Name: Charlie Scott
Concentration: Sociology and Ethnic Studies
Charlie has done research through the Sociology department and the Royce Fellowship. Read on to hear about Charlie’s experiences with archival research on the path to graduate school.
What kind of research experiences, internships, or fellowships have you been involved with during college?
During my first year I was involved with a research project lead by a professor in the Sociology Department, and this past summer (2016), I had the wonderful privilege of receiving the Royce Fellowship, which allowed me to stay on my reservation, the Navajo Nation, for a summer and conduct archival research.
How have these experiences shaped your goals and plans for the future?
As I am applying for graduate school, I wrote that “my primary goals are encouraging the educational system to be accessible to Indigenous scholars and to be inclusive to their knowledges and traditions.” My research experiences, especially the one funded by the Royce Fellowship, showed me what a limiting view the West has had of my own indigenous communities’ knowledges and traditions. The archival research I was doing was often violent because it was my own ancestral knowledge that was being examined and disregarded. Yet, being involved in a research project of my own creation allowed me to realize how much I still enjoyed learning and how much I enjoyed challenging age old assumptions that continue to this day, especially when I am centering indigenous knowledges and understandings.
What was your favorite part of or an interesting story about a research experience, internship, or fellowship you participated in?
I think my favorite part of my project was being able to go to Washington, D.C. and visit the Library of Congress. My reservation had the knowledges and traditions, but they didn’t have the archives of photographs that I was seeking for my project. I remember going into the photography archive at the Library of Congress and I was looking at a photograph, taken by Edward Curtis, of whom I am assuming is a Diné (Navajo) women weaving on a loom that was in front of a tree. The loom was made of branches and rocks. It must have been tied together with rope. I remember this photograph because I was amazed at the resourcefulness of the structure of the loom. My mother weaves and she was taught by my great-grandmother on my father’s side, and so I grew up with a modern structure of a loom in my household made of wood and nails. Replaced by a loom of metal and bolts. For a brief moment, as I was reaching to a past through the photograph, the photograph was reaching out to me.
Do you have any advice for students looking to potentially pursue opportunities similar to what you’ve pursued?
I think the advice I can provide for folks who are interested in research is to ensure that the research that you’re involved with or are interested in is one that you enjoy engaging with. If anything, my Royce Fellowhsip research experience reminded me of a value my mother instilled within me; na’nitin jidindzin – the enthusiasm for learning. My research project, and now my thesis project, is embedded with my own enthusiasm and passion because I love what I am writing about. It makes the process of thesis writing much more bearable, yet exciting at the same time. Enjoying research and actually liking the research, makes the research much more profound and invigorating.