Writing Challenge Winners: Legends&Heroes

Writing Challenge Winners: Legends&Heroes

The long-awaited winners of LCE’s 4th Annual Writing Challenge are here!  The Grand Prize Winners in each category earned a $350 individual prize plus a $1,000 grant for their respective schools.

The High School Grand Prize Winner is Wasu Janis, a student at the Little Wound School. Wasu has the distinction of having been a winner when she was in Middle School, too!  The Middle Grand Prize Winner is Lane Anthony Bordeaux, a student at the Red Cloud Indian School.

“The High School entries this year were well written and uniformly positive and inspirational,” said LCE Founder Maggie Dunne. Wasu Janis, the Grand Prize Winner wowed the judges with her forward thinking vision of her future self and encouraging message to her peers. Middle School Grand Prize Winner Lane Anthony Bordeaux, on the other hand, won the large Middle School field with a thoughtful poem about Chief Red Cloud.”

Wasu Janis said in her winning piece:  “I’ve come to learn that just because things aren’t good right now doesn’t mean that they will be that way forever. I believe that my struggles now will make me stronger.” Addressing her future self she says: “I cannot wait to see you accomplish the things that people said I can’t do. I will keep pushing myself and striving for greater greatness!…Thank you so much for inspiring me, and for inspiring others to be inspired by themselves!”

We thank you, Wasu, for inspiring everyone around you- we hope that your message reaches far.

As often happens, the judges decided to award several Runner-Up awards. Each of these winners earned a $100 individual prize!

The judges awarded two Runners-Up in the High School category: Payton Marie Sierra and Summer Montlieaux, both from the Red Cloud Indian School. This is Payton’s third consecutive win and Summer’s fourth — in other words, this challenge has identified significant emerging writers!

The judges awarded five Runners-Up in the Middle School category: Rose Rosales-Kleinhans (Red Cloud Indian School), Thea DuBray (American Horse School), Mia Murdock (Red Cloud Indian School), Jordan Derby (Our Lady of Lourdes) and Ty Morgan (Red Cloud Indian School).

All entries were judged anonymously by our panel of renowned judges.

 Congratulations to all of the winners! 

The winning entries are below. The three High School Winners are followed by the six Middle School winners. Please share their words, regularly and often.

Coming soon, the Legends and Heroes Art Challenge Winners!

The High School Writing Challenge Winners

Photo From: https://studiojoslizen.files.wordpress.com/  Photo by Alex Baker Photography

High School Grand Prize Winner
Letter to My Hero
by Wasu Janis

Dear Future Me,

I am supposed to be writing about someone I want to meet, someone that I look up to, someone who is my hero. The honest truth is, I’ve realized that person is “Future Me.”

Future Me, I look up to you because you are really the only thing in this world that’s keeping me going. I live for you and when everything else in my life comes to a halt and I feel like letting go or giving up, then I think of you, and what you have yet to accomplish. I think of how much you still have to offer the world and how many more people you will help in the future.

I want to meet you Future Me. I want to see if you are happier than I am. I want to be able to look at you and see that I actually turned out okay, that I made it. I want to see you change the world!

Future Me, I believe in you! Thinking of you makes me smile because when I think of you, it makes me believe that I can get through this hard spot in my life that seems to never end. I can’t wait to meet you and be able to say that I made it, because sometimes I scare myself, sometimes I feel like life isn’t worth it and that maybe I should just go be with my beautiful sister up in the sky. Then, I remember you, Future Me, and I keep going.

Future Me, you give me hope, hope for a better life and time; and hope that one day I’ll be something bigger than what people say. Future Me, you inspire me to prove every single soul that ever doubted me wrong, you inspire me to push myself beyond my limits just to get to where you are, because on God, I want to make it that far! Future Me, you give me hope that one day things will be good again and you inspire me to aspire to do great things.

I believe that everyone’s hero should be their future selves. You have to look up to yourself and believe in yourself, because you are the only human being on this earth who will never leave your side. You have to believe that you will do great things in order to do great things.

Everything that you will accomplish, Future Me, depends upon who I am and the choices that I make, and I’ve come to learn that just because things aren’t good right now doesn’t mean that they will be that way forever. I believe that my struggles now will make me stronger.

Future Me, I cannot wait to see you accomplish the things that people said I can’t do. I will keep pushing myself and striving for greater greatness!

I love you Future Me, I really do. Thank you so much for inspiring me, and for inspiring others to be inspired by themselves!

Love—- me 🙂

High School Runner-Up
Dear Dad
by Payton Marie Sierra

I.  Small Town Hero

A little guy with the wildest of dreams,

watching his dad and hoping to be just like him. 

Sitting in the stands, 8 seconds is up.

The lights start flashing, and the crowd is cheering. 

The crowd cheering,

1996 Indian National Finals Rodeo

As confident as can be, 

He nods, 

“Ok, boys.” 

His heart pounding out of his chest as they open the chute. 

