Carson Allen has lived in Fallon his entire life and is a member of the Paiute-Shoshone Tribe of the Fallon Reservation and Colony. He went to Churchill County High School where he excelled in English and performing arts. He decided to attend the University of Nevada, Reno for his higher education journey as his dad and brother both went to Nevada as well. Allen is now a graduate student in the Communication Studies program and is excited to continue the family legacy of attending the University.
In high school, Allen loved theater and theater performers. He fell in love with the costumes the performers wore and wanted to be like them. But there was a lack of Native American representation in this field, and Allen found it hard to see himself in any of those outfits. He was inspired to take the theatrical costumes he saw on stage and make them into something that could be worn every day. While still maintaining elements of his theatrical background, Allen opened his shop, HatXGame. His shop is now an online business where people all over the world can purchase his products.
“I started designing my own clothes in high school,” Allen said. “I started detailing and rhinestoning and perfecting my technique from the time I was 16-17 years old until now. I grew up watching these stage performers and I loved what they did, so I expanded my passion and developed it into an online store.”
Being a Native business owner, Allen has become more involved with the Native American community on campus. During his undergraduate years, he wasn't as active in the community since he was a full-time student and was working two jobs. While he wishes he had more flexibility in his schedule at that time, he is now excited to become more involved and use his voice to empower others.
“Now as I’ve gotten older, I’m starting to get more of that sense that I need to be active in my community and to be a representative of my community,” Allen said. “I make a conscious effort to try and always be the best representation that I can because, in a lot of situations, there are times I am the only Native person in the room. So, I think trying to be vocal and bring a voice to my people and our culture is the most important thing to me in my academic career.”
Allen believes that there is a notable lack of Native American voices and perspectives in academia, and he is determined to address that. Growing up both Native American and Italian was a struggle for Allen as he didn’t know how to balance the two cultures. His goal is to be a voice for others going through similar struggles.
While Allen is in the early stages of writing his final research papers for his communication studies program, his chosen topic is multiple-race identity where he discusses his experiences as a mixed individual and how he navigates his two cultures.
“One of my articles is about how we perform mixed identity,” Allen said. “Mixed in terms of faith, ethnicity and other identities. My end goal is to get my papers published. My belief is that there is an underrepresentation of Native voices, especially in academia, and I want to use mine as an example for future generations.”
Growing up, Allen heard stories of the challenges his dad faced while pursuing his degree and how poorly his grandparents were treated. Allen is thrilled to see that times are changing, not only on campus, but worldwide, as people are becoming more interested in Native American culture and want to learn more.
“As time has gone on, it's been really wonderful for me to see, not only a stronger representation of Native people on campus, but a stronger interest in Native culture,” Allen said. “I feel so welcomed on campus, especially because I am a legacy student; my brother went here, my dad went here and family before that has gone here to the University. To be so welcomed and accepted on campus is incredible.”