'And even though you're fed up … you got to keep your head up' — 2Pac, 'Keep Ya Head Up'
Leaving the safety and security of home behind to take a leap of faith to fulfill your personal mission is scary, but it’s worth it. My name is Lucas LaRose and I’m a Northern Cheyenne Tribal member, a descendant of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, and a millennial who loves hip-hop and country music. I grew up on the Winnebago Rez and became a licensed attorney and practiced law to help the Winnebago Tribe and others. Throughout my entire journey I had one personal mission: help people politically. This mission is the reason why I left my great job at Ho-Chunk, Inc. and my life behind in Nebraska for Washington, DC.
In part, I think this mission stems from my genetics because my Choka (grandfather) Louis LaRose is one of the best political leaders fever for Native peoples. He served as the Chairman for the Winnebago Tribal Council, and today he still provides his wisdom as a member of the Tribal Council despite Parkinson’s Disease robbing him of his body. (I love you Choka!)
The other part of this mission comes from when I saw images of Black New Orleanians suffering in their hometown days after Hurricane Katrina had hit. I remember thinking that life on the Reservation for Natives is rough but that’s OK — it’s normal because our federal government doesn’t care about us. At the same time, I was upset that despite the United States’ money and power, Black people in a major American city weren’t getting the help they needed after the impact of a hurricane which we all knew was coming. After processing these thoughts, I realized (1) how screwed up my worldview was, and (2) I could change these realities not only for my people but for others who suffer in our country as well.
After this realization, both parts came together to form my mission: I’m going to work in politics so that I could help people.
Now that I’ve explained my mission, I want to get to the point of this column: my leap-of-faith job search in Washington, D.C. It’s been a process consisting of joy, disappointment, and frustration. I’ve interned in DC twice before, hired a career coach, received advice from many friends, edited my resume, written countless cover letters, and networked with all sorts of DC people but I’m still without a job today. Despite my unique background, experiences, and accomplishments I’m told they it doesn’t matter out here because I’m a round-Midwestern-peg who is trying to fit into a square-Washington, DC-hole.
While I’m frustrated with the progress of my search, I know at some point my leap of faith will end with my landing on my feet. I know that I will find a job that fulfills me personally where I can both make a living, and where I can work to better the lives of my people and others. I know this result will occur because I remember where I came from, the people who raised me, and the people that helped me along the way. All of these facts amount to one truth: I have skills, experiences, and worth no matter where I go in this world.
So, I need to follow 2Pac’s advice: Even if I feel fed up, I’ve got to keep my head up because I’m going to land on my feet.
This where I want to leave you. If you’re considering changing something huge in your life which you know you deserve — whether it’s asking for a promotion or raise, switching careers, or starting a family but you’re scared of the risk then you should do it. Taking leaps of faiths are scary and can be stressful but they’re so worth it in-the-end be-cause you wind up knowing what you’re made of.
If that doesn’t convince you then take encouragement from the words of my Northern Cheyenne aunt Dr. Colette Yellowrobe, PhD: “Our people are resilient.” To me, these wise words mean that Natives are going to land on their feet in the end because our people have a long history of facing challenges and, despite the terrible things that have happened, we remain. We’re alive, we’re thriving, and we’re here to reclaim our cultures, identities, and lands. In other words, even when we were fed up, we kept our heads up and we’ve landed on our feet.
Lucas LaRose is an enrolled member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe of Montana, and a descendant of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska. He is a 2010 graduate of the University of Nebraska - Lincoln, and a 2013 graduate of the Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law where he received a Certificate in Federal Indian Law. He is currently looking for in the Government Relations/Policy field and resides in Washing-ton, DC with his adorable Boxer mix Roman.
Updated March 26, 2019 for correction: The Op-ed originally said that Lucas’s grandfather served in the Army during Vietnam. His grandfather was not a part of the U.S. Army, and Lucas is remorseful for the mistake.