Student organizes first Native Youth Summit
Miss Cherokee Christy Kingfisher talks about the importance of pursuing a college career as Native Youth Summit organizer Cierra Fields, left, listens during the summit on Jan. 11 at Fort Gibson High School in Fort Gibson, Okla. TESINA JACKSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Tribal Councilor Cara Cowan Watts talks about the three branches of the Cherokee Nation’s government and how it works at the first Native Youth Summit on Jan. 11 in Fort Gibson, Okla. TESINA JACKSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
FORT GIBSON, Okla. – As part of a 4-H Club project, and to inform students about tribal government, Cherokee Nation citizen and former Little Miss Cherokee Cierra Fields organized the first Native Youth Summit, which was held Jan. 11 at Fort Gibson High School.
Attendees learned about the tribal government and its three branches and how they work, CN elected officials’ responsibilities, concepts of stewardship and citizenship, how the tribe’s election process works, education, Native oral traditions and cancer awareness and prevention.
“This is really cool stuff that people need to know and it would be really helpful in the future,” Fields, who attends Fort Gibson middle school, said.
Speakers included Tribal Councilors Cara Cowan Watts, Lee Keener and Don Garvin; CN Secretary of State Charles Head; Miss Cherokee Christy Kingfisher; Junior Miss Cherokee Julie Thornton; CN storyteller Robert Lewis; CN College Resource Center Director Mandy Scott; and Fields, a melanoma cancer survivor who spoke about cancer prevention. CN citizen Regina Thompson also shared her story of being a survivor of melanoma.
“They seemed like really cool people, and they all just seem to know so much and they have really important jobs in government so I thought it would be cool to have them there,” Fields, 13, said.
Fields’ mother, Terri Henderson-Fields, said her daughter decided to go into tribal government after she worked for the National Congress of the American Indian for voting this past year.
“And she held a voter rally in Fort Gibson, and then she got to talking with students at the rally and realized that none of them knew about their tribal government, let alone the federal government,” Henderson-Fields said.
So for her 4-H Club project, Fields began organizing the youth summit.
“4-H this year is now offering government and is allowing you to do tribal government and they’re also allowing the kids to have a project called cultural education,” Henderson-Fields said. “So Cierra is able to combine all of the stuff she does for Cherokee Nation and get credit for it through her 4-H program.”
Fields’ goal with the summit was to empower students to effect change within their communities by good citizenship and leadership.
“We thought it would be a neat way to start getting more Cherokee youth a little more involved in the political process so that by the time they turn 18, they’ll know how it runs and how they can change things,” Henderson-Fields said.
More than 70, parents, 4-H Club members and students attended the event, which was open for students in grades sixth through 12th.
“We opened it up to the public…because Cierra also thought it would be good to show the non-citizens the financial impact Cherokee Nation has on the community, and if our money was not here in this part of Oklahoma, look at all of these jobs that would not exist,” Henderson-Fields said.
CN citizen and Fort Gibson freshman Blake Henson said he found the summit’s information helpful.
“I really want to start an AISES (American Indian Science and Engineering Society) chapter at my Fort Gibson High School, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to learn about everything. But I also found it interesting how they talked about the government and cancer awareness,” he said. “I thought that was really helpful.”
This year, the Native Youth Summit was only one day. However, in the future, Field said she hopes to make it into a two- or three-day event.
“She has actually written a grant and we find out in March if she wins the grant. We’re shooting for a $1,000 grant, then this fall she will have a full-day summit,” Henderson-Fields said. “Her goal is, during her high school years, she would like to see this made into a two- or three-day conference and then invite all the tribal nations in the state of Oklahoma.”
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ᏧᏍᏆᎦᏟ ᏗᏐᏴᎢ, ᎣᎦᎵᎰᎹ. ᎾᏍᎩ ᎯᎠ ᎨᎸᏗᏙ ᏅᎩ-H ᎤᎾᏓᏡᎬ, ᎠᎴ ᎾᎿ ᏧᏃᎯᏎᏗ ᏗᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎩ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᏂᎳᏍᏓᏢ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎤᏙᏢᏒ ᎠᎾᏓᏅᏖᎵᏙᎯ, ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎨᎳ ᎠᎴ ᎦᏙᎩ ᎤᏍᏗ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏔ ᏳᎵᏍᏔᏅ Cierra Fields ᎤᏓᏅᏖᎴ ᏚᏬᏢᏁ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎢᎬᏱ ᎠᏂᎯᏯ ᎨᎳ ᏗᎾᏛᏍᎩ ᏒᎻᏗ, ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎤᏃᎸᏔᏂ ᏌᏚᏏᏁ ᎤᏍᏆᎸᎮ ᎾᎿ ᏧᏍᏆᎦ ᏗᏐᏴᎢ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗᎢ.
