August 25th, 2015 Last Updated on: January 20th, 2022
Meet Isabella Zizi, a 21 year old Northern Cheyenne Arikara and Muskogee Creek woman who was given an incredible opportunity to attend the White House Tribal Youth Gathering on July 9th 2015. On a busy Thursday evening I had the pleasure of driving up to Richmond to talk with her about her experience in D.C, and to hear her thoughts on our youth today. We parked along side a cliff that overlooked the ocean and there in the slowly setting sun and the cooling air of the evening two indigenous women reflected on our country and where Isabella hopes to help bring her influence to even more young and growing minds.
Isabella Zizi first heard of the White House Tribal Youth gathering via Facebook, and had originally decided that she wouldn't be able to attend because the White House could not provide transportation or housing for attending youth, but because of the generosity of her friends, family and the Native American Health Center and Idle No More SF, she was able to attend.
They met in small groups of about 30 other youth and were assigned topics of discussion. Her group was assigned “Natural Resources and Climate Change.” Each youth was able to speak and compare the situations in their communities within this topic. They discovered that all communities struggled with water, lack of it, or quality of it. Within her group she was given the time and the attention of Federal Officials. She had this to say on her time to speak, “I actually let my voice be heard to some pretty important people. I learned that my opinion matters and can greatly affect my generation. I was so glad to see our youth stand together for our future.” She says also that she has gained inspiration, knowledge and support from people who believe in her and the rest of our youth, who's stories all deserve to be heard.
Zizi plans on starting her own local group for indigenous youth and allies. She wants to continue in the White House challenge to engage with her community in a positive way, and to inspire more youth to do the same.
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