NIDA Contest Entry

Sierra, Ponca/Omaha, Age 17, Nebraska

Digital Landscape

As an urban Native, with deceased parents and grandparents, I use my phone to connect with my extended family in Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Ohio. With technology I am no longer the lone Native in my physical world. I can learn about my culture, traditions, and meet other Natives like me.

Alcohol addition ruined many of my relatives lives, and took my mother’s life. When I am in a dark place and feel isolated I can digitally connect with others to remind myself that I am not alone and I come from a long line of warriors. I see technology as a digital landscape that can create a sacred space for Native people to gather. This landscape is represented in my drawing. In my drawing I used a filter on the phone screen to represent the beauty that exists even during the darkest times.

The phone represents our ability to create a community with technology. We thrive through our gatherings. The digital landscape allowed us to stay connected during covid through Zoom and groups like the Social Distance Powwow. The digital landscape helps us share our issues and process our grief. Native people joined together to fight for our existence through movements like #EveryChildMatters, #MMIW, #IdleNoMore, and #No-DAPL. I represent these movements on the iPhone case. The jingle dress dancer is a universal figure for healing, strength, resilience, and connection.

The Digital Age created an Indigenous landscape that united our people and eliminated borders. Technology helps create communities to share our culture and reclaim our identity. The digital landscape provides a way to connect, learn, reduce our isolation, and express ourselves.

The government separated Indigenous people through international borders, reservations, boarding schools, and relocation. The digital age allows us to reconnect. Social media and technology helps connect Native people from all generations and geographic locations to share our stories, causes, culture, traditions, grief, and talents. We can dance for healing, fight racism, and make our voices heard.

My child is thinking about suicide

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Sierra, Ponca/Omaha, Age 17, Nebraska

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