ᎠᏁᏙᎯ ᎤᎾᏕᎶᏆᎥ ᏂᎦᎵᏍᏔᏅᏍᎬ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎤᏙᏢᏒ ᏄᏩᎾᏅ ᎠᎴ ᏦᎢ ᏚᏩᏂᎦᏢᎨ ᎠᎴ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᎢᏧᏛᏗ ᎤᏂᎲᎢ, ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎤᏑᏰᏒ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎠᎾᏓᏅᏖᎵᏙᎯ, ᎡᎵᏊ ᏗᎬᏩᎾᏓᏘᏅᏍᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎨᎳ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵᎢ, ᏄᏍᏛ ᏂᎦᎵᏍᏗᏍᎬ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎠᏂᎳᏍᏓᏢ ᏗᏙᎩᏯᏛ ᎠᏂᎩᏍᎬ, ᏗᏕᏲᏗ, ᎡᎯᏯ ᎠᏂᏁᎬ ᏄᏍᏛ ᏧᏂᎶᏒ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏓᏰᏍᎩ ᎠᎦᏎᏍᏙᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏎᎷᎩᏍᎩ.
“ᎯᎠ ᎢᎦ ᎣᏍᏓ ᎧᏃᎮᏢ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᏂᏴᏫ ᎤᎾᏅᏗ ᎢᏳᎵᏍᏙᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎠᎵᏍᏕᎸᏙᏗ ᎤᏩᎦᏗᏗᏒᎢ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬ Fields, ᎾᏍᎩ ᏧᏕᎶᏆᎥ ᏧᏍᏆᎦᏟ ᏗᏐᏴᎢ ᎠᏰᏟ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗᎢ.
ᎦᏬᏂᏍᎩ ᎠᏠᏯᏍᏛᎢ ᏗᎦᎳᏫᎦ Cara Cowan Watts, Lee Keener ᎠᎴ Don Garvin; ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᏗᎪᏪᎵᏍᎩ ᎾᎿ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ Charles Head; ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏔ Christy Kingfisher; Junior ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏔ Julie Thornton; ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎧᏃᎮᏢᏍᎩ Robert Lewis; ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᏩᎦᎸᎳᏗᏴ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᎤᏅᏔᏂᏓᏍᏗ ᎠᏰᏟ ᏄᎬᏫᏳᏒ Mandy Scott; and Fields, ᎾᏍᎩ ᎻᎵᏃᎹ ᎠᏓᏰᏍᎩ ᎤᎦᏛᎴᏒ ᎤᏃᎮᏢ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᏓᏰᏍᎩ ᎬᎭᎷᎩᏍᏗ ᎨᏒᎢ. ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎨᎳ Regina Thompson ᎾᏍᏊ ᎤᏃᎮᏢ ᎤᏩᏌ ᎾᏍᏊ ᎤᎦᏛᎴᏒ ᎨᏒ ᎾᎿ ᎻᎵᏃᎹ ᎠᏓᏰᏍᎩ.
“ᏙᎯᏳ ᎠᏃᏍᏛ ᎠᏂᏴᏫ ᎨᏒᎢ, ᎠᎴ ᏂᎦᏓᏮ ᎤᎪᏓ ᎤᎾᏅᏗ ᎨᏒ ᎠᎴ ᎤᎵᏍᎨᏓ ᏧᏂᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᏗ ᏚᏂᎭ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎤᏙᏢᏒ ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᎣᏍᏓ ᏱᎩ ᎠᏇᎵᏒ ᎤᏁᏓᏍᏗᎢ,” ᎤᏛᏅ ᏠᎨᏏ ᏦᎦᏚ ᎢᏳᏕᏘᏴᏓ.
ᏠᎨᏏ ᎤᏥ, Terri Henderson-Fields, ᎤᏛᏅ ᎤᏪᏣ ᎠᎨᏳᏣ ᏚᏭᎪᏔᏅ ᎤᎦᏎᏍᏙᏗ ᎤᏪᎳᏗᏓᏍᏗ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎤᏙᏢᏒ ᏚᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎸᏃ ᎾᎿ ᎬᎾᏕᎾ ᏩᏥᏂ ᏗᏂᎳᏫᎩ ᎾᎿ ᎠᎹᏱᏟ ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯ ᎠᏂᏁᎦ ᎤᎾᏙᏢᎯ ᏐᎢ ᏧᏕᏘᏴᏌᏗᏒᎢ.
