March is Women’s History Month, and we are excited to highlight and tell the stories of many strong, inspiring Native American women, both past and present, who have made an impact in the world around them. The historical significance of Native American women is one of beauty and power. Yet, it is one we know very little about.
Through the Adorned Campaign, Amanda’s main message for the youth is “you are more!” She addresses the vital differences between self-esteem and self-worth, referencing Dr. Christina Hibbert, clinical psychologist and author, who has stated that “self-esteem is what we think, feel and believe of ourselves. Self-worth is recognizing that we are greater than all of those things. It is a deep knowing that I am of value, necessary to this life, and of incomprehensible worth.” (Read Part 1 here.)
In the United States, a person dies from suicide every 12.3 minutes. The suicide rate among American Indian/Alaska Native adolescents and young adults ages 15-24 is 1.5 times the national average. Then, there’s the increasingly widespread issue of self-harm. A recent article in the Bismarck Tribune states, “Cutting, or self-harm, is practiced by people of all ages and races, but anecdotal evidence suggests that cutting is becoming more prevalent among Native American youth.” Since self-injury frequently occurs in private, rates of self-harm are difficult to determine. Therefore, estimates can vary widely from 3% to 38% in adolescents and young adults.
These statistics are disheartening. It’s easy to get caught up in the alarming numbers, forgetting that each number represents a beautiful, living, breathing life. A life full of potential and possibility, that has either taken action on thoughts of suicide or lives in a perpetual world of self-harm.
We are all examples of true beauty, yet we live in a culture that tells us differently. The society of today does everything it can to put us in a box, doing its best to contort us into its shallow definition of "ideal beauty." These unrealistic standards are completely one-dimensional, and they fail to encompass the wide variety of beauty that abounds in the human race.
Education is part of the fabric that weaves our future and opens up doors of opportunities to accomplish our dreams. For generations, however, the educational rights of Native Americans have been deteriorating under the weight of historical trauma and cultural contempt. At Native Hope, we are joining with a generation of Indigenous youth who are determined to pursue an education that does not compromise their Native culture, language, or spiritual beliefs.
Our nation is a melting pot of ethnicity, culture, and belief systems from around the globe. We encourage each other’s differences and seek to embrace uniqueness and expressions of individuality. However, an entire nation of cultural beauty, heritage, and tradition exists within our country, and it is one that is often overlooked and neglected.
Human trafficking generates billions of dollars each year in corrupt profits, both globally and in the United States. This exploitation and entrapment of millions of people, mostly women and children, is one of the most barbaric crimes against humanity. At Native Hope, we strongly believe that if we want to see this crime abolished, we must unite together in collaborative efforts to raise awareness and understanding.
The vast plains of South Dakota are home to a total of nine reservations and designated tribal land areas—more than any other state. It’s estimated that the combined population of these reservations is over 110,000. The people who reside here call themselves Dakota and Lakota, which are dialectic distinctions between three major divisions of the Great Sioux Nation.
As there are nine reservations, there are also nine tribes: the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe, Lower Brule Sioux Tribe, Oglala Sioux Tribe, Rosebud Sioux Tribe, Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, and Yankton Sioux Tribe. The culture and history of these nations provide a beautiful and rich heritage; however, it’s one that has been in a battle to be heard and understood.
Native American youth are facing a daily struggle of walking in two worlds: the Native world and the contemporary one. These are two very different places—especially when it comes to education.
Post- secondary education is even more dismal with only 11 percent of all Native Americans earning a college degree. There is a generation of Native American youth, however, who are changing the status quo. They are embracing the power of education as an undeniable tool for creating a path filled with possibility and life.
Following college, Jordan Daniel (Brings Three White Horses) took a job with the National Indian Health Board as a congressional relations policy associate in Washington, D.C. During this time, she worked on special programs addressing the prevalent issue of diabetes amongst the Native community. Jordan was inspired to pursue a position with Indian Health Services (IHS) after observing her mom’s career in the health field as well as her grandfather Nyal’s service as a tribal health director, where he taught and wrote grants for over 20 years. (To read part 1 of Jordan's story click here.)