Indigenous Students

This includes but is not limited to: registered and non-registered U.S. tribal communities, First Nations Peoples, Alaskan Natives, Native Hawaiians, and members of other underrepresented indigenous populations.


A large nation of North American indigenous people found in Canada and the U.S., specifically in the region around Lakes Superior and Huron but extending as far as Saskatchewan and North Dakota. Ojibwe people are also sometimes referred to as Chippewa or Anishinaabe.


Smudging is a purification ceremony where any one or a combination of sacred medicines (some of which are listed below) are lit with a match or lighter. When lit, the burning medicines will produce smoke and a distinct scent is given off. The smoke is drawn over the individual(s) or area to release negative energy, create a positive mindset, and to ground or connect the individual to their teachings and culture. Smudging is always performed voluntarily and may be done in the context of ceremony or for teaching purposes. The smoke and scent produced during a smudge is minimal and often dissipates quickly.

First Nations

First Nations is a term used to describe the indigenous peoples of Canada who are ethnically neither Métis nor Inuit. This term came into common usage in the 1970s and ‘80s and generally replaced the term “Indian,” although unlike “Indian,” the term “First Nation” does not have a legal definition. While “First Nations” refers to the ethnicity of First Nations peoples, the singular “First Nation” can refer to a band, a reserve-based community, or a larger tribal grouping and the status Indians who live in them.

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Underrepresented Minority (URM) Student

The UW System defines URM students as anyone who identifies as: Native American/American Indian, African American, Hispanic/Latino, Southeast Asian of Vietnamese, Cambodian, Hmong or Laotian descent who entered the U.S. after 12/31/1975, and two or more races (either alone or as two or more race/ethnicities)


Decolonization, once viewed as the formal process of handing over the instruments of government, is now recognized as a long-term process involving the bureaucratic, cultural, linguistic and psychological divesting of colonial power.

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Inhabiting or existing in a land from the earliest times or from before the arrival of colonists. This word is similar to the word indigenous but mostly refers to the original people of Australia and New Zealand.


This term was often used to describe the indigenous peoples of North, Central and South America, especially those of North America. However, many Indigenous peoples from those areas don’t use this term anymore and it is often seen as derogatory or disrespectful.

Tribal Sovereignty

For many tribes, sovereignty means the ability to manage their own affairs and exist as nations that are recognized as having control over their own destinies. However, for the Federal Government, tribal sovereignty means that Native American tribes are “domestic dependent nations” that exist within the boundaries of the U.S. and that they are wards of the U.S., even though they may operate and manage some internal tribal affairs. From the U.S. viewpoint, tribes do not exist as truly sovereign and independent nations.


The definition of a treaty is an agreement or arrangement made by negotiation or a contract in writing between two or more political authorities (such as states or sovereign nations) formally signed by representatives who are properly authorized and usually approved by the lawmaking authority of the state. However, in the case of Native American treaties, history has ruled usually in the favor of the Federal Government.


Chippewa was the name that the government gave to the Ojibwe people instead of learning what the people called themselves and is really just a bastardization of the word Ojibwe. Most Ojibwe people do not refer to themselves as Chippewa and you will usually only see this word utilized in history books or governmental signs and documents. It is not usually seen as a respectful or appropriate term even though there are still handfuls of people who call themselves Chippewa.


Anishinaabe is the word that Ojibwe people often use to refer to themselves and other Ojibwe people. The word Anishinaabe actually means “original people” or “original man” and is a more respectful term to use when talking about Ojibwe people.

Historic Trauma

Complex and collective trauma experienced over time and across generations by a group of people who share an identity, affiliation, or circumstance (ex. Boarding Schools).

Historic Multigenerational Trauma

Trauma that happens to a large group of people in which traumas/trauma responses are passed to future generations.

Blood Memory

Often described as our ancestral (genetic) connection to our language, songs, spirituality, and teachings. Also, blood memory is described as the idea that significant/repeated trauma and negative experiences alter DNA.

Residential Schools / Boarding Schools

Residential school was the term primarily used in Canada to talk about government-supported boarding schools for children from indigenous communities. The definition of Boarding School that is used most often in regards to indigenous peoples is: a school in which students lived, away from their homes and families, in order to be assimilated into the mainstream society.


Métis are people of mixed European and Indigenous ancestry, and one of the three recognized Aboriginal peoples in Canada. The use of the term Métis is complex and has different historical and contemporary meanings. The term is most often used to describe communities of mixed European and Indigenous descent across Canada, and a specific community of people — defined as the Métis Nation — which originated largely in Western Canada and emerged as a political force in the 19th century, radiating outwards from the Red River Settlement.

American Indian/Native American

Native American and American Indian are often used interchangeably. Both these terms are often defined as any member of the indigenous peoples who lived in North, Central, and South America before Europeans and other settlers arrived.