I grew up in a white household because my parents are divorced. I feel disconnected from my culture, i used to jingle dance when i was younger but i wanted to know how to get involved in the community as a teenager who doesn’t have much native family.

Dear Penelope,

Identity and knowing who we are is one of the most important journeys we can walk. I encourage you to explore your identity. This is a great start.

There are many ways you can do this, yet there is no right or wrong way for doing this.

If you feel comfortable, reach out to your extended family. Tribal communities have a very strong familial bond. It’s likely they have thought about reaching out or at least thought about their relative, but didn’t know how to. Let them know you are interested in connecting and learning more about your heritage. If the family route doesn’t work, know that your tribe has other opportunities to connect.

Start with an Internet search – a lot of tribes have official tribal websites where you can at least find a phone number to their tribal office. Give them a call. Most tribes have someone who can answer some questions for you. Ask for youth events like; language classes, youth groups, community gatherings, in-school or after-school programs, elder lead groups, pow-wow/ dance groups, or anything else you could get involved in.

Once you start to make connections within the community and make an effort, things will open up, especially when you come with good intentions and respect. Keep this as your focus.

Best of luck to you. I think you are hearing her ancestors’ voices reaching out. Extend your hands and reach back.

Good luck on your journey.

Take care,


Auntie Manda

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