We R Native Ambassadors

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Hannah Tomeo

Hannah, Colville, wants to help break down stereotypes.

My sophomore year I transferred to a predominately white high school for a better opportunity-it had the best academics and athletics not only in my city but competitive in my state. I still remember walking in to that school and feeling the intimidation and the exact thought of "What the hell am I doing here?". I was told right away by my science teacher that it was in my genetics to be an alcoholic, my running coach told me she had coached indian runners before and we are all the same with no real potential in the running world, was the only one drug tested on the basketball team,and the list goes on. I'm sure you get it I did not exactly fit in. But then I received a word from my dad that would change my perspective, he told me I could either be a quitter or a success story. When I was younger he used to tell me I had the ability to change my last name, he was always metaphorical like that. He didn't mean I could literally change my last name he meant I had the ability to change the way people thought of me when they heard it, but I didn't only want to change my last name, I wanted to change my stereotype not only for the way non-natives perceive Indians, but how we perceive ourselves. I wanted to raise the standards for my younger siblings and other Native youth. I have dedicated my young life to this, I not only proved my teachers wrong, but my coaches too. I am enrolled in high school, but I do running start and take college classes, I have made state in cross country, first team, all Colville team, national races, I have raced for team Washington and team Hawaii, won the Miss Northwest Indian Youth Conference title, and as of recently I have decided to go to Portland State on Track and Cross Country scholarship. I do this because my hopes are that it will encourage my Native peers to see one of there own can make it and so can they. Our people are not the alcoholic, abusive stereo type we are given, and that is not the image that us native kids should be given. No we deserve to know that our people were scholars with the biggest trade system of our time and a sign language to connect us, our people were athletes, when settlers first got here they thought they saw ghosts because before them we didn't have horses and would run everywhere and we were so fast they thought we were ghosts, and last but not least our people were spiritual and through christ all things are possible. I wanted to be a We R Native Ambassador because I want to be apart of this great project and help break down these stereotypes. Through running I found strength through struggles, it was my outlet and my way of going back to my roots. I remember when I first started at my new school and I had no where to sit at lunch and the people were mean, I would hide my back pack and go run during lunch I would run in the woods on the trails and find peace through nature. Running is almost as natural as breathing for me, it is in my blood. Natives were runners, before horses our ancestors would run everywhere. I run because I love it but I race because it brings happiness to my community I see it in my elders eyes and my younger cousins always say they want to be fast like me, but I always tell them no you will be faster. My hope is not to be the fastest, but instead I hope I'm just the trail blazer for a new generation of Native runners to come. Running is a healthy way of living that teaches you perseverance, and mental strength. So whenever I go back to my rez I run with a group of talented young athletes, cousins, siblings any native kid that wants to join. It brings me happiness that I can encourage others with my passion for running.

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Iesha-LaShay Phillips

Iesha-LaShay, Muscogee (Creek) Nation, is currently a We R Native Ambassador and the program has taught her to not only connect with other Native youth, but it has guided her to be more involved in my community.

I love being a We R Native Ambassador because I love being a positive role model and I want to continue to make a change in our communities. I am passionate about teaching native youth to be prideful of themselves and their culture. I am very active in my community. This year, I am the 2017-2018 Jr. Miss Muscogee (Creek) Nation. I am a member of my tribe's youth council and my school districts Native American Student of the year. Being this active in my community allows me to be able to reach out to more Native youth to spread my message of cultural pride.

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Jacqueline Allen

Jacqueline, Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe, wants to be a voice in my community.

I am a positive role model in my community and I hope to be a positive role model to other Native American youth that are seeking a career in the medical field. The one thing I am passionate about is getting Native youth more interested in medical careers. One of the biggest issues on my reservation is our health care. We do not have enough health care providers for our people. I plan to become a physician assistant after my bachelors degree and then work at IHS here in Flandreau. One skill I can bring to this position is power of persuasion. I am a proud member of the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe and I am proud to be Native and I am respectful of my culture, heritage, ancestors and future generations to come.

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Jazmyn Espinoza

Jazmyn, Stockbridge Munsee Band of Mohicans, wants to be a We R Native Ambassador because her ideals and missions line up with the organization.

I admire their commitment to Indigenous youth and helping them be the best they can be while overcoming the obstacles they face in life. As a 12 time suicide attempt survivor as well as a survivor of sexual assault those are two things that I am exceptionally open and passionate about. I share my story of resilience in hopes that it'll help others who have dealt with mental illness or domestic violence learn to heal and cope. I'm very open and honest about my battles with mental health and other experiences in life. In 2015 I was selected as a Champion for Change by the Center for Native American Youth which has given me not only exceptional experience with public speaking, but a deeper understanding on how to connect with Native Youth from across the country. I am also a published Author, with a talent and passion for writing, blogging, and sharing stories. I use that whenever I can to help empower others.

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Jeanetta Leach

Jeanetta, Cherokee, wanted to be a We R Native youth ambassador so she #represent.

I can be a voice for many people like myself-who are bullied, picked on or anyone who just needs someone to listen. I would also love to voice my opinion on animals and how badly they have been treated, neglected and unloved. One thing that I am passionate about sharing with others in my community is kindness!! I believe in paying it forward and that kindness goes a long way! One skill or personal attribute you will bring to this position is listening; I enjoy being there for anyone who need somebody to listen

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Kalela Reuben

Kalela, Nez Perce, wants to instill knowledge within her community and become a leader.

One thing that I am passionate about is positivity and I plan to bring leadership to this position.

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Kansas Middletent

Kansas, Lower Brule Sioux Tribe, wants to be a part of something bigger than himself and to help our people heal and grow in a positive direction.

I am passionate about education, its importance and the value of what it can bring, also educating others about the true history of Indigenous people. I bring many skills to the table but my strength is leadership and the ability to network.

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Karen Rodriguez

Karen, Muscogee (Creek), strives to better Indian country within her youth council and seeks to have her voice be amplified as a We R Native Ambassador.

One thing I am extremely passionate about is cultural preservation. I am very active in my culture and I always am offering help to be involved. One skill I will bring is my ability to relate to other youth. I am also very careful and easy on bringing up what makes us relate. I do not discriminate because everyone is different and I realize the different ways you have to approach different people.

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Kaylene Edmund

Kaylene, Bethel, wants to get involved and start making a positive difference in his community.

I need something different in my life. I want o make people happy and to help more with our elders. I'm good at communicating with others and I get along with everyone.