My Story

We have powerful voices and stories that need to be heard. Check out the stories below from youth throughout Indian Country and be sure to share your story today!

 

image description

Bradley Wagnon

My main goal in life has always been to help others. Whether it's my family, community, tribe or even strangers I just want others to have the best life possible and be happy. I believe there are many things we as a tribe and we as people in general can learn from our traditional stories and that's why I've decided to pass them along through books. You can check out the Amazon pages for my books at 

https://www.amazon.com/How-World-Was-Made-Cherokee/dp/1514358654/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1517952146&sr=8-1&keywords=brad+wagnon

https://www.amazon.com/Land-Great-Turtles-Brad-Wagnon/dp/1939054907/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1517952146&sr=8-2&keywords=brad+wagnon

-Bradley Wagnon (Cherokee Nation) age 38, is from Gideon, OK. Bradley is passionate about sharing Cherokee history and culture and helping others.

image description

Faithlyn Seawright

Growing up in a small town was not a bad life for me. However, growing up in a small school with people outside my culture/race was hard. I remember being picked on for my skin, long hair, and for the way I did things. Years of this lead to depression and it lead to multiple acts of self harm. I pushed myself away from what I knew and what I loved in the hopes of being accepted. I thought it would help make me happy but it just made me sad. Years of self torment went by and my spirit grew weak. My friends and family did not know what I did, but they soon found out. I tried to quit, but it was like an addiction. In 2011, a great opportunity happened. I was asked to represent the All Nations Powwow Committee as their princess. This began a new life for me and brought me back to the circle and to the life I love. My culture saved me and I thank Aba'binili' (Creator) for it everyday. This year will be 6 years since I went back to my roots and it will be 2 1/2 years since my last self harm incident. Times may get tough and get you low, but the remedy I recommend is to follow your ancestors and their ways. These ways heal the spirit and it will brighten your path. Thank you for listening to my story, and I hope you fill your life with happiness.

-Faithlyn Seawright (Chickasaw), age 18, is from the Chickasaw Nation in Oklahoma and is passionate about culture revitalization and native pride.

image description

Halona Benjamin

I used to be the one who would sit in the back of the room & cling to my Mom. After being bullied in school I didn't think I or my voice mattered or that I was beautiful. It was only when I attended the NCNAYO (North Carolina Native American Youth Organization) conference, a State wide conference for Native youth, that I felt like I could be more. I was amazed by how many youth came together to take part in the conference & that it was a youth led event! I was able to talk w/ youth my age, make friends, experience my culture & enjoy the speakers & workshops they had! After the conference I knew I had to be apart of NCNAYO so I ran for County Representative & got the position. I was truly happy to be around so many youth & not feel judged or less than. NCNAYO has done so much for me. I was able to become a leader, comfortable in my own skin & my own person. If it wasn't for NCNAYO I'd probably still be too afraid to say my own name out loud.

-Halona Benjamin (Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina), age 18, is from Fayetteville, North Carolina and is passionate about bettering the lives of future Native Americans.

 

image description

Jasmine Sanchez

In my freshmen year, I got myself involved with a guy. Yes, I was happy. I felt like nothing could bring my happiness down. We were together for almost more than two years. I was focused on my future and education. I joined clubs they offered at my high school during my freshmen year. I started having a passion on being involved within my community and help spread positivity. But, one year later after my relationship, it became an on and off thing. Negativity started happening. The hurtful things a guy can say to you randomly. As time passed, our relationship got worse. I tried to get myself out of the relationship, but soon we got back together. I messed up during my sophomore year. I started lacking the motivation of doing school work. In the summer of 2015, we broke up, but still the bad things kept happening. After every bad thing, I put myself into depression. I lost the passion I had for hoop dancing, community involvement, school, and pow-wows. One day my mother took me to doctor's office and they prescribed me medications. When that moment happened, I told myself to change. I never took the medications they prescribed me with. I got up and went back into dancing, school, and being involved with clubs. Dancing brought a huge difference into my life. It brought healing and peace. I started traveling like the way I used too. As time went, I started feeling happy again. It was like a moment, I forgot what happiness was about. To people who fall into depression and feel like you are alone, you’re not. You have many loved ones who love you for you. You can get through it. If many people, get through hard difficulties so can you. Always be you and love yourself.

-Jasmine Sanchez (Navajo), age 18, is from Bloomfield, New Mexico. She's passionate about being a leader to her people and being able to help youth around her community to better themselves. She wants youth to know that they have different resources available.


image description

Josie Vargas

My Dad is Huichol and Mexican (Mexican/South American tribes) so growing up in the US without a strong community was really hard. For a long time, my only connection to my culture was through family visits and gifts that would come in the mail. In high school, I reached out to other Native kids and I was really surprised that they accepted me so readily even though my tribes are south of the border. This gave me a sense of purpose and a drive to fight for Indigenous rights, especially for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence (both of which I have experienced). There are some resources for survivors, but Native survivors can find a lot of healing in culturally based programs. The best medicine comes from inside and our communities should be conductors of that. Language preservation and revitalization is also something I care deeply for. My grandmother's first language was Nahuatl, but no one else was taught how to speak it. I still don't know how to speak it, but I've made an effort to learn basic words and now I can count, name colors, name some animals, and say basic phrases. I don't know if I'll ever learn more than that, but speaking your language is powerful. I've also picked up a lot of Ojibwe to help my boyfriend (Saginaw Chippewa) learn so we can pass it on to our kids in the future. Even when it gets hard, I want young Natives to keep trying to learn their language and keep their cultures alive. Our grandparents fought for us to be here and the fact that we exist against all odds is resistance.

-Josie Vargas, age 20, is Huichol and Mexican and is passionate about art and culture and language revitalization.
image description

Kateri Daw

Ever since I was a kid I was told I would travel the world and I wouldn’t be tied down to the restraints of my hometown. Ever since I could walk, I would escape the house and try to run to somewhere else. Home is just a place I never wanted to be. I would sit on my roof and stare at the airplanes in the sky, I wanted to be where they were. I was so full of wonder and I wanted to escape and learn about the world from my own experiences. When I began middle school I developed generalized anxiety disorder and depression; causing me to feel like life was useless. This stemmed from years of being bullied, tormented, and rejected by my peers. The next two years would be an uphill battle between doctors, medications, counselors, therapists, and self-harm. The world felt like it was always collapsing inside of my head and I couldn’t escape. It figuratively felt like 100 bombs going off in your head all at once. By 8th grade I decided I had to get up and change my life because no one was going to change it for me. That’s the same year I had learned that I got accepted to the Natural Helpers Club. In this club I would learn about bullying, suicide prevention, and how the legislative system works from a first person point of view. It was a simple club, we would meet every week during lunch. We made one movie on YouTube® that I am only partially proud of. It seemed small, like something you do to make your parents proud of you. Yet, in this club I learned the skills and the connections that would begin to pave the path that would be my next four years.

-Kateri Daw (Navajo), age 18, is from Albuquerque, NM and is passionate about Suicide Prevention.