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Travis senior shares culture with community

Dakota Travis SeniorWhen Dakota Osife exhibits at powwows, her chosen dance is Jingle Dress. The healing dance comes from Ojibwe tradition, and Dakota's father picked it for her when she first began dancing. 

She tried other dances, but returned to Jingle Dress. 

“There was something about Jingle Dress that brings me back — the significance of it being a healing dance,” Osife said. “I think it is the style that suits me best.” 

The Travis Early College High School senior has spent most of her life proudly and publicly sharing her Native American heritage through dance and other cultural activities. An enrolled member of the Navajo/Diné Nation, she is also a committee member of the local organization United San Antonio Powwow. 

She was the first Native American youth ambassador to the Briscoe Western Art Museum and her pictures were featured on the billboard for their first ever Yanaguana Indian Market when she was still in elementary school at Arnold Elementary. She and her family were featured dancers for Patty Mills at the First Indigenous Night for the San Antonio Spurs. They've also shared their culture at the Institute of Texan Cultures and the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Theater. 

Dakota and her parents returned to her former middle school, Whittier, last spring for the school’s cultural night, where she and her family displayed traditional dances used at powwows. Identifying as Navajo and Mexican, she says exhibiting her Indigenous culture at local events makes her feel whole. 

“I feel proud,” Osife said. “Here in San Antonio, there is predominantly Hispanic culture, so displaying my Indigenous roots and connecting my two worlds together, I feel is very important.” 

Osife, a College Board Class of 2023 National Indigenous Recognition Awardee, says she tries to bring Native culture to the forefront of discussion. 

“There’s a misconception that Native Americans are not here anymore, and that Native Americans don’t exist anywhere except Arizona and Oklahoma,” she said. “A lot of families move out for more opportunity. We are just like everyone else. We can all look at the culture and appreciate it together.” 

Over the years she’s had a lot of support from her SAISD family. Back at Arnold Elementary, Anna Ramos, Dakota’s fourth grade teacher, drove all the way to Laredo to be there for Dakota at her first Princess crowning ceremony, something that really impacted her entire family. 

“As a mom, you love it when teachers love your kids as much as you do,” Dakota’s mom Jennifer Osife said. “It makes your heart happy.” 

Whittier sixth grade world cultures teacher Sarah Carrola has also been to Dakota’s powwows. Other teachers in Dakota’s path at both Whittier and Travis have encouraged her academic excellence, as she prepares to take the next steps in her academic career. A member of the National Honor Society, the National Hispanic Honor Society, and Mu Alpha Theta at Travis, as well as the Honors Academy and Phi Theta Kappa at San Antonio College, Osife plans to attend the University of Texas Austin and major in Mathematics and Finance.  

“My ultimate goal is to be able to give back by teaching Financial Literacy in Native, Indigenous and Latino communities,” Dakota said.

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