Indigenous Students Achieving Greatness

Posted By PowWow Articles March 19th, 2015 Last Updated on: January 20th, 2022


Yesterday, we met with Joseph Montoya, a student at San Jose State University and President of his club the “Native American Student Organization” which he started the Spring semester of his Freshman year at SJSU. We talked a little about what motivates him, and the drive he has for achieving his goals at the University.

Joseph is Lipan Apache, and his family lives in San Francisco. He is the youngest of 7, and grew up with a strong family that always encouraged him to further his education. His father and mother worked in Immigration Services, and after the death of his father, his mother continued in their business to support her family. Joseph received 2 scholarships that allowed him to attend SJSU and is currently pursuing a degree in Advertising with a minor in Graphic Design. He plans on using his degree to design graphics and media for Native businesses and Non-Profits. He stated that it was important to him to use his talents and education to give back to our community and people.


He is also the owner of his own small business “Urban Native Era”, a website designed to unite Urban Natives and bring awareness to issues through apparel and information regarding protests and movements in Urban areas. Their most recent mission is to bring awareness to the Oak Flats, and privatization of Apache land in AZ. You can visit their website here: http://www.urbannativeera.com

**Stay tuned to Urban Native Era to find out when they launch their Kickstarter Fundraiser!! So much is happening with this group, you will definitely want to keep them on your radar.**

We asked Joseph what it’s like being a Native in the Silicon Valley of CA, and he said “You know its hard because San Jose State and this area is diverse, but I am STILL the minority here.” Joseph’s club N.A.S.O has 6 members currently who identify as Indigenous. When I was originally looking at local colleges and Universities for students to interview, I contacted Ohlone College in Fremont CA, a school named for the local Ohlone tribe and was shocked to discover that not only did they NOT have a Native Student club, but that there was not a single registered Native Student that the University could put me in contact with.


Joseph is forging the way in his community for other Natives, and is providing an example for future indigenous generations to strive for greatness.

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