Articles

A Native Candidate’s Story

When Barbara Vicknair (enrolled citizen of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and a current Town Council member of Murphy, North Carolina) was a young girl, she became keenly aware of walking between two cultures — that of her Cherokee father and of her non-Native mother. Like many young Native children, she learned what she knew about the tribal political system of her tribe from her father, and not in school. Her father shared his political involvement and electoral participation with her and influenced her later interest as an adult in tribal and non-Native politics. Even though Barbara remained open to listening to her father’s opinion on candidates, platforms and policies, she was quick to form her own thoughts and opinions independently of him. Despite this conviction, and again like most young Native adults, Barbara did not become involved in voting when she first came of voting age. With a few years of “life experience” behind her, her enthusiasm to be a participant evolved as she moved further into adulthood.

With a return back to her hometown in 1991, pivotal local issues spurred her interest in non-Native issues and campaigns in the small Appalachian community, and then in 1998 she herself decided to pursue a position as a local County Commissioner. She won her first office, beating an entrenched incumbent, and went on to serve two terms. She distinguished herself as both, the first woman, and the first Native American to hold such an office in the western North Carolina region (home to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and the Qualla Boundary Reservation).

“I remember those early supporters who encouraged me in my first campaign quietly suggesting that I not mention that I was Native. Shocked, I always responded that my father had always taught me to be proud of my heritage and that it would be an important part of my introduction to possible constituents.”

Although a lifelong Republican, Vicknair has never voted a straight ticket; she proudly casts her vote for the individual candidate despite party affiliation. Although Vicknair’s participation to date has been in non-Native campaigns and politics, she feels strongly regarding participation in both forms of government. She takes careful time in deciphering the platforms of all candidates and the issues facing both communities to which she is connected.

When asked what she feels is the most pressing current issue facing her tribe today, Barbara Vicknair is quick to answer that it is the Cherokee Constitution. She has familiar ties to the tribal constitution as her Great-great-great-Grandfather John Owle worked closely with Lloyd Welch in constructing the 1868 Cherokee Constitution. Vicknair remains excited and energized by her work on the present day committee to reformulate the constitution in hopes of it becoming a major referendum item in the future for the Cherokee. Vicknair currently serves on the Murphy Town Council in her second term. The future remains alluring and she hopes to one day turn her political involvement toward a tribal position as a possible contender for a tribal council member seat with the Eastern Band of Cherokee.

I would like to thank Barbara Vicknair for her time and interest in assisting me by providing this insightful interview. It is women like her that inspire and encourage our youth to become active participants in both, tribal and non-Native political activism.

-Written by We R Native blog author Constance Owl, an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in western North Carolina. constanceamity@gmail.com

The Land & Ancestral Wellness Wisdom

Much of our knowledge as Indigenous people comes from the land: our...

Be The Change: Tips for Being an Advocate in Your Tribal Community

Getting involved in local politics and advocating to your tribal government is...

The Plants of Your Place

Self-Love Made Me Do It

When a candle is lit, the fire comes from another source- whether...

How to Boost Your Self-Esteem

Your self-esteem is the way you look at, or perceive, yourself. If...

Culture is Prevention

National Missing and Murdered Indigenous Person’s Awareness Day

Indigenous people have long experienced disproportionately high rates of violence compared to...

Environmental Racism and Seeking Environmental Justice

In the 1970s, the Grassy Narrows Reserve in Canada, home of the...

Culture is Prevention – Sarah

Resiliency is in Our Blood

Resilience has become a bit of a buzzword in Native Country. A...

Indigenous People for Black Lives Matter

Today as I write this article the world is mourning Daunte Wright,...

BRAVE: Episode 7

Indigenous Feminism

Creating a world where people of all genders are respected and valued...

Healing the Land is Healing Us

Western colonial ways of thinking about health tend to focus on physical...

BRAVE: Episode 6

Land Back: Because Colonialism Does Not Spark Joy

In the opening scenes of Rutherford Falls, a Native-inclusive TV series launched...

Breaking Trauma Cycles

Ancestral Gifts We inherit many things from our parents, from their parents,...

BRAVE: Episode 5

What is the MMIW Movement?

MMIW stands for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. It’s a movement that...

Racism and Anti-Racism

Racism impacts all aspects of our lives. It impacts what policies are...

Brave: Episode 4

Indigenous Futurism

What would the world look like if tribal supernatural entities ruled? How...

The Judicial Branch

Sometimes, an advocacy group, business, church, or even a group of individuals...

BRAVE: Episode 3

The Executive Branch

After a bill passes both the House of Representatives and the Senate,...

The Legislative Branch

The Legislative Branch of the U.S. federal government makes laws. The Legislative...

BRAVE: Episode 2

Advocacy in the Three Branches of Government

The United States federal government is divided into three branches: the Executive...

Lessons From Standing Rock

In 2016, the water protectors at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation created...

BRAVE: Episode 1

We Are More Than a Mascot

Native American mascots are one of the more controversial topics when it...

