NIDA Contest Entry

Kiara, Kuupangaxwichem/Northern Ute, Age 19, California

Our Future, In Our Hands

My whole life growing up revolved around the Powwow arena, it was the only lifestyle I knew. I’ve been dancing since I was able to walk, and traveling from powwow to powwow at a very young age. Across Indian Country I have met and became close with so many different people and have been taught many great things. I’ve been inspired by many to constantly expand my knowledge and try to absorb as much as I can from a very young age. This has brought out the creative side of me.

I began painting at a young age, and stopped for many years. I couldn’t find motivation or inspiration, that’s when i started painting what I know best, which is the powwow scene. As soon as I started to create art from past memories, it sparked a light in me. This particular piece was inspired by a good lifelong family friend, Moontee Sinquah, a world champion hoop dancer.

I have known Moontee for as long as I could remember and the only energy I have every received from him was strictly positive and happy energy. In this piece, the emotional depiction is very strong and resilient. When I look at my piece I visualize someone who has been able to overcome obstacles and battles within themselves. I believe the piece is a powerful depiction of how our youth can chose the path of knowledge in culture and power over drugs and pain, along with generational patterns of abuse of drugs and alcohol.

Our people deserve better and will always deserve to not have to face battles like this, but we do and it’s the reality of what our people have to deal with. It’s having great people to look up to and help lead you to the right path through encouragement and leadership. Through our cultural practices and traditional ways, we can overcome many battles within ourselves and the outside world. It’s up to us though if we want to take that path, but the help of amazing others is always a help.


I was raised mexican but grew up being told I was a couple drops of yaqui native. I did a DNA test and found out I’m a quarter but no ancestors were registered. What can I do?

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