Winners of the I Strengthen My Nation Challenge competition

Winners of the I Strengthen My Nation Challenge competition

Video length: 9:59

Transcript

[Paige speaking]

Hey, Uncle here and on behalf of We R Native, I’d like to congratulate all the youth and youth groups across the country who submitted artwork, creative expressions and community service project ideas for the first of its kind NIDA Challenge. Your entries demonstrated the inherent resilience of our communities and the power of cultural practices to protect our communities against drug and alcohol misuse. You can check out all the submissions on We R Native’s art gallery for ideas and inspiration on things you can do to strengthen your nation. Each and every one of us can do our part in big and little ways every day. And this led birth to amazing applications and amazing submissions of art, group projects and different ways to kind of address substance use in their communities.

[Jenna speaking]

Hello, [non-English]. Hi, my name is Jenna Murray. I am Eastern Shoshone. I’m from Las Vegas, Nevada, but my family is from the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming and my tribal headquarters are in Fort Washakie, Wyoming. I am the American Indian Alaska Native fellow at NIDA, and I worked with Kathy Etz and We R Native to put together this American Indian Alaska Native Youth Challenge Program.

We had representation from at least 37 different tribes throughout North America, which was really amazing. And of all those submissions for the art project, we had 26 winners, 22 individual projects and 4 group art projects. We loved the variety of projects that were submitted. We had charcoal paintings, acrylic paintings, interpretive dance and movement, traditional beadwork and so much more. As far as the community project goes, we had five different winners, and I would like to personally acknowledge and congratulate each group for their awesome work.

So, first we have the Bluebird Youth Group, who proposed a really cool plan for a camping retreat and cultural immersion weekend. We had the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board Youth Delegates, who also proposed sort of an immersion weekend that was a boot camp to create public service announcements surrounding the I Strengthen my Nation project, so that they can further deliver and express the message of the I Strengthen My Nation challenge project to youth across America.

Third, we had Abby Hilton, who proposed a program supported by a really well-researched paper describing the importance of peer support and really leaning on each other throughout recovery. I’d like to congratulate University of New Mexico Undergraduate Students. We had Alicia, Hannah, Chenoah and Kira. They planned an incredible three-day program for high-school and middle-school students. That was really the goal to enhance cultural connection and mindfulness, and support mental health.

Finally, we have Shadren Joseph, who proposed an indigenous boat-making project, to not only just pass on this really incredible tradition, but to allow participants to have a creative outlet, allowing them to become and stay resilient against drug use.

I felt deeply connected to this challenge program, because I am indigenous myself, and grew up in a community and family that suffers from substance use disorders. So, I really felt a personal connection here, and it was really incredibly inspiring. Moving forward, I think what this whole program really means to me is using your cultural connection, just forming those meaningful connections with your community and leaning on each other through hard times.

[Maya speaking]

I'm Maya. I'm 14 and I'm marijuana free.

[Anna speaking]

My name is Anna. I'm 15 years old and I'm marijuana free.

[Maya speaking]

My culture, my choice.

[Anna speaking]

My culture, my choice.

[Maya speaking]

So, I just wanted to share that I come from a long line of addiction in my family and I'm here to break that chain and be better than what I'm said to be because of my family.

[Anna speaking]

My grandma, some of my uncles and aunts live on the reservation.

[Maya speaking]

I think the native culture is very beautiful. We are reaching out to different coalitions. And we also have our planning on making more videos like this. We also have our youth group that does a lot of like local community kind of things. We started making the video we had talked about how many dispensaries have been getting put up on colonies especially. And so, coming from like a young kid who lives on the colony like that's what we're around and that's what we want to say. Like the kids, like, just 'cause you're around. It doesn't. We have to do it. Our tribes are trying to help youth become drug free and have a new transition into life.

[Anna speaking]

I love, like, why what we do and like protecting like kids from like marijuana use or any drug abuse. So, I think it's really cool to like, get a video out there showing that. They don't have to just do that. They can do anything, even if something's going on, it's hard. Go on. Do what you love, like sports, musicals, art, do whatever you can to occupy yourself, make you happy. And choose the right choice. My culture, my choice.

[Sierra speaking]

Hi, my name is Sierra Buffalohead. I am part of the Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma, and I am also part of the Omaha Tribe. With most of my family being out of Omaha, it's mostly just me, my aunt, my brother. Phones, Facebook, texting. That's how we could all stay connected, how we keep in touch. So, I took the night landscape and thought of a filter. A filter people use to make themselves look better, make themselves feel better about themselves. And so, if you have a landscape in your life or a dark patch in your life, people would use filters to make it seem 

brighter and make them feel happier. I thought, think of the phone as a brighter future.

[Caitlin speaking]

[Navajo greeting] Hello, my name is Caitlin Begay. I come from the Navajo Nation. I hope that my art is able to make people want to learn more about their culture and more about their identity and where they come from. Because a lot of my people are heavy drinkers and they are really into drugs. So, I thought that I should capture something beautiful that maybe they can see within themselves. And my inspiration was my identity and what I find beautiful within my culture and my identity. So, I included a portrait of myself and a figure of a woman, a Diné woman and the Navajo wedding basket, which represents the pattern of life. Táá hó'ájitéégóó. You can do all. It's all up to you.

[Kathy speaking]

My name is Kathy Etz and I'm the director of the American Indian Alaskan Native program at NIDA. So excited to be here today to congratulate the winners. Over the years as we've supported research on drug addiction among American Indian Alaska Native people. We've learned a lot about risk factors, but we've also learned about the incredible strength and resiliency, contained within indigenous culture and the amazing ideas that youth have for staying healthy and protecting their communities. This challenge competition was an opportunity to showcase and celebrate that strength and also have youth directly share their ideas about resilience to drug abuse, so that we can share those ideas with the world. The judges were absolutely wowed by the art and the ideas that used to stop drug abuse in their communities. These ideas can be leveraged to strengthen all indigenous nations.

[Nora speaking]

Hello everyone. I am Nora Volkow and I direct the National Institute on Drug Abuse and I'm very proud to be here with all of you to congratulate the winners of a challenge that actually takes advantage of the richness of the American Indian and Alaskan Native culture and their involvement in the wellbeing of each other and to use art as a means of communicating our experiences and in the process being able to help others. Thanks very much for this opportunity and I congratulate the individual winners and the group winners.

[Kathy speaking]

I'd like to thank Jenna for the creativity, passion and commitment she brought to implementing these challenges and also like to thank all of the people who submitted entries to these challenges. I'd like to acknowledge your creativity, strength and passion for enhancing your communities. It is clear that you will all make a lasting impact. From your families’ communities and continue to strengthen your nation.