STILWELL – Cherokee Nation citizen and Stilwell High School senior Mika Chuculate was selected by PBS Frontline to be part of a year in COVID-19 documentary airing across the country on April 26.
Chuculate recently created an image from her experience at a “Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women’s Summit” at Tulsa’s Gilcrease Museum. Her work will be featured in the documentary alongside four other students chosen from around the globe including Los Angeles; Tampico, Mexico; Port Elizabeth, South Africa; and Tel Aviv, Israel. Chuculate’s image and writing will appear on all PBS Frontline social media as well as their website and twitter in every state across the United States.
“When we drove up to the Gilcrease we saw all these red dresses hanging from the trees to represent the women who’ve gone missing and murdered across the country. Our teacher, Ms. (Faith) Phillips, hadn’t noticed the dresses until we pointed them out to her. I asked her to take our picture standing next to the dresses,” Chuculate said. “To me and my classmates, who are also Cherokee, it was a message to all those women and their families to say you are not forgotten, and we’re still here to help tell your story. We made the podcast for a NPR contest but when it came out, it touched so many in our community, that it became something much larger than a student competition.”
The caption with the photo read: “Indigenous women across this nation and beyond have been going missing. There has been no justice served to these women. Indigenous women are murdered at a rate ten times higher than any other ethnicity. Covid is not the only pandemic in this country. #MMIW” - Mika Chuculate
Chuculate curated the image and text for “Different Ships, Same Storm — e2 Education & Environment,” a writing project undertaken by Stilwell High School’s Advanced Creative Writing Program. The program is designed to create empathy for a shared experience and connection among young people during this difficult time around the globe.
According to the DSSS website, “This global community of creative youth meets virtually to share images and prose about the pandemic. Together the students became a powerful community eager to learn from each other. They grew connected during a time when real world interactions, routines and pastimes were limited.”
Chuculate’s image came about after she worked with her classmates to produce a podcast MMIW Podcast on the topic of MMIW for the NPR Student Podcast Challenge: “Home.” After the podcast was published, the senior and two of her co-producers, Tyla Sawney and Jimma Fuson, traveled to the Gilcrease Museum, where they attended an MMIW summit hosted by CN first lady January Hoskin called “Giving A Voice to the Missing.” The event included notable panelists and “Red Dress Project” artist Jaime Black, a member of the Métis Tribe who created the “Red Dress Project” as “an expression of her grief and her feeling of connectedness to fellow Indigenous women.”
After graduation Chuculate plans to pursue a career in law enforcement.
“I’m really proud to be a Cherokee, and I'm proud to be from Stilwell. I love our community,” Chuculate said.
The Frontline documentary, “The Virus That Shook The World, Part 1” airs Monday. For information, visit https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/schedule/.