For the next 8 seconds it was just him and the bull. 

With his dad in the stands, and 3 kids and a wife back home, 

He rode that bull with all his heart and soul.

He made his name known, 

outside of the little place he called home. 

II.  My Hero

You are my rock, the one who keeps me grounded.
And we both know you never get enough credit for what you do.

 So here I am, writing this for you.  

Raising 5 not so angelic kids wasn’t easy,
the fact that you stuck through it meant the world to me.

And though the older ones would disagree,
you know damn well we were all pretty needy.
Our attitudes and wants were only a small pebble compared to the boulders of struggles thrown at you throughout your life.

And still, I believe you’re the strongest man alive. 

Because you have faced hardships,
but not once have I ever seen anything break you down.
You have faced every difficulty with a smile upon your face, and a strong mind.

Dad, I have yet to reach the expectations you have set for me,
but with you by my side anything and everything is possible.
You have guided my siblings and me through our hardest of times,
and you have shown us that nothing is ever as bad as it seems.
And you should know.

You and mom, you had to struggle to bring us to where we are today.
A teen parent, with all odds against you,
with your back up against the wall, you had things to attend to.
You never backed down,
and look at you now.
You have five crazy kids,
with their momma’s attitude and daddy’s big heart.
And I know that we don’t always make things easy,
but you have never given up on us.

You believed in us when we couldn’t see past our own failures.
You have shown us that the view is worth the climb.

And you were right, because that Antarctica sunrise…
It was nothing like I’ve ever seen.
Daddy I’m chasing my dreams,
and I know you’ll stand right behind me.
Ready to protect me with those father instincts. 

Daddy, I speak for all of us when I say;
I appreciate every single thing that you do.
Growing up, I always thought my hero would wear a cape… 

But no, my hero goes by the name Smiley Ray. 

I love you pops. 

High School Runner-Up
Dear Hero
by Summer Montileaux

I. Hero

That’s the first thing that comes to mind when I think of you, “hero”.
No, you don’t wear a long red cape and can’t read my mind, but you certainly try.

Your superpower is knowing what mood I’m in or what I’m thinking,
just by looking at me.
Another superpower is your insane amount of wisdom
and the courage and strength that you share with me every day.

You work a 9-5 day, help teens at work,
offer guidance on a daily basis, but that
doesn’t end when you’re home.

You are the one to give me encouragement,
to remind me that I’m loved,
that I’m doing the best I can,
to share words of wisdom and make sure I never stray from my path.

You have been there through every loss and every gain.
Every heart break and every tear of joy.
Not once did you ever give up on me,
you stood by my side until I got back up on my feet.
I would not be here today without you.

I’ll never be able to repay you,
to give you anything in the world,
or find the words to express how
thankful I am for how you’ve loved, cared, raised, and treated me.

No,  you can’t fly or teleport,
but you can do a million things at once
and you are where you need to be.

Sometimes, I feel like a super villain
when we argue and I get too carried away
with my words/actions.

I know that I hurt your feelings sometimes,
or make you feel like you’re not doing a good job.
But you are the best thing I could ever ask for and the best person I have.

You do an amazing job, and I know you don’t get the credit and
the appreciation you deserve.

I’ve seen you cry when life hits you on the tough days
and I’ve seen you laugh and smile on the good days.

We have a stronger bond now
and I hope we never lose that
even if we argue about me spending too much time on social media or how much coffee I drink.

I love you, so so much..

I am your little sidekick and I wouldn’t have it any other way.



For everything you’ve done
and for the things you will do
because our journey doesn’t stop here.

We still have many years to come to conquer our goals, create memories,
to laugh and to cry, and to love each other.

You’re everything I could want in a “hero” but most of all,
you are my mother and best friend.

You saved me on my darkest days and loved me hard on the good days.

I’ve known you my entire life, but you’ve only known me for 17 years.

I know I’ve given you grief, laugh, smiles, love and everything in between.

But nothing could ever equal the love that I’ve received throughout my entire life from you.

You will always be my hero.

II. Dear Hero

Thank you. I love you, and I will spend the rest of my life making you proud

and loving you unconditionally. I know sometimes I forget to tell you

I appreciate you, but I do, everyday and every hour. I look up to you, and

you are my inspiration for everything.

Thank you for having me as your sidekick.

The Middle School Writing Challenge Winners

Red Cloud

“Red Cloud,” The Famous People website,//www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/red-cloud-5085.php (accessed Apr 15, 2017).

Middle School Grand Prize Winner
Chief Red Cloud
by Lane Anthony Bordeaux

Snow covers hard ground,

groups of people follow you,

Fought the Government,

Built a school of all ages,

Died the same place I was born.

