NIDA Contest Entry

Makayla, Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, Age 16, Michigan

I Am Resilient

Hello, My name is Makayla Stevens and I am part of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, I am 16 years old and I am entering this amazing contest in hopes of showing not only local native youth but youth over the world that there are so many amazing opportunities they can receive and participate in that don’t involve drugs. Growing up in this small native community has taught me so much about the negative effects of using drugs, the drug epidemic has taken a huge toll with in my own community, It’s about once a week we hear about a young person passing away from an overdose, the age seems like it keeps getting younger and younger.

I personally feel I have a tie to the drug epidemic and how it affects families: when I was younger my biological family regularly used drugs which caused behavior changes and alot of abuse and neglect, this had went on for years to the point where my two younger siblings and I were put up for adoption, that was very hard for me to get over, but luckily a my sisters and I were adopted by a lovely family where I have some pretty amazing opportunities, words can never express how grateful I am for my family, they don’t use drugs, and they join our community in trying to lower drug rates, not going to lie being adopted has its negative effects but it also has created this strength inside me that keeps me seeking for opportunities and not turning to drugs. I think that my fine arts keeps me from wanting to turn to drugs. When I sing and when I create I feel this sense of peace and I think there are so many other opportunities people can enjoy when they are not actively using drugs.

I hope my piece of art can reach many, but if it just reaches one person, I would make me so happy. I feel that I have a great connection within my knowledge of Native American culture, I am an Indigenous dance teacher, and I currently for the past year have held a job at “The Ziibiwing Cultural Center” where I teach and instruct about the Native American culture, I teach all types of age groups including college aged as well as kindergarten. This job has been such a blessing and it taught me so much about my culture and my connection to indigenous arts.

I feel that if my piece of art can be showcased it will show other native youth what they can achieve I hope to be a leader and someone to look up to with in out native youth. To be a part of this amazing opportunity means so much to me, this year has been a lot of students and small incentives really help a lot. Thank you once again for the opportunity, I hope you guys love my art as much as I do, I also hope that my story can be shown to other native youth and hopefully encourage resilience as well as that indigenous strength.


Hi Auntie Amanda, I was reading about suicide rates in the United States and Native Americans were the highest in rates. As a Caucasian person, would it be acceptable for me to pursue a degree in psychology to help tribes?

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