'Persevering and resilient spirit'
Chickasha Saya I am Chickasaw, and I feel proud to be Native in 2021. Throughout history, Native American people have always had a persevering and resilient spirit it is in our blood. Our tribes have shown tremendous care and support to our people, the communities we live in, and to the great state of Oklahoma and beyond. We have proven that our commitments and contributions never waver but only grow stronger, especially during the hardest times. We are here to serve, honorand respect all people it is who we are.
Karen Goodnight, Chickasaw tribal legislator
For centuries Indigenous people have stood in the shadows. To be Indigenous in 2021 means that we will no longer take the back seat. We WILL rise and we WILL persevere, just as our ancestors intended for us to do; this is our year.
Kamisha Hair-Daniels, Cherokee Nation
Im very proud to be a Seminole tribal member. Our ancestors walked the Trail of Tears and came to Seminole, OK. Our homelands are in Florida. At the present time,the Seminole Nation Tribal Office is in Wewoka, OK, but our Mekusukey Mission Grounds (is) in Seminole. Several of our tribal programs are located on the Mekusukey Mission grounds.
I feel it is very important to educate the general public aboutour culture. We need to raise awareness about the unique challenges Native Americans have faced both historically and in the present, and also in which tribal citizens have worked to conquer these challenges.
I grew up in the public school system in Tulsa, where it felt like we didnt even exist. We need to change that for our children and their future. During high school, we fought to get a Native American Club going so we could educate the students in our school. It was a lot of work back then, so that still continues for our students today.
I support the education, language, health care, agriculture, etc. of our tribes.
As a Native woman, myhope isfor our tribes to speak up for us, to let Oklahoma and other states see the challenges we face every day just to survive.
And this is just a glimpse of what we fight for.
I was very humbled by a moment in history when Congresswoman Deb Haaland was confirmed as Secretary of DOI. We need more Native women in these positions of leadership.
Mvto (Thank you),
Rep. Patricia Kishketon,Seminole Nation,General Council representative for the Hecete Band
I am a member of the Eastern Delaware tribe and Cherokee Nation.
While I was raised in a white household with the privileges that come with that, all of my life my father made sure to tell me about my heritage and ancestry. It was ingrained in me from early in my childhood to take pride in my Native heritage and where my ancestors came from.
I have a tattoo on my arm that reads, nchitanisi, which means I am strong in the Lenape language, the language of the Delaware tribe. It is not only a reminder to me that I am strong enough to handle anything that comes my way, but it also serves as a reminder of the strength of my ancestors the strength they needed to endure being American Indian in the growing United States. I carry that legacy with me through everything I do.
As an educator, I have a responsibility to carry on the legacy of Native America. When I teach government to my seniors, I make sure I adequately address tribal governments and the role they play both in our state and in our nation. Every student will walk away with a basic understanding of how tribal government works and influences our state and federal governments.
As an American history teacher, Ive always made it a priority to incorporate American Indian history wherever I can. I have a responsibility to ensure the legacy of my ancestors is not forgotten. I do not teach the history of Native America as one of martyrs and victims, but rather I paint a portrait of warriors and heroes. I tell the story of a people who stood strong in the face of great adversity and overcame the worst of what man is capable of. American Indian history is U.S. history. I dont want my students to forget that.
It is because of my American Indian ancestry that I have had many wonderful opportunities throughout my life. I was honored to participate in the WINS program at American University while in college. The Washington Internship for Native Students was a summer-long program in which I had the opportunity to live on AUs campus in Washington, DC, while fulfilling an internship with the Department of the Treasury and taking college courses on American Indian Law. That experience helped to shape my belief system and was eye-opening for me in my quest to learn about the struggles and triumphs of the Native American community.
It is also thanks to my Native American ancestry that I was able to become fully vaccinated from the coronavirus. I was able to receive my vaccine through Indian Health Services. Oklahoma is one of the top states in COVID-19 vaccination rates, and it is in large part thanks to the tribes in our state and their vaccine distribution.
I take great pride in my heritage, and have made it one of my missions in my adult life to learn and study as much as I can about my ancestors so that I can continue to tell their story for future generations.
Emily Busey, teacher at Edmond Memorial High School
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