“ᎠᎴ ᎠᏂᏁᎦ ᏚᎾᏓᏟᏌᏅ ᎾᎿ ᏧᏍᏆᎦᏟ ᏗᏐᏴᎢ, ᎠᎴ ᏓᏟᏃᎮᏔᏂᏙᎲ ᏗᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎩ ᎾᎿ ᏓᏁᏙᎲ ᎠᎴ ᎤᏕᎶᎰᏒ Ꮭ ᎩᎶ ᏳᏅᏖ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᎨᏒ ᎠᏂᎳᏍᏓᏢ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎤᎾᏙᏢᏒ, ᎾᎴᏍᏊ ᏂᎬᎾᏛ ᎠᏰᎵ ᏚᏙᏢᏒᎢ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬ Hendersn-Field.
ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᏅᎩ H ᎤᎾᏙᏢᎯ ᏯᎾᏛᏁᎯ, ᏠᎨᏌ ᎤᎴᏅᎲ ᎠᏛᏅᎢᏍᏗᏍᎬ ᎨᎳ ᏗᎾᏛᏍᎩ ᏧᎾᏠᎯᏍᏗᎢ.
“ᏅᎩ H ᎯᎠ ᏧᏕᏘᏴᏌᏗ ᏃᏊ ᎠᏂᏍᎪᎸᏗ ᎠᏰᎵ ᏚᏙᏢᏒ ᎠᎴ ᏣᎵᏍᎪᎸᏓᏁ ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᎠᏂᎳᏍᏓᏢ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎤᎾᏙᏢᏒ ᎠᎴ ᎠᎾᎵᏍᎪᎸᏗᎭ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᎤᎾᎦᏎᏍᏙᏗ ᏣᏃᏎᎭ ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯ ᏳᎾᏛᏁᎵᏓᏍᏗ ᏧᎾᏕᏲᏗᎢ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬ Henderson-Fields. “ᎾᏍᎩᏃ Cierra ᎡᎵᏊ ᏗᎬᏩᎵᏍᏙᏗ ᏂᎦᎥ ᎾᏛᏁᎲ ᎾᎿ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎠᎴ ᎤᎩᏍᏗ ᎠᏎᏍᏙᏗ ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᏅᎩ-H ᎤᎾᏙᏢᎯ.”
ᏠᎨᏏ ᏚᏭᎪᏛ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎯᎠ ᏒᎻᏗ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏧᏟᏂᎪᎯᏍᏙᏗ ᏗᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎩ ᎤᏂᏁᏟᏴᏍᏗ ᎾᎿ ᏗᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᏓᏁᎲ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎣᏍᏓ ᎾᏛᏁᎲ ᎠᎴ ᏓᏓᏘᏂᏙᎲ ᎠᏂᎪᏩᏘᏍᎬᎢ.
“ᎣᏣᏓᏅᏖᏍᎬ ᎣᏍᏓ ᏱᎩ ᎯᎠ ᎤᎾᎴᏅᏗ ᎤᎵᏍᎨᏗ ᎢᏳᎾᎵᏍᏓᏁᏗ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ ᎨᎳ ᏗᎾᏛᏍᎩ ᎤᎪᏛ ᎤᏁᎳᏗᏓᏍᏗ ᎾᎿ ᎢᏳᎾᏍᏗ ᎠᏂᏯᎥ ᎠᏂᏁᏥᏙ ᏚᏙᏢᏒ ᎠᎢᏒ ᎠᎭᏂ ᎢᏕᎲ ᎤᎾᏓᏅᏖᏗ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏃᎴ ᏁᎳᏚ ᎢᏧᎾᏕᏘᏴᏓ ᏳᏌᏭᏟᎢᎶᏝ, ᏳᎾᏅᏗ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᎾᎾᏛᏁᎲ ᎠᎾᏂᎩᏍᏗᏍᎬ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏓᏁᏴᏍᎬ ᏧᏓᎴᏅᏓ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬ Henderson-Fields.
ᎤᎪᏛᏃ Ꮎ ᎦᎵᏆᏍᎪ, ᏧᎾᏓᎦᏴᎵᎨ, ᏅᎩ-H ᎤᎾᏓᏡᎬ ᎠᏁᎳ ᎠᎴ ᏗᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎩ ᎤᏁᏙᎸ ᎾᎠ ᎠᏍᏆᎵᏍᎬᎢ, ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᎵᏍᏚᎢᏓ ᎨᏒ ᏗᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎩ ᏑᏓᎵᏁ ᏗᏂᏂᏙ ᎠᎴ ᏔᎳᏚᏏᏁ ᎢᏍᏔ.
