it’s like to live on a reservation or have a strong cultural connection,” Gonzales said. “Others come from reservations and can’t imagine not having that connection.”

Some of the students admitted to the program this year are from Arizona and New Mexico; most are from southern California. Their tribal affiliations represent nations from local tribes and across several states, including Yaqui, Tejon, Pima, Apache, Lummi, Navajo, Oglala Lakota, and Chemehuevi.

Nearly all of the 300-plus students who have participated in the program since 2005 have gone on to some form of college, which is one of the objectives of this highly successful program, Gonzales said.

Gathering of the Tribes is sponsored by Native American Student Programs and the Native American Education Program, a UCR chancellor’s initiative intended to encourage American Indian students and parents to embrace higher education.

Media Contact


Tel: (951) 827-7847
E-mail: bettye.miller@ucr.edu
Twitter: bettyemiller

Additional Contacts

Joshua Gonzales
Tel: (951) 827-4143
E-mail: joshua.gonzales@ucr.edu

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