A NAIS Internship in the Community: i Aquino and her Experience with Great Promise for American Indians

Tue, March 6, 2018
A NAIS Internship in the Community: i Aquino and her Experience with Great Promise for American Indians
Clayton Bass leads the Snake Dance during Pioneer Days at the Pound House.

During the Fall 2017 semester, UT anthropology senior and NAIS certificate student i Aquino completed an internship in community building and culture programming with Great Promise for American Indians. This organization, based in Austin, states that their mission is “to preserve the traditions, heritage and culture of American Indians, […] to support the health and education needs of their youth and families, [...] to honor the past, and to ensure the future.” i spent the semester interning and collaborating with the organization in planning and executing the Texas American Indian Heritage Day and the Austin Powwow. The narrative below is i's reflection on her internship experience.

Completing an internship with Great Promise for American Indians (GPAI) has been one of the most valuable experiences I have had since attending The University of Texas at Austin, which was made possible because of the Program in Native American and Indigenous Studies. An internship with this important, local, non-profit organization, provides an opportunity to engage with the leaders of GPAI and the native community, in myriad ways, which facilitates a deeper, more practical understanding of the knowledge and education one receives from UT.

Much of the work with GPAI revolved primarily around two major annual events: the Texas American Indian Heritage Day celebration, held the last Friday in September at the Bullock State History Museum, and the Austin Powwow, which is held the first Saturday in November.  In one semester, I observed and worked both in and out of the office with event planning and organizing, marketing and advertising, public relations and networking, sponsorships and grants, volunteer coordination, tabling, communication, and documentation.  I was also fortunate enough to be involved in GPAI board meetings, and present for meetings with the Bullock Museum and iHeartRadio.

I thoroughly enjoyed working with GPAI during events that engaged directly with the broader community, as they shared Native American culture through song, dance, crafts, food and stories.  Pioneer Day at the Pound House Farmstead and Museum in Dripping Springs, and the annual Sacred Springs Powwow in San Marcos, were two positively, memorable outdoor events.  I also participated in fundraising with GPAI at Painting With A Twist, and Chuck a Puck at the Texas Stars Hockey game, and attended GPAI Culture Day/Night and potluck.  I even attempted a Native American dance class.

All of these events would not be possible without the amazing people who contribute their time and energy to GPAI.  Working with the leadership of GPAI was the most fulfilling aspect of the entire experience.  They were so open, kind, knowledgeable, helpful and welcoming from the very beginning.  The discussions we had and the relationships that formed have furthered my personal growth and development as an Anthropology student, but more importantly, as a human being.

Photo credit: i Aquino

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