Tanae Le Claire, Yankton Sioux
The 2017 NativeLove Youth Challenge Project received many diverse entries from tribes and tribal communities across the lower 48 and villages in Alaska. The NativeLove Challenge is both a digital media campaign and an art therapy–based activity offered during our trainings, workshops, assemblies, on-sites, and awareness events. This year, youth participated from remote villages in Alaska, in metropolitan cities, from tribal schools, at information and activity booths during both traditional and contest powwows, at community walks, and at awareness events and included entries from students as young as preschool up to college-age. We were given useful and important feedback from youth regarding bullying and the pacts of this intersection of bullying and dating relationships. We heard about youth centered-barriers of perceptions of consent, and disclosures about lookism, faith, and cultural abuse as a vehicle to perpetuate domestic violence. This year, we heard NativeLove means things like #NativeLoveIs: “Family,” “Culture, “Respect,” “Traditions,” “Elders,” “Being proud to be indigenous,” and “NativeLove is an action word.”
NativeLove, a project by the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, intends to develop tools and resources and use these important youth voices to inform how we can improve youth-centered advocacy and support adults in faith leadership, schools, and sports to prepare youth for a healthy future. Youth are the future, they are generation makers, and we have a lot to learn from them. The philosophy of NativeLove is to speak WITH youth, not AT youth. We change the concept of who is the “teacher” and who is the “student.” Also, one of the most important approaches is leading by example by promoting collaboration instead of doing anti-violence work in silos.
This year, our gifted theme from youth has been “Together” or “Unity.”
We are so excited for our 2017 NativeLove Challenge Winner Tanae Le Claire, daughter of Candace Le Claire. Tanae is a senior at Haskell University, this year’s Haskell Homecoming Queen, and represents the Gamma Delta Pi sorority. To her, NativeLove means “Unity” and we couldn’t agree more. When we treat each other with respect and value each other, we have the beginnings of ending violence in our communities and promoting unity is how we can accomplish those goals. Tanae has thought a lot about her future plans. She wants to work for Native people. She believes,
… by continuing my education and achieving a master’s degree in social work, I know I can focus on my passion to help indigenous people in urban areas. My goal is to professionally, and with my experience and passion, help those who need support adjusting and transitioning from reservation life to urban areas …
Candace Le Claire says of her daughter, “Tanae is very deserving of this trip for the NativeLove Challenge prize. She is a beautiful, young woman who respects her culture and heritage. Although Tanae has faced adversity throughout her life, she has overcome it to become a college graduate and is striving towards even bigger and better things. I know that one day she will be able to apply all that she has achieved to help our people.
Pilamaya (Thank you) Mitakuye Oyasin (We Are All Related)
We are so excited to introduce Tanae and have amazing things in early planning for her upcoming year cultivating NativeLove at Haskell University. She is beginning to plan her prize, a paid trip for two to a Native event of her choosing this year. After all, #NativeLove is lifting and celebrating our youth; they will change the world.