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By pausing to consider the magnitude of their task, by hearing their stories as they fight every item on the by-products of poverty list, we can help them redeem the dignity they so crave for their people." — Mariane Pearl, Journalist & Author, Managing Editor, CHIME FOR CHANGE.
The neighborhood was known in Albuquerque as the “War Zone,” and the squat concrete building at the end of the road, its paint peeling in the New Mexico sun, didn’t do much to try and dispel the nickname.
The activism, the passion, the march across campus: they are fueled with this fire, the memories of what happened in this building and before it — the violence of her childhood, the homelessness and poverty.
Hope’s identity as young Navajo activist is tied up in the trauma of growing up Native in the US today, with all of the systemic challenges and inequities that brings.
She showed off a pile of donated goods for the water protectors at Standing Rock — she’s been four times since the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline began — and even introduced herself in her native language, Navajo.“We introduce ourselves not only as a person but who we are as a community and where we’re from,” she says.
“That’s how we greet each other.”But back at the shelter, as Hope nervously approaches the gate, turning her face to avoid being recognized by the property manager, the two disparate versions of her begin to form into a whole.
The most recent reauthorization of the federal Violence Against Women Act, in 2013, expanded the protections of Native women, giving tribes jurisdiction to prosecute some domestic violence criminals in tribal courts.
Republican Congress members opposed the expansion, but eventually a bill with limited expansions was passed.
It is vital that these young women, who are bravely breaking the silence that is killing them, be heard by all of us.
The lack of basic facilities, the joblessness, sex trafficking, absence of culture, fetal alcohol syndrome, drunk violence, joblessness and mere desperation are daunting.
This is what Anna* and Hope from the new Native American movement are standing against, and at stake is the very survival of their people, no less.
Together, they are standing together with a message that Native people deserve to be heard.
And for a change, the world finally seems to be hearing them. C., this week, thousands of Native Americans, including Hope, are descending for the Native Nations March, from the National Mall to the White House.
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