“ᏂᎦᏓ ᎤᏁᏓᏍᏗ ᎤᏂᎪᎶᏛᏗ ᎨᏐᎢ……. ᏅᏗᎦᎵᏍᏙᏗ Cierra ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᏓᏅᏖᎸ ᎣᏍᏓ ᎨᏒ ᎤᏂᎪᏩᏛᏗ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏁᎳ ᏂᎨᏒᎾ ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᏂᏗᎦᎵᏍᏙᏗᏍᎬ ᎠᏕᎳ ᎠᏂᎲᏍᎬ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᎤᏅᏙᏗ, ᎠᎴ ᎠᏕᎳ ᏂᎨᏒᎾ ᏱᎩ ᎠᎭᏂ ᎣᎦᎵᎰᎹ, ᎯᎠ ᏂᎦᏓ ᏗᎦᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᏗ ᏥᎩ Ꮭ ᏱᎦᎩ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ Henderson-Fields.
ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎨᎳ ᎠᎴ ᏧᏍᏆᎦᏟ ᏗᏐᏴᎢ ᏐᏁᎵᏁ ᏗᎦᏂᏙ Blake Henson ᏧᏙᎩᏓ ᎤᏙᎴᎰᏒ ᎯᎠ ᏒᎻᏗ ᎧᏃᎮᏍᎩ ᎠᎵᏍᏕᎸᏙᏗ ᎨᏒᎢ.
“ᎠᏆᏚᎵ ᎠᏆᎴᏅᏗ ᎾᏍᎩ AISES (American Indian Science and Engineering Society) ᎤᎾᏓᏡᎩ ᎢᏳᎵᏍᏙᏗ ᎾᎿ ᏗᏆᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗᎩ ᏧᏍᏆᎦᏟ ᏗᏐᏴᎢ ᎦᎸᎳᏗ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ, ᎾᏍᎩ ᎾᏇᎵᏒ ᎯᎠ ᎣᏍᏓ ᏯᏆᏜᏅᏓᏗᏏ ᎠᏆᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᏂᎦᎥ ᎪᎱᏍᏗ. ᎠᏎᏃ ᎢᏥᏩᏘ ᏄᎵᏍᎨᏗᏴ ᎠᏂᏃᎮᏍᎬ ᎯᎠ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎤᏙᏢᏒ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏓᏰᏍᎩ ᎤᎾᎦᏎᏍᏛᎢ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬ. “ᎨᎵᏍᎬ ᎢᎦ ᎠᎵᏍᏕᎸᏙᏗ ᎨᏒᎢ..”
ᎯᎠ ᏧᏕᏘᏴᏌᏗ, ᎠᏂᏁᏯ ᎨᎳ ᏗᎾᏛᏍᎩ ᏒᎻᏗ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏌᏊ ᎢᎦ ᎨᏒᎢ. ᎠᏎᏍᎩᏂ, ᎤᏩᎫᏗᏗᏒᎢ, ᎤᏛᏅ Fields ᎤᏚᎩ ᎤᏩᎭ ᏔᎵ ᎠᎴ ᏦᎢ ᎢᎦ ᎤᏍᏆᎸᏗᎢ.
“ᏙᎯᏳᏃ ᎢᎤᏬᏫᎳᏂ ᎠᏕᎳ ᎠᏔᏲᏍᏙᏗ ᎠᎴ ᏓᏲᏣᏕᎶᎰᏏ ᎯᎠ ᎠᏅᏱ ᎧᎴᏍᏗ ᎢᏳᏃ ᏳᎩᏌ ᎯᎠ ᎠᏔᏲᏍᏙᏗ. ᎣᎪᎯᏳ ᎾᎿ ᎠᎦᏴᎵ ᎢᎦ ᎤᏬᏪᎳᏅᎢ, ᏃᏊᏃ ᎯᎠ ᎤᎳᎪᎲᏍᏗ ᎤᏙᏓᏆᏗ ᏓᏳᏍᏆᎸᎡᎵ ᏒᎻᏗ,” ᎤᏛᏅ Henderson-Fields. “ᏚᏭᎪᏛ. ᎾᏍᎩ ᎦᎸᎳᏗ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᏓᏕᎶᏆᏍᎬᎢ, ᏳᏚᎵ ᎤᎪᏩᏛᏗ ᎯᎠ ᏔᎵ ᎠᎴ ᏦᎢ ᏧᏙᏓᏆᏗ ᎤᏍᏆᎶᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎾᎿ ᏗᎪᏎᏗ ᎤᏂᎷᎯᏍᏗ ᏂᎦᏓ ᎠᏁᎳ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎾᎿ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᎣᎦᎵᎰᎹ.”