My name is Chelsea Hallam. My mother’s family is Klamath, Modoc and Yahooskin and my father’s family is German. Growing up my mother would take my brother and me to the annual Klamath Tribes Restoration Celebration and talk about when she was young and lived close to all her relatives. Family has always been at the heart of my growth and after graduating high school, I decided to come to Portland for the Indigenous Nations Studies program to stay close to family.
When I first began at Portland State University I struggled to find my place academically and within the community. After a few challenging terms I enrolled in a course taught by Professor Grace Dillon. At that point I found my way into the Indigenous Studies Program and family. It is with many thanks and much gratitude that I am here four years later graduating with a major in English and a minor in Indigenous Nations Studies. In the summer, I will begin the American Indian Teaching Program with the goal of teaching culturally diverse Language Arts to high school or middle school youth. I am excited to work with youth and their family. I hope to eventually teach within the Klamath community.
Throughout my time at Portland State the Native Student and Community Center has been a second home to me, giving me support and the opportunity to support others. Participating in the United Indian Students in Higher Education, attending community events, lectures, and developing relationships with those around me has allowed me to have a strong base and stay engaged.
There are so many people and moments that brought me to this place and I am sincerely grateful for everyone. I wish to thank the INST facility, staff and family who are committed to learning and working together. They have taught me not only tradition but what it means to relate to one another. Thank you to Grace Dillon who has unflaggingly encouraged me every step of the way, you are quick to share your warmth and humor. To Judy Bluehorse Skelton, I’m so thankful for all you have taught me. I also extend my deep gratitude and warmth to Alina, Dean, Melissa and my coworkers at NASCC. This past year I have received so much encouragement, good spirit and welcoming energy, I hope I have been able to give a thimbleful in return.
Lastly, I wish to acknowledge my mom, brother and grandmother who have continually taught me what it means to be resilient, loving and embedded in the world around me.