Gavin Zempel, ’24
Hometown: Redwood Falls, Minnesota
Studies: Native American Studies and Psychology with a minor in English, University of Minnesota Morris
Scholarship: Ernest Kemble Scholarship
I am a Bdewakantunwan Dakota or Santee Dakota from the Lower Sioux Indian community in southwestern Minnesota. When I was in high school, I always knew I wanted to go to college, but being that I am a first-generation college student, I never was told what going to college meant and what that would entail. That being said, I always knew I wanted to do research to help my community.
About that research:
My research project is called Indigenous Language Revitalization in the Lower Sioux Indian Community. I was interested in doing this specific project because it's a continuation of my upbringing and my own interest before ever getting into college. I grew up being taught where my people are, who my people are, and to be proud in that, and part of that too was learning my language. I had started learning my language on my own as a 14-, 15-year-old. I knew bits and pieces just from being in the community.
On sharing the findings:
At UMN Morris’ Undergraduate Research Symposium, I got to share all about my community, all about our language, our beautiful language, the Santee dialect of the Dakota language, and I'm also getting to share about a lot of the amazing things that native people have done in Polynesia, South America, North America, as well as my own community to revitalize their language. A lot of these efforts are very grassroots, bottom up.
I applied and I was accepted for UROP (Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program). It will be about my family history at Pipestone Indian School and boarding school through a familial and tribal perspective. So through the eyes of my family and/or my specific tribe. It hasn't been done nearly as widely as it should have because a lot of communities have very different and very unique histories and experiences with boarding schools, and I think it's important to articulate that, especially for my own community.
Support students like Gavin Zempel by giving to the Morris Academic eXperiences (MAX) Fund.