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The News Site of Fresno City College

The Rampage Online

The News Site of Fresno City College

The Rampage Online

Club Focus: The Native American Inter-Tribal Association

Photo by: Anthony Corda
The marble Yokuts Monument stands in Yokuts Plaza on Aug. 30, 2023. The writing on the stone talks about the Yokuts and Mono Tribes whose land the college was built on.

Fresno City College’s Yokuts Plaza has more meaningful weight behind it than the physical landmark on campus.

Jasmine Markie Bill, a double major in anthropology and American Indian Studies, is in her third semester as president of the Native American Inter-tribal Student Association (NAISA). To her, the Yokuts Monument is certainly more than just a landmark.

“That’s my heritage, my ancestors, you know, the people that came before me,” Bill said.

Bill’s heritage includes both the Mono and Yokuts Tribes. The tribes are native to the San Joaquin as well as the Sierra Foothills as the monument states.

She said NAISA helped her find support and community as a first-time student.

As president of the association, she hopes to do the same for younger generations who are new to college.

NAISA thrives on community and bringing Indigenous as well as non-Indigenous students together to help them develop leadership and social skills, as well as help with students getting to know other Indigenous and non-Indigenous students for the purpose of achieving positive goals in the community together.

Bill said with the community support she has found in NAISA, her college experience has been great. At first, it was a lonely road, but now, she’s certain that she will be successful.

“Having support around you and a sense of belonging and community I feel has been awesome for me,” Bill said.

Based on her observations as club advisor for NAISA, Alexandra Gonzales, who has been the club’s advisor since 2017, said that the club strengthens, validates and supports the future American Indian students for their present and future roles in both the Native American community and the community at large.

“Affecting change and influencing the institution by sharing and educating those around us of our gifts, contributions, relatability, and best practices.” Gonzales said.

NAISA meetings are open to everyone, regardless of cultural background. If they decide to join the club, students will get access to beneficial resources.

NAISA works along with the Resources for American Indian Needs organization (RAIN). Gonzales is also the person in charge of RAIN.

“The program’s purpose is to provide a support system for American Indian and Indigenous people of the Americas but is open to all students,” Gonzales said.

“Students will improve study skills, obtain tools for successful transition into college and/or vocational training opportunities.”

Gonzales said students can look forward to a collaborative atmosphere in which students will become valued voices and members of their student population while still maintaining their individual identity.

She said that students are expected to enroll into a Counseling 150 course, American Indian course and also have the option to take an English 1A class that centers around content from Native American authors. This is all in addition to a student’s major/GE course for two consecutive semesters.

Gonzales said those students are honored with an end-of-the-year dinner in Spring for having participated in the RAIN program. RAIN graduates receive their Native graduation stoles in ceremony during the event.

NAISA has a booth at Club Rush and also hosts Earth Day events in April. Last spring, they had elders from the community come and speak to bring awareness about the history, culture, and current issues that the Native American community faces.

NAISA members posed and photographed around the Yokuts Monument at the Earth Day event on April 20, 2023. From left to right: Diego Rivera, Jasmine Markie Bill, Vice President Jordan Danielle Clark, Nicole Victoria Wells. (Photo by: Michael Lin)

These issues ranged from water rights to the renaming of what is now appropriately named Yokuts Valley.

NAISA meetings are held on Tuesdays at 3:30 p.m., but they are open to working around students’ schedules.

This semester, NAISA plans to incorporate some fun club days where students can go and learn to bead and attend a drum circle, events hosted and funded by the Fresno Native American Health Project, an organization that specializes in Sacred Circles and spiritual healing.

“I guess what I just want people to know is that we’re definitely here for wellness,” Bill said, “We want to create a safe space for everyone to come and just be themselves.”

Some upcoming NAISA events include California Indian Day on September 22 in Yokuts Plaza from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. as well as another Earth Day event during which four elders will speak on cultural topics and a Native Poet will do a poetry reading.

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About the Contributor
Anthony Corda
Anthony Corda, Reporter
Anthony Corda is 36 years old and currently enrolled in the Journalism for Transfer program at Fresno City College with the intent to transfer to Fresno State University in the spring. Originally born in Wichita Falls, Texas, Anthony has been a resident of Washington State as well as Alaska before settling in Fresno, California in 1997. Anthony currently works as a marketing analyst with a focus on mass communications and journalism. He also works as a documenter for The pursuit of knowledge, information and social justice have always been the cornerstone of his passions. Since 2016, he has come to realize the vitality of ethical news reporting and he hopes to somehow leave his mark in the world by way of his prose with the intention of building bridges instead driving wedges. Some of his interests include pop culture, the horror genre, music, film, books, as well as anything that is part of a synthwave aesthetic. He has recently taken up painting and collage making and loves the fighting game genre. Street Fighter VI is where he currently showcases his skills. He has been a casual, yet competitive fighting game player since his childhood. Other games he enjoys include the Fallout series as well as the Elder Scrolls series and Resident Evil. Some of his favorite films include the Halloween franchise, The Paranormal Activity franchise, The Exorcist, Grandma’s Boy, Mrs. Doubtfire, The 40-Year-Old Virgin and pretty much anything done by Judd Apatow and/or Seth Rogen.

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