SOLES Celebrates Native American Heritage Month: Ronald "J.R." Riggs Jr.

Ronald "J.R." Riggs Jr.

To honor Native American History Month, Ronald "J.R." Riggs Jr. shares his thoughts on the importance of teaching the history of Natives. J.R. is currently a student in the Master of Education program with a focus on STEAM. 

What are your preferred name and pronouns?
Ronald "J.R." Riggs Jr., he/him
What Tribal Nation are you a part of?
I am Cupeno from Pala, California. I am a member of the Owlinguish and LaChusa family line and the grandson of Manuella Jane Sanger.
Why do you feel it's important to recognize Native American Heritage Month?
Our current education system speaks of us Natives in the past tense as if we are all dead and gone. Because of this, it is very important for the world to know that we continue to exist so that our children do not continue to suffer from fragmented cultural identity, knowing there is a place in the world for them. 
How do you honor American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month?
For me, I honor my heritage every day as I share the teachings of my elders and our customs with my students. 
Who is someone of Native American heritage that inspires you?
My grandmother, Manuella Jane Sanger. She dedicated her entire life to taking care of others and always pushed me to pursue my dreams. She believed that family comes first and that everyone deserves to eat. When she had it all, she shared everything she had to give. When she had nothing, she shared everything she had left to give. 
What do you hope is accomplished during the month of celebration and recognition? 
I would love to see tribes return to the ways of the old, where everyone takes care of one another and nobody is left to fend for themselves. I would love to return to a time where blood quanta didn't decide who was family and who was not. I would love to feel as proud about my heritage now as I did before casinos and money changed my people.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
A quote from an old legend from the original people of Kupa..."Kisily Pewish has come back to his home!"


Amanda Gonzales
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