The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Representing Native communities

Azul Sordo/The Collegian TR student Leialani McDuffie highlights her Quechan reservation’s traditions and talks about representation issues for Native communities in America.

TR student celebrates indigenous heritage by honoring traditions, advocating Native issues

maddy reminGton
managing editor

Azul Sordo/The Collegian

Leialani McDuffie is a TR campus student of Native American descent.

McDuffie is one of the many students at TCC with a diverse background. With Indigenous People’s day being celebrated this week, it’s a fitting reminder to celebrate the students of our college community and amplify their voices.

McDuffie grew up on the Quechan reservation, formerly known as the Fort Yuma Indian Reservation, which borders Arizona, California and Baja California, Mexico. 

The Quechan reservation is a part of the Colorado River Indian Tribes.

She lived on the Quechan reservation for 10 years before moving to Fort Worth with her family for job opportunities. 

“I do miss the Bird singers and dancers,” she said. “They sing songs, or more like telling stories through singing, and the dancers dance to the songs dressed in ribbon dresses.” 

Ribbon dresses are their traditional wear. 

“It is a very beautiful experience,” she said. 

Her identity plays a crucial role in her life because she said she wants to strive to be the best possible version of herself to represent her people well.

She plans to attend medical school after she graduates to become a medical examiner. 

She said being a Native American doctor is a significant accomplishment for her because Native American women don’t often go into medicine. 

She hopes to bring recognition and representation to Native American women in medicine and show that success is possible no matter someone’s cultural identity.

McDuffie wishes to make her family proud of her venture into the world of forensic pathology.

“It’d be a really cool thing for not only me, but my family and my culture just to say that I’m that successful,” McDuffie said.

McDuffie is also Hispanic, and she said her Hispanic heritage was the dominant culture in her childhood. However, now that she’s an adult, she is seeking ways to get more connected with her Native American heritage as well.

McDuffie said she puts a major emphasis on Native American traditions. She sees the traditional aspect of her culture as a defining characteristic. 

“Tradition is really big to us in everything that we do,” McDuffie said. 

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