Cierra Fields

FORT GIBSON, Okla. -- Cherokee Nation citizen Cierra Fields, 17, a senior at Fort Gibson High School, recently attended the Youth Summit Planning Council, or Raliance, on July 13-14 in Washington, D.C.

Fields said Raliance works to "end gender-based violence in one generation."

She said during the summit she and others worked to plan a youth summit for March in Washington, D.C.

"We are apart of the committee that is planning a youth summit for high-school age, like kids my age, and it has three different tracks, which is violence in sports, media and policy change," she said. "I'm on the subcommittee for the media. I'm the one who's kind of in charge of helping to recruit other Native high schoolers."

Fields said the planning council has presented its ideas for the summit.

"Basically we were all kind of coming together and laying out like the groundwork," she said. "What all we're going to be teaching, how we're going to be recruiting everybody."

Fields said although she was the only Native at the summit, she hopes to recruit others, especially from her community.

"I was the only Native there, so they relied very heavily on me especially for the recruitment of other Natives," she said. "I just really hope that I will be able to bring in a lot of Native children, especially those from Cherokee Nation, as I believe this is something not just our Nation but tribal nations need to learn about."

She said it's vital to inform Natives about the amount of violence, whether it is sexual or domestic, in their communities.

"I think it's a really big deal because Natives actually have the highest rates of gender-based violence. Sexual assault for men and women are the highest out of any other minority," she said. "We also have some of the highest rates of domestic abuse. So this is a conversation we need to be in."

Fields said this platform is important because it spreads sexual assault and domestic violence awareness to others.

"I believe this is important especially for youth because high school-aged teenagers...usually that's when the patterns of sexual violence start showing. It's when you're more likely to get targeted is when you are in high school," she said. "So it's going to bring awareness to those kids for what they need to watch out for."