The Indian Leader is celebrating students and recent alumni who are taking their education and skillsets and applying them to their Tribal Communities. One such student is Michael King who graduates this semester, and has just been elected President of the San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe.
Please give Your name, Tribe(s), and community
My name is Michael Nick King. I am an enrolled member of the San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe. I also am Diné (Navajo) and Southern Ute. I come from a small community called Navajo Mountain, Utah.
What inspired you to run for such a position?
I wanted to run for my tribal council because as students, we have always been taught that we are the leaders and that we should return to our homes and contribute to our tribal communities after receiving a degree in our special fields. I have always wanted to help contribute to my community, but I wanted to be sure I had the knowledge and credentials to be qualify me for the position. I’ve always wanted to help better my tribal community and my people. We always want to see opportunities and successes come to our people; And rather than hope and want these things, I put my aspirations for the tribe to action and decided that if there is to be change for the better, that I would have to step up and be that change.
What are your thoughts on young educated Indigenous professionals stepping up and taking active roles in their tribal councils and/or tribal communities?
I have seen many educated Native professionals encouraged to continue onwards in higher education. We are showered with messages of encouragement in obtaining a university degree and seek higher education. Young Indigenous professionals and graduates return home to help their respective communities only to be discouraged and turned away. That is the reality but those who have the strength will persevere. Despite the discouragement from some, I overlooked it because I saw the overall picture of what I can strive to do to help my tribal community as a whole. I commend every Indigenous student out there, because it is our education that is a valuable asset that will help us to achieve greater things for our tribal communities when we put that knowledge along with our aspirations into action. It is so reassuring to see educated Indigenous taking active roles in their tribal communities. It reassures to our communities the wellbeing and status of tribes for the future generations to come.
Any words of advice for current students looking to go into a similar career path?
Some advice. I would say keep going! If you have the will and the passion to want to achieve or do something, I say do it. It’s up to you. It starts with you. You have more control and power than you realize to make a difference for the better.
Tuu Aiyuhk‘! (Thank you!)