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English & Independent Scholars

“I grew up loving to read, loving to write. I’ve always had a deep appreciation for storytelling and its impact on how we see the world,” says Corinne Martin, a sophomore English and Independent Scholars double major. 

Her love for storytelling continues to have a major impact on her life and perception of the world. As she creates her Independent Scholars major − Native American History, Culture, and Narratives − she aims to give ownership back to Native stories. 

Corinne’s interest in the Native narrative goes beyond her studies; she has a personal connection to the subject. She is a member of the Sappony tribe of North Carolina. “I’ve always had a conflicting connection to my identity,” explains Corinne. Her great-grandparents made the sacrifice to move away from the tribe to provide a better life for their children. “I always knew I was Native American, but my grandparents and great-grandparents never really talked about it,” says Corinne. 

However, as she dove into her Independent Scholars major, she “suddenly had this very real and very tactile way to connect to [her] heritage and explore [her] identity.” To further connect with her culture and understand Native stories, she plans to travel to North Carolina to visit her tribe this summer. While she is there, she wants to bond with the people and observe everything around her. From this experience, Corinne plans to write a collection of stories that creates meaningful representation for Native Peoples. 

Through doing this project, Corinne can “fill in the blanks that have always surrounded [her] identity while serving [her] community.” This is her way of honoring the community that her great-grandparents left behind. 

When beginning this project, she asked herself, “what are the tools I have to do something? For me, I am a writer.” By using her passion for writing and storytelling, she aims to be an advocate for the Native community and allow them to gain back ownership of their stories. For so long, Native Americans have been misrepresented, stereotyped, and characterized in writing. This misrepresentation has had a truly detrimental impact on the community. Corinne wants to “dedicate her writing” to share her story and the true story of her people. Through this project and beyond, she wants to grow as a writer and an advocate. 

As she says, “storytelling is a way to meaningfully connect our past, present, and future.” Corinne has taken the steps to explore her heritage, connect with her own identity, and work to create a future where Native Peoples have ownership over their own narratives. 

Story written by Kate Peppiatt, '23.

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