In recognition of Native American Heritage Month, Shanae Dosela shared why her tribe is special to her, what led her to major in law, and how she connects her Native American background to her life at the University of Arizona.
Hello, my name is Shanae Dosela, and I am San Carlos Apache. My maternal grandparents are Randolph Titla Sr. and the late Shirley (Rustin) Titla. My paternal grandparents are the late Connie (Longstreet) Dosela and the late Franklin Dosela. I am also the adopted granddaughter of the late Matthew Anderson Sr., who was my father figure growing up. I am 22 years old and from the Bylas district located on the San Carlos Apache Reservation. My clan is Dzil Li Kesilahn (One Mountain After Another). Currently, I am a senior at the University of Arizona, majoring in law and minoring in American Indian Studies. Upon graduation, I will also be receiving an undergraduate certificate in Tribal Courts and Justice Administration from the James E. Rogers College of Law.
Q: Why did you decide to come to UArizona and major in law?
At a very young age, I already knew what I wanted to do. I was interested in law, and once I found out about tribal law, I wanted to do that as a career. I had a relative who was the tribal attorney for my tribe, and I heard from family members about what he was doing and how he was helping the community. Tribal law is something really personal to me and I feel more of a connection to it because it reflects Indigenous people and topics important to our identities. When looking into schools, I always had UArizona in mind. Someone came and spoke at my high school, and I got to know a little bit more about the university and all the programs and support services available to Native Americans. That really caught my attention, and it showed me they were really interested in recruiting Native American students.
Q: How do you get involved at UArizona? What organizations are you a part of that reflect your Native American background?
One of the ways I’m involved is by living in a Native American housing community, O’odham Ki, which is dedicated to housing Native American students and making sure they feel at home and are supported. I am also connected to the Native American Student Affairs. This has been a huge support for me over the years. Currently, I am one of their undergraduate assistants and I help provide resources to my peers and help them in different areas. It is really important to me that I continue to help other people because there are so many people who have helped me.
I am also involved with the Indigicats, which is one of the Native American clubs on campus. I joined a little over two years ago, and one of the things that attracted me was every year on Indigenous Peoples’ Day we throw an event on the UA mall, and we invite performers from different cultures, tribes, and nations, as well as royalty and tribal leaders. It is also an opportunity for the different Native American organizations to set up tables and booths for students to check out. It is a really big event that I plan to help out with as long as I’m here. Over the summer I also worked for Native SOAR, a program where students on campus can mentor younger Native American students in high school or middle school. I took part in that and was able to be a mentor for other girls as a way to give back to my people.
Q: How would you describe your family life and growing up on a reservation?
I was raised on the San Carlos Apache reservation by my maternal grandparents, the late Shirley Titla and Randolph Titla Sr. My brother, Traymond, and I are a little over a year apart, and we grew up together in my grandparents’ home. I am really grateful I was raised by my grandparents. Not just the ones I lived with but also my paternal grandmother, the late Connie Dosela, and my adopted grandfather, Matthew Anderson Sr., who also took on the role of my father figure. Those four raised me in a lot of love and taught me a lot growing up, not just in being a good person, but in general how to treat others—the ways of our people traditionally, and so many more teachings. Their love and support have carried me and my siblings a long way. In my tribe, when our family members are not here anymore we still acknowledge they are with us in spirit.
Even though I only have one grandfather left, I feel a strong presence around me from the rest of my grandparents. They really supported me growing up. When I told them my interests and what I wanted to do for myself in terms of education or my career, they always told me I could do it as long as I put my mind to it. They were really great role models.