VOICES of YOUTH: GAME CHANGERS Youth Summit II

GYSD Banner Collage2“If people can pause and listen to the wind and the sound of birds, then I am pretty sure that they can listen to what I have to say… what WE have to say!”
— Summit Participant

At the SuAnne Big Crow Boys and Girls Club in Pine Ridge, 50 young adults gathered on April 12, 2014 for Lakota Children’s Enrichment’s Game Changers Youth Summit, II.  Following the Summit the doors were opened to the public for a free concert by everyone’s favorite alter-Native rock band, Scatter Their Own.

Robin Tapio from the Oglala Lakota Tribal Council opened the Youth Summit with a prayer. She then presented Colton Sierra, the High School Grand Prize Winner of LCE’s VOICES OF THE LAND Challenge, with an honor from the Tribal Council — a beaded necklace and belt buckle.  Colton was a runner-up in the Challenge last year and won the High  School category this year. He is also a Co-Founding member of  LCE’s Youth Advisory Board.

Fellow Youth Board member Summer Montileaux ran a panel discussion on nutrition:  she interviewed Dr. Mark Butterbrodt, M.D. and Scatter Their Own’s Julianna Brown Eyes Clifford about healthy eating and the importance of exercise. Both panelists shared tips on how to eat healthy on Pine Ridge, where healthy food is hard to find.

Summer_Mid

Summer Montileaux: “If I could do anything, I’d be a pediatrician and help the youth.”

Spoken word sensation Jasmine Mans took the microphone and encouraged youth to get in touch with their inner  selves and to formulate their plans and dreams – to identify things they care about. She urged youth to have confidence in themselves and in their dreams.

After a healthy lunch assembled by the Boys and Girls Club staff, the group split into three service teams: One discussed ways they could use their voices to advocate for themselves; the second wrote letters to elders at the Cohen Home and made art work for them — they sent the letters along with copies of all of the prize-winning poems from the VOICES OF THE LAND Writing Challenge; and, the third group led by Summer Montileaux, assembled healthy snack bags for the community, filled with peanut butter, granola bars, apples, toothbrushes and toothpaste and a flyer that Summer prepared on Nutrition and healthy eating.  Disney Friends For Change subsidized the panel discussion, the nutrition flyers and the healthy snack bags that Summer and team distributed. Collage3

After completion of service projects, each group reflected on their inner goals and dreams and discussed ways to use their voices to reach larger audiences.   As illustrated below, Lakota youth have ambitious dreams and goals and want their voices heard, in their communities —  and outside their communities.

While Scatter Their Own entertained a crowd, LCE Youth Board members distributed new sneakers to everyone who attended the Game Changers Youth Summit and to other community members. Among other things, one large box of bright new Nike cleats and running shoes was given to a teacher from Wounded Knee, who is in the process of starting the first ever soccer league on the Rez.  Another box of left over running shoes went to Kyle for distribution to youth there.

Inila Wakan Janis (“Keith Janis”) closed the event with a Lakota prayer.

A huge WOPILA to Chick Big Crow, Robin Tapio, Jordan Big Crow and the kitchen staff of the Boys and Girls Club for helping us produce a successful event at an amazing location. We urge everyone to support the Boys and Girls Club — it is a wonderful facility that presents endless possibilities for the youth!