We Are Here

Middle School Runner-Up
Cauterize Me
by Rose Rosales-Kleinhans

I heard you when no one was there
your words stinging
As I watched the blood drip from my fingers
You spoke of your troubles
You were where I was once
Swallowed by a black hole of hurt and judgment
You understood
You spoke of your hurt
Your hate
Your regret
Your words were my drug
Your words
Your painful words
They whisked me away
Away from my painful standstill

No one knew
No one but you

Though your words burned me
They healed me

Because of you
I am still here.

Middle School Runner-Up
My Lakota Hero
by Thea DuBray

               There are many Legends and Heroes who are important to our history or culture. Heroes are inspirational to one person or another and might be your mom or dad or maybe even your older brother or sister. In everyone’s eyes, someone is their hero. I lost my mother a couple years back, and even though she is gone I am still part of a strong, brave and powerful family.

               Stacy B. DuBray is a superhero to me. She has long blonde hair, a beautiful voice, and she’s a great cook– she makes the best cake in the world. She helps me keep my head up and every time that I am feeling down, I don’t even have to tell her, because she just knows. I can talk to her about anything, and she reminds me everyday to smile.

               I honestly do not know what I would do with her in my life. She has always been there for me. Stacy B DuBray is the closest thing that I will ever have to a mother. She is my role model and teaches me things that I will need to know for the future.

               Stacy does not have any children of her own, but to her, I’m her only child and she treats me as if I am her actual daughter. She helps me with my homework, she always remembers to ask how my day was and she always checks up on me. She will always be the best in everything and has a lot of knowledge in that brain of hers — which she shares with me.

               Stacy is the best mom anyone could ever have and I love her.

               Stacy B. DuBray is and always will be my favorite person, my hero.

Middle School Runner-Up
The Sacred Woman
by Mia Murdock

I want to be like the Sacred Woman.
Though she became Christian
She still is a Lakota in every which way.
From another tribe she sprang,
Like the lilies from the river.
Like the powerful, she reigned.
Yet she was beautiful,
Inside she was.
She made the hopeless compassionate
She saw the beauty
The beauty you can’t see with bare eye
She seen love in all things.
She stood tall above the ground
Never did she think otherwise
She saw kindness in her people
She gave to the hungry
Outloud did she sing.
The love of her people,
Made her strong as can be.
She was humble, loving
And caring for all.
Most trustworthy
Reliable and lovely was she
Oh kind and graceful is how she is
With gracious movements
And with ability to achieve
She was all around perfect
And perfect will she always be.
That Kateri Tekakwitha
For she loves you and me.
For it was God she turned to.
With Tunkasila she stays.
To fly with the angels
To soar like a dove
To cure the poor in heart
To love and care for all
Kateri Tekakwitha
Hear me out
Your love and passion
May keep me in balance
But in my heart will you stay
With devotion and care
Well I’ll cherish you there
With hope and charity
You make my heart rain
Like the dew on the flowers
Or Like your eyes, so pure and white
Like snow on a the ground,
I hope you may always find love
Kateri Tekakwitha
Lily of the Mohawks

Middle School Runner-Up
Suicide Hotline Workers
by Jordan Derby

Dear Suicide Hotline Workers,
You are my heroes because of what you do. You hear about 1,000,000 and even more calls a day. You hear the stories of suicidal people because no one else will listen to them. Sometimes you have to hear the silence while that person is killing themselves. You won’t always help them and that is ok. You save the lives of people that could be 19, 19, 20 or 50 years old. You are there for them in times of need. You are the light that they needed in their world of darkness. You saved that person’s world, or their high too. You never deny a call, or the voice of someone who was never heard. You listen. You hear the heartbreak in people’s voices as you listen to their stories. You don’t always save somebody, but when you do, you have the weight of their life lifted off your shoulders. you are the people that help others in their time of need. I just thought that you needed to be thanked.

               You affected my life and the lives of others. You might have saved people that I know, when I couldn’t help them. You could have saved my mom, dad, brother, sister or best friends. You could have saved my world, and I thank YOU for that. Without any of these people that I named, my life would be a mess. You save the heartache and tragedy of others losing loved ones. Thank you for what you do. I know what it is like to listen to someone thinking about wanting to end their life. I’ve dealt with it, and I actually saved somebody twice.

Just once more, thank you, truly, for what you do.

Jordan Derby

Middle School Runner-Up
Dear Walt Pourier
by Ty Morgan

Dear Walt Pourier,

You are my hero because you sponsor me through Wounded Knee Skateboards. I want to thank you because anytime I need a new skateboard, you’ll give me one. Anytime I need someone to talk to, you’re always there for me. You’re the one who inspired me to skate. Thank you for building the Wounded Knee 4-Directions Skatepark. If it wasn’t for you and the skatepark, I wouldn’t even know what skateboarding is. I love to skate. Skating keeps me away from drugs, alcohol, and violence.

You are my hero also because you are a good artist. I love to draw. I am not too good at it, but your artwork inspires me to keep trying to get better.

You inspire me to help my community. Every time you come to the Rez, you have us pick up trash, and you reward us with a hat. You’re my hero!


Ty Morgan