Reflections on my June trip to the Navajo Nation in Arizona
I have been going on trips to the Pine Ridge Lakota Reservation for about two years now to volunteer. This last June, a group of young people including myself went to the Navajo Nation in Kayenta, Arizona. Some people I had met before, some I was meeting for the first time. We had all gathered together with the intentions of getting to know each other, of bonding, and figuring out how to work together to make a better world between us, a world in which there was trust between us, the Native and non-Native.
Despite having been on trips with the Tipi Raisers before, I found this experience to be something even a bit more special, if that could be possible. There were nine of us, six girls and three boys. The six of us crowded into a modern hogan, sharing beds and sinks and showers and stories. Within a day, the girls in my room felt like sisters. Sharing my space with them felt only natural and desirable, there was never a feeling of loneliness. As the days passed, we all spent time together in the circles, talking, opening our hearts, learning about ourselves and each other. It was a profound feeling to realize that these people who had been strangers only a day before felt the same exact feelings as I did, the same joys, delights, even sorrows. I had felt quite alone for a while, and suddenly I was within a family that welcomed me and held my heart and my hands and let me be exactly who I am, no expectations, only honesty.
We were met in this amazing place by two incredibly beautiful people; a woman called Belinda and a medicine man called Darryl. These people, who were also strangers before, came in and became family as well, and it felt as if we’d all been around each other all our lives. To look across the circle and see these suddenly familiar faces, to walk into my room and see five sleeping girls that were now my sisters changed my life. All barriers that might have existed vanished. Despite being one of the two non-Native out of the nine of us, it never crossed my mind that I was the only non-Native girl in the room. To me I was simply with my sisters, and I knew they felt the same way. We shared our cultures and memories and hopes and dreams, and all I felt was a sense of unity and oneness. It was heartbreaking to say goodbye at the end of the week, but our hearts are still connected; there’s a string that holds us together until we can see each other again.
This was Crazy Horse’s vision. That Native and non-Native would unite and share their worlds, to feel like one family, to share one hope and goal, to have love between us despite having grown up different. To address and heal our traumas together, to hold hands and bring our hearts close together and realize that we are truly the same.
This trip truly brought the dream that Crazy Horse had 7 generations ago to life. It has become my mission to make sure that I, a youth in the 7th generation, refuse to let our differences divide us, to work with my Native and non-Native brothers and sisters to make a better world for all of us. Mitakuye Oasin.
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