And now, the WISDOM of the Game Changers — LAKOTA YOUTH
IN THEIR OWN WORDS
If MY Voice could be heard…
  • I’d say that we’re all equal; no one is above or under someone;
  • I’d say that we are all equal but we are different, and we can still be friends throughout life… friends stay with you in hard times; Remember, you are not alone;
  • I’d tell everyone to love each other every day of your lives, and don’t let your own life pass you up;
  • I’d say that we need to treat each other right;
  • I’d say that we need to keep our land and water resources clean;
  • I’d tell everyone that you always have someone to talk to… never think that you are alone;
  • I’d tell everyone to go back to the cultural way of life;
  • I’d ask for an increase in food distribution efficiency;
  • I would ask the world to love and care for animals….
I CARE about:
  • my community and my family;
  • my family, my community and the way that people eat;
  • school and my son. I want to finish school so I can support my son. He is my main man and I want him to know his dad because I aint no chump who never wants to hug his child. I want him to know that I’ll always be there for him.
  • trying to prevent suicide.
If I could do ANYTHING
  • I’d become a pediatrician and help the youth;
  • I’d become President of the United States or become a doctor;
  • I’d bring back the real ways of our Lakota culture;
  • I’d close down White Clay bars and open new stores without alcohol;
  • I’d be a biologist [and] do a lot for the reservation [to] clean up the streams and keep the land clean;
  • I’d take back junk food and sugar drinks and bring healthy food for everyone;
  • I’d be a writer and change people’s lives;
  • I’d be an artist and make people see the world in a different way;
  • I would go to college and become a doctor to take care of my people; also, I would like to travel but FIRST I would HELP MY PEOPLE ON THE RESERVATION!
  • I would go to college in RIO and become a vet and then come back to the Rez to take care of all of the stray animals…
  • I would stop violence in the world and then find a cure for cancer;
  • I would go to college and get a degree in business and then put it to use on the Rez. This Rez needs more revenue so we can become and practice our sovereignty. More money on the Rez [EQUALS] no more government involvement. We can become our own people again and push ourselves away from being a dependent nation… ROADS, BUSINESSES and BRINGING BACK THE LAKOTA CULTURE!
  • I would go to college and go for something that I love and something that I could bring back to my people. Not only that, but I’d HELP my family and “inspire” them [by the experiences] that I am about to face in the next step of life.
  • I would change Wanblee and get more resources out there and a lot more opportunities to chose from, and bring back our culture, because we are losing it… if I could  do anything, I would do it for the people and my family.
  • I would make a difference in someone’s life.  It wouldn’t even have to be a big difference, just enough [to] change the course of someone’s life.
  • I’d become a talented violinist. I’d be able to move people to tears with my music and then I could teach other people.
  • I’d open a coffee shop, and when I raise enough revenue, I’d open a different business so the economy wouldn’t be so terrible.
  • I’d direct a movie about my culture and things I care about… so that other people will believe in them, too.
  • I’d life my life in a way that will make my lost loved ones proud.
I’d like to….
  • be a good role model for the next generations to come: through school, sports and acts of kindness;
  • be a doctor to help the elderly and kids get through the sicknesses they’re going through;
  • be a great inspiration for younger people and help them make smart choices;
  • be a superhero!
  • ride a triceratops!
  • be looked at by my accomplishments, whether it be for academics or sports…working hard is the only way that you will get anywhere…. “Every great achievement was once thought of as impossible.
  • travel the world;
  • stop smoking and diabetes. I lost my grandma because of smoking and am about to lose another family member because of smoking; I have a grandparent …who is suffering because of diabetes. I’d like to stop smoking and diabetes.
  • become a poet because I think that people should hear our inner voices, hear our thoughts. If people can pause and listen to the wind and the sound of birds, then I am pretty sure that they can listen to what I have to say… what WE have to say!
  • open a vet clinic for the community, because all is see are abandoned [and neglected] animals and animals abused and left behind –animals should be as important as we are.
One Day….
  • I’d like to open a recreation center for my community: If you’re an athlete there will be a gym and a weight room; If you’re a gamer, there will be a game room… I just want something for everyone and anyone… One Day…

Woplia to Youth Service of America, Disney Friends for Change, State Farm Insurance, the SuAnne Big Crow Boys and Girls Club, Scatter Their Own and the Oglala Lakota community members and teachers who chaperoned and drove youth from across the reservation to attend the Youth Summit.

© Lakota Children’s Enrichment, Inc. 2014

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *