Samantha Gove is a sophomore from Granby, Connecticut, and is a member of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation. She is double majoring in sociology and human rights with a minor in psychological sciences. For the past five years, she has worked with community-based non-profits to offer youth education programs on the injustices that Native and Indigenous communities face. Through her efforts at UConn’s Native American Cultural Programs (NACP) she is working to help build a sustained community of Native students on campus. She is actively involved in research. One project examines police use of force against Native people in the United States; another highlights the importance of minoritized and Indigenous languages such as Irish Gaelic and Mohegan-Pequot Algonquian. In addition to these activities, Samantha serves as an executive board member of the Native American and Indigenous Students Association (NAISA), a member of the Human Rights and Action Learning Community, a member of the Youth Advisory Team for the organization Human Rights Close to Home, and a mentor for the UConn Indigenous Nations Cultural and Educational Exchange (UCINCEE), where she works with Native youth and their families. After graduation, Samantha plans to attend law school.
My passion for Native American activism originated from my experiences as a Mashantucket Pequot youth. I continuously found differences between how I experienced the world and how my peers did, so I became determined to address that gap. At that age, I never imagined the opportunities I would eventually have to pursue that work. In my time at the University of Connecticut, I have become particularly interested in addressing the problem of anti-Indigenous violence through my research project “Police Killings of Native American People: Examining Variation Across Space, Time, and Status Characteristics,” which aims to assess the circumstances behind the disproportionate number of deadly police encounters with Native American people. This project will give me an opportunity to make an original contribution to our understanding of these tragic, but understudied, encounters. Through this research, as well as my work at Native American Cultural Programs and the Native American and Indigenous Students Association, I hope to build a strong foundation that will allow me, one day, to make meaningful progress towards preventing anti-Indigenous violence through public policy reform.