A forerunner in attending the Native Action Network, this article in Indian Country Online is a great source of summary of what Native Action Network for 2013. I had a great opportunity to attend the 9th Annual Native Action Network in Swinomish Lodge, Anacortes, Washington. The Native Action Network is designed to give young Native Women, between high school and 4th year of college to come together and join forces for encouragement, confidence building workshops. We could find common ground to work together for the greater good of issues concerning Native American and all Indigenous communities. Here is a link to the Facebook page. The theme to this year's Native Action Network was "The Power of Indigenous Women - Linking Hands Cross Borders." This conference was powerful in spirit and presence of embracing change and unity! I found myself filled with pride and strength to know that my interests lie with improving the lives of Native Communities around the world, is not just a passion of mine, but others too! The speakers and panels at this conference brought us laughter and joy, as well as tears, and bringing the realistic issues conflicting Natives today! This was not just a conference of networking, but also honoring of Individual women who embody the "Enduring Spirit" award. There have been about 42 honorees since the very first Native Action Network event in 2001. This years honorees were: Virginia Bill from Upper Skagit, Beverly Peters from Swinomish, Teri Gobin from Tulalip, and Patsy Whitefoot from Yakima. If you would like to read more about what there remarkable women have done please visit the Enduring Spirit website.
One of this year's featured speakers was Michele Audette from Canada. She is a remarkable women for her work and dedication to shedding light onto many issues concerning Indigenous women of Canada. She is the President of NWAC, standing for Native Women's Assocation of Canada. Here is a little write up about Michele and her works from The Canadian Journalism Foundation. I got a chance to speak to Michele and was "star-struck." She was a remarkable women and took time to take a picture with me, but then in turn asked me to take a photo with her on her iphone! I was surprised and honored in that moment! Here is an image of all the speaks in attendance to the event for 2013, every single speaker had something to contribute and inspire us all with:
I came away from this weekend conference with more than just hearing stories of others' leadership, but rather an empowerment to keep doing what I am doing, because I know there are others out there that do care! I want to be a voice for those who cannot speak, I want to stand for those who cannot stand, and I want to encourage other Native youth to enrich their futures by participating in opportunities like this! There were numerous moments that were breathtaking and so empowering throughout the weekend! I remember one moment when an elder woman was giving thanks for the weekend and at the end of her talk she began singing. Then the after a few verses of singing, the whole room erupted and followed her in song, singing along! We all did not know the words, nor were we all singers, but everyone was supportive in the efforts of others! It was a blessed moment to be apart of! I encourage all young women between their senior year in high school and their senior year in college, they should apply for this great opportunity any given year! Please contact Enduring Spirit. In addition any emails can be sent too: firstname.lastname@example.org A special thanks to the Co Founders of Native Action Network: Iris Friday and Claudia Kauffman. These women not only encourage others to be leaders, but they too embody what it means in "Declaring out Power and Defining our Future," this year, 2013's theme for young women! In addition a huge thank you to all the women volunteers that help with the background work to make this event happen annually! They are some of the most amazing people you will ever meet! Take charge and get involved!
Misha Averill is a senior at the University of Washington, majoring in American Indian Studies with a minor in Diversity. Her future aspirations include helping Native American communities through preservation of traditions, culture, language, and human rights. Misha has a special interest in Indigenous Rights and cross-culture interactions, and she hopes to attend law school for tribal government and Indian law.