As an Indigenous woman, community member and professional with experience in the higher education and public health arenas, Chelsea (she/her) has a unique understanding of the missed opportunities to better serve students, professionals and racially diverse communities. The unique lived experience of growing up on a reservation, being an American Indian with fair skin, and being educated by a predominantly white community outside of the reservation for grades seven through 12 allows Chelsea to understand what is often described as “two different worlds.” Her privilege is something she continuously works toward understanding while also honoring her cultural and ancestral lineage that can often be discriminated against.
Chelsea’s work within the American Indian and Alaska Native communities as a project coordinator and as one of very few Indigenous employees with the University of Montana provided an immense understanding of the racism that exists in education and academia. Her current position with the Western Montana Area Health Education Center focuses on identifying health inequities within rural populations. One of the first tasks was vocally identifying the lack of diversity, Black representation and Native American representation. Chelsea believes fulfilling the role of the position to ensure health equity is improved across the state of Montana requires centering and prioritizing the practitioners, structures and systems that serve populations experiencing health inequity.