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Breaking boundaries and telling stories: MSU's Tristan Harris-Pearce

Young man with a passion to unite through the power of story
Tristan Harris-Pearce
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Posted at 4:35 AM, Oct 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-13 15:57:20-04

BOZEMAN — Today we highlight another Native American student breaking boundaries at MSU.

He is African American and Dakota Sioux, an MSU student on a mission to break down stereotypes when it comes to education, diversity, and inclusion.

Tristan Harris-Pearce is a young man with a passion to unite us all through the power of story.

“I want to pave the way for people to become who they are and let them know that they can,” said Tristan Harris-Pearce.

The freedom to be your authentic self and know what that looks like for you—it’s something Tristan feels everyone deserves to have, to know.

“I want to see people like myself. My friends want to see people like themselves,” he said. “I want them to not have to be inspired to be themselves; you should just be able to be who you are.”

He is majoring in integrated media with an emphasis on photography and film. Through that, he is on a mission to help people connect with their own uniqueness, their heritage, their sexuality, their culture.

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Tristan Harris-Pearce is a young man with a passion to unite us all through the power of story.

“So integrating Native people, Black people, Queer people, because I’m a man of many hats,” said Tristan.

One of his favorite ways to do that is through the magnetic power of story.

“My dream with normalizing these diverse social identities is to just make movies about them. People ask if I want to make documentaries—I don’t. I want to do fiction because I love screenwriting and to give that to people. I’ve written a few scripts. I’ve written a love story with a Queer black main character and it’s inspired by Hallmark movies.”

He has strong feelings about how Native and African Americans are portrayed, as well as the issues they face.

“That’s a huge issue,” he said. “Not being able to see Black people or Native people, we aren’t shown in media at all. And, if we are we are, [we're] shown in weird ways.”

He also believes society needs to start showing that non-straight relationships are, and should be, treated the same as straight relationships.

“Because I know I’ve experienced this with a lot of men I’ve gone on dates with, they’ll say I don’t know how to be gay because it’s not treated as the same,” said Tristan.

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“I want to see people like myself my friends want to see people like themselves,” he said. “I want them to not have to be inspired to be themselves, you should just be able to be who you are.”

His path leads from the written word to powerful still photography and also leadership.

“Many layers, many hats,” he said.

While using screenwriting and media to normalize social identities in the classroom as a student, he is also active in boards on every platform of his background at MSU.

According to his peers he is a champion of advocating for, and networking between, every face on campus—some he feels are unsung and rarely seen.

Now he’s focused on improving his craft and also taking part in and developing diversity and inclusion trainings on campus. He is hoping to build on the already powerful connections he’s formed and found at MSU.

“Making sure that you’re there for another person for them to talk to is amazing because there’s this connection that you make that can’t really be explained,” said Tristan. “You don’t have to know a lot about race but what you do need to know is how to listen.”

“If you’re being made uncomfortable talking about native issues or queer issues because you’re not like them that’s when you need to listen more,” he added.

Tristan says he's also happy to see American Indian Hall built to further promote people of diverse heritage on MSU's campus.