What’s left: After losing community, home, and sense of self through poverty and displacement

Plan Author

  • Caitlin Mazzarella, 2018

Fields of Concentration

Sample Courses

  • Course: Writing Seminar: Writing the First People
  • Course: Sex, Violence, Liberation
  • Tutorial: Political Theory and Personal Narrative
  • Tutorial: Readings in Feminist and Queer Theory

Faculty Sponsors

Outside Evaluator

  • Miriam Dror, Psychotherapist and human development educators


This Plan is composed of a personal narrative titled “Just Trying to Go Home,” a paper reflecting on a collaborative book project about participating in the No Dakota Access Pipeline movement at Standing Rock, and a Research paper about the effect of boarding schools on the Lakota community. It also includes an Art Show titled “What’s Left” that was accompanied by a sound piece of ambient sounds and music.


Bright mornings are usually when my favorite memories surface. It’s the warm touch of light that keeps me calm enough to listen and wait. I am always waiting for the sun rise, staring towards the east with fists clenched or pacing on edge of my dreams. I feel returned to my body after a dark night that turns into a golden morning. I focus on the speckled light that climbs my skin, listening to the lonely mourning dove call and fade away, feeling my breath release from my chest. It is in these moments, that the feeling of home is almost within reach.

i don’t fit in anywhere without you
i am only an outline
i can be traced but not filled in
Fill me in
With colors, feelings, memories
Those soft, silky fingers are sure to replace this emptiness with
Your touch
Fill me in with your touch and i might be able to
Feel again

This was an incredible opportunity for me as an academic and as an inspiring book maker myself to have participated in this process. Although, I was hesitant to join at first because why should a person who isn’t Native be working on a project that is about Native lives and experiences?…I keep going because if I wasn’t participating I wouldn’t be constantly learning. I am able to share what I learn with other white people in my life who are also taking up space and ask them to reflect these same questions with more of an understanding of why and how.

Without the boarding school, Frieda would not have had such a clear idea of the effects of capitalism and individualism the boarding schools had on her community: “It’s the capitalism that drives us apart.” Frieda described how boarding schools not only failed to secure good jobs, they also undermined traditional values with individualism. The idea of working separately and competing with one another did not make any sense to Frieda or the people in her tribe. She and others were taught to engage in capitalism by getting an education and jobs like the rest of the US. “We’ve tried, but we were and are so divided.”


Thinking critically, emotionally, and artistically worked best for me at Marlboro. The structure of the school, including the professors I worked with, let me do just that. I worked in ways that felt safe and I challenged myself to push my body and my mind in directions that intimidated me.