Voices of Indigenous Youth
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Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in these stories are solely those of the authors.
From the airwaves to the classroom, contemporary spaces are being transformed by Indigenous youth who insist on being seen and being heard. Whether learning ancestral languages, lending their voices to Native songs or partaking in the tradition of knowledge sharing, these young people continue to celebrate and preserve Indigenous heritage.
My name is Wigiiyaothi, "He Lives in His Yellow Lodge" in the Dakota language. I am born & raised on Standing Rock. For the first three years of school, I attended the Lakota Language Nest, a Lakota language immersion school where I learned my language & the prayer songs of my Dakota Lakota people. My father made my drum for me. I am so proud and happy to be Dakota and Lakota. I will sing my people's songs and speak my language far into the future.
My name is Wanapheya. I am born & raised on Standing Rock. I am Dakota and Lakota. I currently live in eastern Washington state. I run cross country and swim on my high school team. I wear my hair long in braids. At my high school I always remind my instructors that there in an indigenous perspective to take into consideration. I am changing education spaces and athletic teams by my indigenous presence.
Kanyon: Costanoan Ohlone and Chumash
The simplest answer is by being me. I honor my cultural heritage by doing what I can, when I can and whenever I can, however I can, as much as I can. To ask for guidance, to honor my ancestors with that involve a lot of practice, humility, diligence and dedication to my community, from being present at intertribal gatherings to holding my own personal and my own familiar ceremonies by always acknowledging indigenous protocol by becoming familiar with places that we occupy in today’s post-colonial settler society.