November 24, 2015
By Jasmine Demers, Tukwut Life Marketing Assistant
Autumn Brown is a proud Native American student who, in her first year at CSUSM, is making an effort to emphasize the importance of cultural awareness among her peers.
The psychology major is from the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians in Alpine, Calif. In August 2015 she was crowned Miss Kumeyaay Nation, chosen for the honor by a panel of former queens and elders who felt that she would best represent the Kumeyaay people and culture. Autumn lives up to these responsibilities by continually showcasing her tribe's values and reaching out to her peers in order to help create a community that is aware and united.
Why did you choose CSUSM?
I chose CSUSM because it’s close to my family (about an hour away), so I can go home whenever and still attend some cultural events. I also chose this University because the campus is very diverse, and the people here are genuinely nice and friendly.
Which organization are you involved in on campus? How has being involved helped you grow during your first semester at CSUSM?
I am a member of the American Indian Student Alliance club which works hand-in-hand with the California Indian Culture and Sovereignty Center. Being involved with this club helps me connect with other Native American students and reaffirm my identity. I feel apart of an extension of the CSUSM community.
Can you tell me about your Native American roots? How important is this history to you and how has being Native American impacted who you are?
I am from the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians, where I was raised all my life. The history is important because we have a responsibility to ensure that our Nation stays intact and that we continue to teach future generations. My ancestors have struggled, sacrificed and given their lives so that my people can carry on. To not honor them by living the best life possible—holding onto our culture, language and sharing what we know—would be disrespectful. I am forever grateful for the teachings of my family and community. Their knowledge has placed within me a great sense of love, pride and respect for my people. It is this that I will pass on to the next generation.
How did it feel to have the opportunity to represent the Kumeyaay tribe? Can you tell me a little bit more about this and about your experience in holding the title of Miss Kumeyaay Nation?
Getting the opportunity to represent the Kumeyaay Nation is such an honor because I get to meet new people, share my culture and be a positive role model for the tribal youth. Since my crowning in August I have been on the go every weekend and sometimes attend events during the week as well. I’ve been apart of many powwows and gatherings, some in California and some in Arizona. Holding this title gives me an opportunity to connect with people and build strong relations throughout our Native and non-Native communities.
What are your future goals?
In the future I hope to get my Ph.D. in psychology so I can be a child psychologist. I love working with kids and being around them. When I receive my doctorate I hope to bring that knowledge and experience back to my reservation where I can help the kids within my tribal community.