Native Cultural Appropriation

Cultural appropriation is when someone from the dominant culture (i.e. the most...

Sunhawk / Managing Stress

Who is Secretary Deb Haaland?

Deb Haaland is a member of the Pueblo of Laguna and has...

What is Trauma?

Trauma is a distressing experience that can impact us emotionally, mentally, physically,...

Olivia / Keeping It All Inside

Healing From Trauma

After you experience trauma, it might seem like you will never feel...

Honor Your Needs

To give yourself the energy you need when you face a difficult...

Nadira / Reaching Out for Help at College

Learn to Identify Your Emotions

Sometimes we can identify our emotions through how our body feels. When...

Learn to Be Present in Your Body

After trauma, we may feel like our mind is caught up in...

Maiya / Dealing with Anxiety Attacks

Finding Balance in Your Day-to-Day Activities

Trauma often throws us off- mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and physically- but there...

Form Healthy Relationships with Trusted People

Coping with trauma on your own can be difficult. Think of the...

Kennedy / Seeing Kindness

Cope with Things That Remind You of Trauma

Our brains are always scanning the environment for danger. When we have...

Reaching Out For Help

Sometimes the bravest thing we can do when we are struggling is...

Kaytlynn / Combatting Stressors

Managing Our Mental Health

 Mental health is how we think about things and our conscious...

Self-Care

Self-care is key for taking care of ourselves and achieving our life’s...

Jowun / Self-Care For Me

Tips for Moving Beyond Blood Quantum

We know blood quantum, or “how much Native blood you have,” isn’t...

Blood Quantum Blues

“So… how much Native are you?” The dreaded question every Indigenous person...

Isis / School Stressors

I Strengthen My Nation Challenge #2

American Indian and Alaska Native Community Projects Created by Youth to Stand...

I Strengthen My Nation Challenge #1

Artistic Expressions of Resilience to Stand Against Substance Misuse The National Institute...

Aurora / Connection

Indigenizing Your Self-Care

Self-care means taking care of the whole self – physically, emotionally, mentally,...

What Is Tribal Consultation?

Tribes are nations that have the right to make decisions about how...

Ashley / Self-Care Looks Different For Everyone

Self-Compassion

Treating ourselves with compassion can have a big impact on the quality...

Chickasaw Spaceman

John Herrington, born in Wetumka, Oklahoma, is an enrolled member of the...

#Indigilove Recap Video

Lateral Violence

What is Lateral Violence? Lateral violence- also called internalized colonialism or horizontal...

Indigenous Comic Books

Comics and cartoons have existed for centuries, but it wasn’t until the...

Siletz DVPI PSA

Protect Your Peace from Toxic Relationships

What does it mean to protect your peace? Protecting your peace means...

Reclaiming Our Stories Through Media and Film

As Indigenous people, we know that storytelling is a powerful teaching tool....

MMIWG (Murdered Missing Indigenous Women and Girls)

Indigenous Star Stories

When you look up at the night’s sky, what do you see?...

Native Crisis Text Line

Sometimes things are too overwhelming to deal with alone. If you need...

Life Is Sacred

IndigiLOVE Campaign

IndigiLOVE is a campaign designed by tribal youth to spread positivity, share...

Substance Misuse

Substance misuse is a health issue that impacts many people. It is...

Elder Teachings

Supporting A Loved One

It can be painful watching those we love struggle. We may feel...

Why Do I Keep Saying “Yes?”

You have done it again! You’ve said ‘yes’ to something you don’t...

Defined by my Ancestors, Not Dead Presidents

Coping with Stress

Everyone feels stressed at times, but stress is not always bad. Sometimes...

Eating Disorders

Eating healthy food is an important part of our well-being. After all...

Heart of the Land | Prevent Suicide

Tips for Getting Enough Sleep

Sleep might seem like a waste of time. You could be doing...

Talk About It

Does the idea of giving a friend negative feedback about their behavior...

We R Native Ambassadors

We R Native Ambassadors Class of 2018/2019

Cultivating Self-Love

Want to build your confidence, self-esteem, and wellness? It all starts with...

Healthy and Unhealthy Relationships

We all have relationships with a variety of people, including friends, boyfriends,...

Healthy Relationships PSA

 

Spiritual Connection: Being Part of Something Bigger

Do you remember the last time you had an awe-inspiring moment that...

Food as Medicine

Indigenous teachings and ways of living kept our peoples well for centuries....

Native VOICES Trailer

Check out the trailer for Native VOICES

Indigenizing Movement and Mental Health

Movement is medicine – for our mind, body, and spirit. For our...

Mindfulness Meditation

Sometimes everyday stress can get to you. For some of us, it...

WRN Ambassadors

Represent We R Native

Diabetes Awareness

November is Diabetes Awareness Month and November 14 is World Diabetes Day!...

Is My Relationship Healthy?

All relationships exist on a spectrum from healthy to abusive with unhealthy...

Indigikitchen

Re-indigenizing our diets

Resources for Exploring your Sexual Identity

Your sexual orientation will emerge over time, probably little by little. Don’t...

