Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Identifying as Native American and Latino/a

edited September 2018 in Law School Admissions 335 karma

Hi everyone,

I identify predominantly as Latina (Mexican-American and Spanish) but I also identify somewhat as Native American because my father (whose family I do not know well because he passed away a long time ago) have a lot of Native American blood. Because I am not in touch with his side of the family, I wasn't even 100% sure that I was Native American until I did 23andme and it proved that I was nearly 40% Native American. I am still in the process of getting more in touch with my Native American heritage and thus, do not have the paperwork to prove that I am Native American or which tribe I'm from. And to be quite honest, even if I were to reconnect with my father's family, they would likely not have any paperwork or proof to assist me.

The problem is: A school like UC Davis requires me to list which tribe I am part of and my Native American card number--all things I do not have. What should I do? Should I apply to other schools as Latina and Native American and just apply to UC Davis as Latina--or should I reach out to Admissions and explain my situation?

I am planning on writing a diversity statement and now it feels like I'm in an odd place because I can't identify myself as Native American on one application even though I know I have more Native American blood than some people who have the paperwork to prove it (no offense meant here--but I have met people who are like 12% Native American and have all their paperwork and it feels frustrating that I can't "prove" myself).


  • Tom_TangoTom_Tango Alum Member
    902 karma

    I know of people who tried this for college admissions but unfortunately 23andme doesn't really confirm anything. Don't know if you can put in links on this forum but check out CDIB / Bureau of Indian Affairs to get your certificate/card

  • Mia FairweatherMia Fairweather Alum Member
    221 karma

    i think how you should identify is really situational, did you start identifying as Native after 23andme or has that always been part of your identity? Have you been trying to connect with your Native American heritage? Has being part native impacted your reasons for applying to law school?

    335 karma

    Thanks for responding! Do you guys think it's okay for me to check the Native American box and the Latino box for schools that don't ask me to "prove myself" or should I just keep it to myself? My diversity statement will only briefly touch on being Native American; the majority of my diversity statement will be about being Latina and "mixed", the need for diversity in the legal field, etc.

  • _oshun1__oshun1_ Alum Member
    3652 karma

    I think you should call uc Davis admissions and explain your situation and see what they say. Admissions seem to be really friendly at UCs and you can just provide your first name if you’re uncomfortable divulging your identity. They’re not gonna like look up your LSAC number while you’re on the phone. Sounds like you have a unique story to tell regardless of which boxes you end up checking off.
    23andMe is often inaccurate though just FYI.

  • Mia FairweatherMia Fairweather Alum Member
    221 karma

    hey! @LAWYERED so i think it's really a personal choice, although I think that if you check the Native American box you should add some type of addendum discussing your decision to check the Native box but being unable to put down a specific tribal affiliation or even include that as part of diversity statement. I am kind of in a similar situation, both of my parents identify as black in terms of "race" but my mom is African American and my dad is from Central America. I always felt pretty conflicted about my identity growing up especially when people couldn't understand how I could be black and the daughter of a Central American immigrant. For a long time I wouldn't acknowledge my father's heritage because it was just easier than trying to explain to people "what I was", over the years things have changed my sense of identity has strengthened and grappling with my identity is going to be the basis of the Diversity statement. In fact I posted on the discussion forum earlier that I would be open to reading other peoples personal statements/ diversity statements if they didn't mind reading over mine for feedback, if you are interested just send me a message. hope this helps!

Sign In or Register to comment.