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Tribal Advocacy: Tribal Voices

Updated: Oct 16, 2023

First and foremost, I want to say that I am delighted to be here and chosen to lead the organization. I see promise and partnering for the future. I wanted to reflect on tribal people and our ability to speak for ourselves and talk about tribal voices, why our voices, stories and perspective are important. Finding our tribal voice today is very important to all of our lives. I am blessed to be writing this column, but as I think of what I should write about many times I want to talk about hard issues and at the same time share what we as tribal people share and talk about. Tribal people are perceived in everyday life as a stereotype, I live that life daily. Society has learned to dehumanize us and our voices, this is all true however for me I like to share with everyone who reads this column, that, Yes, tribal people, we have suffered and we are struggling, however, no one ever tells you how beautiful our lives are, no one ever tells others how greatly humble and knowledgeable our elders are. No one ever speaks about how intelligent our youth are and how promising they are to our future. Not one time have I ever heard positive stories of overcoming hard issues or winning. Growing up I was taught we never become jealous of our people because we are all equal, we all have the same as everyone else. Yet something disrupted that teaching. Today we are struggling to live those teachings. We as tribal people need to get back to that, some never have left those teachings and some have to put them aside to compete/survive in everyday work life. Tribal voices and representation are so vital today because if we aren’t able to speak for ourselves someone will do that for us; that has happened in the past and has gone as far as making policies to do unintended harm to tribal people and thought they were helping. If we let others speak for us, sometimes the narrator/author(s) will never get what our needs are, they will never speak to what we as tribal people suffer from and why. They may also leave out the best part of tribal life. They can never speak to how beautiful our youth are, they can never speak with passion as to why tribal youth need to be around elders and how important our elders are. This is why tribal voices and perspectives are needed more now than ever. As I move closer to learning how tribal advocacy can be shared through this column and work I look forward to sharing my own life stories and history about how beautiful, and powerful our tribal culture is. In conclusion, I tell my close relatives this all the time. If you get a chance to go outside for a walk, sit by the water, connect with the land because we might need the land but it needs us too.I want to end with a question: How will you use your voice? Have a great rest of the week relatives!

Hohou! Nohuusoho'. Thank you! Yufna Soldier Wolf

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