Hilary Gourneau

Hilary Gourneau

Poplar, MT
Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Reservation
BIE Loan for Service

Portland State University
School Counseling
GPA 3.9

Community Service

I try to attend local events to help support organizations in the Portland area. I’ve completed a bike ride that helped support the message of the Sunrise Movement around stopping climate change and creating good jobs in the process.

I have volunteered at the annual Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA) Gala and Auction, where I’ve assisted with checking guests in, packaged auction items for pickup, and assisted with live auction items by showcasing and delivering. This event is the largest celebration of Native American Heritage Month in the Pacific Northwest (PNW), as well as their biggest fundraising event of the year. The event is a time to bring awareness to the forefront and share with others not only the needs of Native communities but to enjoy beautiful artwork, taste a Native-inspired meal and learn about ways to help our Native communities within the PNW and Portland area.

When I return home for visits or during breaks in my college schedule, I find myself visiting and talking with students about their futures, sharing my journey of graduate school and living in a major city, trying new foods and being exposed to different cultures. I think by sharing my journey with younger tribal members and my previous students is a way to give back, to plant that seed of possibilities. I try my best to attend and help with local events that are happening while I’m visiting home; cultural events, events for kids and sporting events.


My name is Hilary, I’m Dakota (Sioux) & Assiniboine of Fort Peck and Anishinabe (Chippewa) of Turtle Mountain. I grew up on my reservation in Montana, in the small town of Poplar, leaving to pursue my undergraduate degree in Elementary Education where I then returned to accept a teaching position as a Fifth Grade teacher and eventually took on the Head Coach’s position for our high school girls’ volleyball program, which I fell in love with.

Throughout my time at Poplar Schools I not only enjoyed what I did as an educator, but I loved being able to give back, especially to a school and community that provided me with so much more than an education. It instilled an appreciation and love for my Native identity, it allowed me to be surrounded by my cultural teachings, I was able to have a connection with the land and it provided me a place that I felt supported, safe and valued. I have come to these realizations after leaving, but this time much further away from home and my family, to pursue my graduate degree in School Counseling at Portland State University, in Portland, Oregon.

While attending a university that is predominantly white and living in a major city, I had a difficult time adjusting to life off the reservation, which I didn’t realize would happen, until I was in it. I’m grateful to the professors, mentors, and colleagues I’ve met while being here, I believe that building a strong relationship among those that show interest and want to support you has been one of the major keys to keeping me locked into finishing here at PSU.