Nation citizen Cierra Fields attends the White House Tribal
Youth Gathering in Washington, D.C. She was invited after
completing two challenges involving her efforts for lobbying
of cancer prevention and ending sexual assault. (courtesy
WASHINGTON Cherokee Nation citizen Cierra Fields recently
attended the inaugural White House Tribal Youth Gathering after
undertaking two Generation Indigenous challenges.
I was lucky that I was one of the people who was accepted
for it, Fields said. It was such an experience. We learned
a lot about our government and what theyre doing for Native
The gathering brought together Native American youths and members
of the U.S. government to discuss the Generation Indigenous initiative,
a project with the Native Youth Network working to improve the lives
of Native youths and cultivate the next generation of Native leaders.
The first challenge Fields submitted was her lobbying efforts
about cancer at the Oklahoma Capitol in March, in which she encouraged
people to wear sneakers with the intention of promoting healthy
lifestyles to reduce the risk of developing cancer.
As a 2014-15 CN Tribal Youth Councilor, Fields was also allowed
to submit the Cherokee Language 2020 Challenge, which asks community
members to use simple Cherokee phrases daily for the next five years.
It was pretty cool being able to go there because there
are so many other Native kids, and you got to learn about what they
did to get to the (summit), all their challenges and what was going
on with their tribe, she said.
In addition to the challenge requirement, Fields was required
to submit a letter of recommendation, a release form and a short
essay about how she would use her voice to help Native youths succeed.
First lady Michelle Obama also spoke at the event.
Each of you has something that youre destined to
do, whether thats raising a beautiful family, whether thats
succeeding in a profession or leading your community into a better
future. You all have a role to play and we need you, Obama
The gathering also discussed topics such as violence against
women and sexual assault, which is a personal mission for Fields
after being sexually assaulted in 2014.
They really focused on the Violence Against Women Act
and what they had been doing and the fact that things might be getting
done slowly, but changes are happening for Native people and that
they really did care about what was happening to us and were trying
to change it, she said.
Fields has been vocal about her assault to help others. She
lobbied Cherokee Nation officials to change its sexual consent law,
raising it from 14 to 16, and has drafted a national survey to compile
information that can be used to help victims from all tribes. She
also credits the CN One Fire Center for helping her through the
Fields wrote a letter to President Barack Obama in April expressing
the need for youth to instill a warrior mentality among
Native American men to protect children, elders and women from rape
She received a response letter from Obama in June along with
her acceptance to the gathering. In the letter, he writes: As
long as I hold this Office, I will do everything I can to address
these crimes no matter where they occurfrom our neighborhoods
and college campuses to military bases and tribal lands.
In addition to attending the summit, Fields spoke about how
social media can be used to create positive change in Indian Country
at the Native American Journalists Associations annual conference.
Fields finished the week by presenting with the We R Native
organization at the United National Indian Tribal Youth Conference
about mental and physical health.
Fields said with each conference, she gained more confidence
about what the Obama administration is doing for all tribes.
My biggest takeaway is that theyre proud of Native
youth, that were not forgotten, that theyre not just
waiting for us to die off, she said. They do want to
help change things, they just might need a little help once in a
while. They need to hear our voices.