Today, the White House convenes its first United State of Women Summit. Cierra Fields, a 17-year-old advocate against sexual assault and a rape survivor from Fort Gibson, Oklahoma (Cherokee) is one of eight women brought to Washington D.C. by the White House to attend. Fields is also a former Center for Native American Youth Champion for Change.
The summit has been billed as a way “to mark the progress made by and for women and girls domestically and internationally” and an opportunity for women activists “to discuss solutions to the challenges they still face.” The event, which has drawn leaders from all parts of the country, including Indian country, will feature remarks by the President and Vice President, a conversation with the First Lady. The high profile event will also feature the participation and attendance of such celebrities and advocates as Oprah Winfrey, Meryl Streep and other prominent women leaders.
Image from the White House website:
Fields took a moment to speak with ICTMN about the honor of coming to the summit via email.
How did you get invited?
I was apparently nominated by several people. I was shocked when I received my email invitation. But the truly shocking part was when my mom received a call from an unknown number. She let it roll to voicemail and it turned out that it was the White House! Taylor LAST NAME TK (head of the United State of Women summit) said everyone at the White House was moved by my nominations. First they wanted to make sure that I was ok speaking about my rape. Then they wanted to know if I minded being interviewed by national news organizations. I am still speechless.
That is an amazing honor, but admittedly you are advocating on a tragic topic that affects so many of today's women. How do you feel about all of this?
I didn't share my rape story for praise. I wanted to share my story to be a voice for the voiceless. I am not ashamed, because I did nothing wrong. I wanted my rapist and his ilk to know that they are what's wrong with society today. I wanted those who have suffered in shame to know that I believe them just like my family, friends, and Tribe believed me.
I will be bringing that message to the United State of Women. I want American women to know that we (Native women) experience rape at the highest rate of all demographics and that this violence must stop. We need to unite to demand rapists are held accountable. We need courts to be transparent and we need judges to hand down sentences that fit the crime.
Cierra Fields on Instagram
That is all in the first day; What else will you be doing in D.C.?
On Wednesday, I am participating in the Reimagining, Reinvigorating, and Moving Forward to End Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, and Stalking meeting at Georgetown University. I will be participating in the section addressing the “Violence Against Women Act in Indian Country, sexual assault among Native youth, and the Native youth/Justice System” regarding sexual assault.
What is next for Cierra Fields?
As for the future, I'm beginning my senior year of high school, s I am applying to several colleges (Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Stanford, Haverford, MacAlester, Vassar and William & Mary) to study journalism and political science. I'm beginning to apply for scholarships, I wrote an article for Indian Country Today entitled RAPE. The Other Four Letter Word and I want to continue writing for ICTMN. I am actively trying to change the age of consent laws for my tribal nation, and of course, I will continue to binge watch The Walking Dead.
I will be tweeting and instagramming my adventures in Washington DC. I will also be interviewed by Native American TV and a White House news organization.
Follow ICTMN’s Arts and Entertainment, Pow Wow’s and Sports Editor Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter - @VinceSchilling