Tips to Protect Yourself from COVID-19

The spread of COVID-19 in our state, threatens our elders, our families,...

I Like the minty ones

  Native VOICES – the best sex ed videos you’ll every watch...

History Through a Native Lens

Timeline Overview This timeline of historically traumatic events was authored by Karina...

Helping a Friend Who’s Been Raped

Getting support from people they love and trust can be invaluable for...

Powwow Sweat

Jingle Dress

Tips to be an Engaged Bystander

Leading up to every violent incident (be it intimate partner violence, domestic...

Creating Safe Spaces

While the perpetrators of violence (like intimate partner violence, domestic violence, or...

My Culture

We R Quileute

Wearing Contact Lenses

So, you’ve made the switch from wearing glasses to the ease of...

Introducing Uncle Paige

  We R Native is excited to announce that we have a...

Native Energy Odyssey

Visit from the Sustainable Development Institute to Lakota Nation – Pine Ridge...

Native VOICES Movie

Watch the most awesome sex ed video ever. You’ll meet Jamie and...

Native VOICES Episode 4

We all care about protecting ourselves and the ones we love. Embrace...

Lived Experience: Reese’s Story

LGBT: loved & accepted

Native VOICES Episode 3

We R Native. We R Proud. Accept Yourself. Protect Yourself. Tune in...

Native VOICES episode 2

Winter is here and so is snagging season. Use condom sense and...

Lived Experience: Randy’s Story

LGBT: loved & accepted

Native VOICES episode 1

50 Shades of Grey? Nah, try 50 Shades of Native VOICES! The...

Fitness Challenge

Working out does not require having an expensive gym membership or equipment....

Lived Experience: Ceci’s Story

Two Spirit: loved & accepted

Infant Immunization Week

To promote the importance and achievements of vaccines, especially in protecting the...

Consent

People often think consent is only important when it comes to sex....

Dreamcatcher-We Need You Here

Our community is like a #dreamcatcher. Each strand has it’s own qualities,...

Feeding 7 Generations

Food is a gift. Salish Elders remind us that true wealth is...

10 Tips for Staying Healthy & Happy in 2020

1. Smile every day and make a special effort to see and...

A Gift from the Creator

LGBTQ-Two Spirit: You are a gift from the Creator. You are part...

What to do with that pumpkin

Now that Halloween is officially over and your carved pumpkin slowly begins...

The Flu

What is Influenza? Influenza also known as the “Flu” is a highly...

Lived Experience: Shea’s Story

Two Spirit: loved & accepted.

Red Ribbon Week

It’s Red Ribbon Week® (October 23-31)! The Red Ribbon Campaign® is the...

Baked Pumpkins Seeds

Check out these awesome recipes for making different flavors of baked pumpkin...

The Medicine Game

Brothers Miles and Lyle Thompson-two of the top college lacrosse players of...

Back to School Tips – College

Going back to school? Excited? Sad? Whatever your feeling, we’ve got some...

Mountain Meditation

Sit tall with a long spine and your head erect to allow...

Warriors Against Violence Society

“Women’s Honour Song”

Mental Health Month

May is national mental health month! It is time to spread the...

Sleep Journey

Welcome back Shike doo Shidine (my friends and family)! I hope you...

Energy 101: Hydropower

Learn how hydropower captures the kinetic energy of flowing water and turns...

Trouble falling asleep

Having trouble falling asleep? Try these awesome techniques used by the #WellnessWednesday...

Sleep Week

I love sharing good health and wellness material on our We R...

A Fish Tale

Taking Baby Steps to Get Off the Couch

It’s all about Netflix and gains! Take some baby steps to get...

No Bake Energy Bites

Eating food for energy is a great way to start getting the...

Breaking the Statistics

Spokane area Indian youth showing how they’re breaking statistics.  

National Nutrition Month – Smoothie Recipes!

March is National Nutrition Month and a time to focus, or refocus...

Lovers’ Yoga

With Valentine’s Day behind us, we’d like to remind you that everyone...

Gen-I

Meet more Indigenous youth whose plans to make a difference brought them...

Banana Pancakes

February is the month of love and a time to recognize that...

Bannock Bread

Eating healthy means getting the right balance of nutrients your body needs...

Vote Indian Vote

Students from Salish Kootenai College, Pablo, Montana promote the Native American Vote.

5 Healthy Resolutions That Aren’t Losing Weight

In an effort to feel healthy, a lot of us pledge to...

Tis the season

Rethink the season of giving. The holidays have a way of bringing...

Love Your Life

After serving multiple deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, like many veterans, Lyn...

I just did my ancestry dna and found out I’m 44% Native American. I was adopted into a family at the age of four. I was always told I was native but I never had proof until last year. How do I see if I qualify for funds?

see answer

Find Us

Contest

A Native Candidate’s Story

Follow Us

Enter Phone Number to Subscribe:

Msg & Data Rates May Apply.
Text STOP to opt out. No purchase necessary.
Expect 4 msgs/mo.Terms and Conditions

Menu