As we look ahead to a new Presidential administration, I am taking this opportunity to look back on the great year I had in 2016. My name is Cierra Fields and I am a proud Native youth.
I am amazed to think of all that I have experienced and how lucky I have been to meet with fellow Native youths all over Turtle Island.
Here are some of the amazing moments I have been fortunate to experience. Here’s to great things in 2017 and the years ahead.
The United State of Women Summit 2016
I was honored by the White House as a Change Maker for the first (and hopefully not last) United State of Women hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama. It was inspiring to be with 5,000 of the most influential women in the entire United States. I was humbled to hear Vice President Joe Biden talk directly about the Violence Against Women’s Act.
BTW, YES #ConfidenceIsBeautiful and I am currently plotting to destroy the patriarchy in 2017. Would anyone else like to join the resistance?
2015-2016 Bell SR Pow Wow Princess
Bell is a small Cherokee community in Adair County, Oklahoma. My family has been attending this pow wow since my mom was in high school. Bell is one of my favorite places to be. It’s the friendliest pow wow I’ve ever attended. I was truly honored to travel to various pow wows all over Oklahoma to represent Bell. Shout out to my pow wow mom, Brandi Brown!
Catching up with the Center for Native American Youth
I had a great time with the Center for Native American Youth staff Josie Raphaelito and Amber Richardson as well as fellow Champions for Change Christie Wildcat and SuSun Fisher in Oklahoma City during the UNITY Conference 2016. Food is ALWAYS a bonus but the friendships are priceless. Christie and I were named to the 2016 UNITY 25 under 25. SuSun was from the inaugural class of 2014.
UNITY 25 under 25 honorees
At UNITY, I spoke about my sexual assault and the need to speak up, speak out, and seek justice during an open session to about 800 youth and adults. Afterwards, I spent the rest of the week meeting other young survivors like myself who had a story to tell. Many had never told another soul. It reaffirmed that I am on the right path and must continue being a voice for those who cannot or are not ready to speak out.
The White House Tribal Nations Conference
Going to the White House Tribal Nations Conference this year was incredible and bittersweet. It was the last conference during the Obama administration and honestly I was a little depressed. But, through the Gen-I Youth conference I met some amazing Native youth and I left the conference with a renewed sense of purpose. Plus I was winked at by President Obama, so top that 2017.
Bonus, I got to meet Billy Mills at the WHTNC:
My award-winning traditional Southeastern Woodland tribal artwork
2016 was an amazing year for my traditional Southeastern Woodland tribal artwork. My mom began teaching me 5 years ago and my art has grown. This year, I entered a full length man’s turkey feather cape called “Chief’s Honoring Robe” and won the Trail of Tears Cherokee Art Market Youth Best of Show.
My wish for 2017 it that all youth to continue learning their arts, culture, language, and traditions. We must carry this knowledge forward so future generations know their culture instead of reading about it in a history book. Oh wait, we aren’t white so it won’t be written in the history books. Even more reason to learn.
A 2016 Bartlesville Indian Summer Powwow selfie.
Just because I can.
The Native Action Network’s Young Native Women's Leadership Conference
I was honored to attend the Native Action Network’s Young Native Women Leadership Conference in Seattle, WA June 2016. We worked on leadership skills and cultural arts surrounded by the most beautiful scenery. (Again, learning more skills to destroy the patriarchy)
Mvskoke Creek Nation Youth Council’s March to End Domestic Violence
This summer, I was asked to participate as well as be the keynote speaker for the first Mvskoke Creek Nation Youth Council’s March to End Domestic Violence. These youth marched from their tribal nation’s capital of Okmulgee, OK to Oklahoma City, OK, the State capitol of Oklahoma. They were joined by the Firelodge Youth Council of Citizen Potawatomi Nation.
It was HOT and it was long but these youth are passionate about ending domestic violence and sexual assault in Indian Country so Jay Fife, count me in again this summer.
2016 Stomp Dance for Standing Rock
Since many folks couldn’t make it to Standing Rock, Cole Hogner and Callie Beniot of Cherokee Nation held an amazing fundraiser called the 2016 Stomp Dance for Standing Rock. We stomped, ate meat pies, and held an auction to help the water protectors. Any time I can hang out with my dear friend Maddie (she’s JR Miss Muscogee Creek Nation) is a great time! I know you're dying to ask: Yes, I stomp wearing Vault Boy.
In all seriousness, I continue to pray that the black snake is killed in 2017.
2016 Cherokee National Holiday Pow Wow
I love to Jingle. After my last cancer diagnosis 4 years ago, I began Jingle dancing as a way to help myself heal. This picture is from the 2016 Cherokee National Holiday Pow wow in Tahlequah, OK. My friend, Solen Deerinwater does Men’s traditional. I Jingle every chance I get and hope to Jingle more in 2017. Shout out to my mom as she sews all my Jingle and Cherokee regalia (she literally made this dress the morning of the pow wow, no joke)!
Cierra Fields is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, a 2016 White House Changemaker, proud 2014 Center for Native American Youth Champion for Change, 2016 UNITY 25 under 25 Honoree, and a leader of the resistance. Follow her on Twitter at @CierraFields918