Steven Whitfield Prepares to Share Native Heritage with the World

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By: Hallie Long

Stephen Whitfield on a camel in Egypt. Steven Whitfield on a camel in Egypt

Steven Whitfield, a senior student in the Elementary Education program here at Haskell, who is Laguna Pueblo and Chickasaw, is planning on going abroad to teach after graduation. His previous adventures took him all over the world from Central America to Europe to the Middle East. Steven has jumped off cliffs in New York state, boarded down an active volcano in Nicaragua, and has skydived several times. I asked him about his life, “I just love to experience other cultures and chase thrills. I think life is about experiences rather than monetary possessions.”

When asked why he decided to go abroad and teach rather than heading home he had this to say, “I always loved traveling the world. I now have the opportunity to be an educator thanks to Haskell Indian Nations University, combing my two passions, educating youth and traveling the world.” Steven plans to teach in Vietnam for 7 months, travel around Asia, and then teach another year in Santiago, Chile. I asked Steven why Vietnam of all places? “In Vietnam, I can make enough to save in a part of the world where saving can be difficult. Vietnam’s cost of living is also super low, plus jobs are way more bountiful than in any other country in Southeast Asia.”

Steven mentioned how sharing his culture with others around the world helps in defeating stereotypes and caricatures that he has experienced in many countries. “In Europe, many see us as a fairy tale type character, as if we really don’t exist anymore. Only living in movies and TV.” He continued, “In Istanbul, they have Native American’s in TV and advertisements everywhere. When I talked to people about being Native American, they’re usually surprised to see I don’t have a headdress in my backpack.” Steven has also had a poem published in the Tribal College Journal entitled, 200 MPH Unicorn where he details his experience riding the train from Paris to London and conversing with an English woman who doesn’t understand what a Native American really is.

Steven Whitfield is graduating from Haskell Indian Nations University on a journey that appears to be unlike any other Haskell graduate and looks to spread Native culture to places around the world. When he arrives in Vietnam, he will be teaching 7-10 year old students English as well as sharing his culture with young minds. #OnwardHaskell