ASU INSPIRE Summer Camp Hosts Native Youth

July 15, 2022



Kyle Knox

Managing Editor


This summer, three Gila River Indian Community youths attended INSPIRE at the ASU main campus in Tempe, a weeklong camp June 20-24 sponsored by ASU’s Office of American Indian Initiatives. The goal is to increase college access by introducing students to the campus, creating opportunities for students and fostering understanding of the process to attend college.


“By experiencing the college life, we hope they create friendships and take away the necessary tools to prepare for the future,” said Annabell Bowen, Director for the Office of the President on American Indian Initiatives.


Community members Ami Hernandez, District 5, Diondre Palmer, District 6, and Alexiana Goldtooth, District 6, attended this year’s in-person camp after a two-year hiatus due to COVID.  This year was the first time for each student, and they said they enjoyed everything INSPIRE had to offer.


“I came this year to get the college experience and explore different colleges within ASU. And I wanted to learn from ASU students and the resources they have to offer,” said Hernandez. During the week, she took a beading class and liked the cultural activities.  She said, “I’ve been wanting to learn to bead, so I think it was cool that they let us learn a new skill.”


Palmer was excited to meet new people, and said, “I think it’s a cool experience here because it’s interesting to learn about your culture and other Native American youth and their cultures here.” However, he also noted that it challenges him socially, stating, “being here definitely tests our social and public speaking skills because they always want us to introduce ourselves.”


This year INSPIRE hosted 105 students from across the state and offered five learning communities based on each student’s interest. Students were divided into groups focusing on STEM, arts and design, health solutions, law, business, and Indigenous leadership.


Sahmie Joshevama, Office of American Indian Initiatives coordinator, said, “We had a great group of students this year who were eager, engaged and ready to learn. It was beautiful to watch friendships foster and see the growth in the students throughout the week.”


New for INSPIRE this year was the collaboration with local organizations for more programming.  This year was the first time working with Phoenix Indian Center to assist in facilitating the Indigenous Leadership Learning Community.  They also introduced new cultural activities, including arts and painting by Deonoveigh Mitchell of Kaallogii Kisses, beading by Tahnee Baker, ribbon skirt bag making by Kevin Duncan, traditional and contemporary singing by Sampson Sinquah, and drum making by Phoenix Indian Center.


Goldtooth would advise GRIC youth to attend next summer. “INSPIRE was a really good learning experience…. And not only that, but just there’s so many different cultures here that you get to interact with that you don’t even know about, and I think that’s the best part.”