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UNITY News: Cheyenne & Arapaho Youth Create a Safe Space for Healing

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As part of the three-day Healing Circle training, youth council members of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes practiced how to document their experiences by writing their own UNITY News article as a team. As part of strengthening youth voices, youth article submissions are welcomed by UNITY to be featured on their respective regional pages on the website. Together with their peer mentor each small group or “clan” captured the youth’s reflections on the training. Below is one of the youth submissions:

“Our clan was called the “Warrior Clan” and our mascot was the slapping medicine man. We had the smallest group at the Healing Circle with only 3 people, but that didn’t stop our group members from using the 10-step planning process to come up with the “Suicide Prevention Powwow.” The solution we came up with to address Native youth mental health needs was the planned powwow was centered around cultural and traditional healing for mental health while promoting suicide prevention programs.

When it was all said and done, one group member, Lo Perla, said that her clan made the entire experience fun, despite the challenges of learning brand-new skills for the first time. She said that overall she is thankful that she was in a good community and that she is learning to plan out activities to benefit the tribe.

Our other group member, Angelina, said that she really enjoyed working in the clans and that the planning process was difficult but it was really easy once she got the hang of the material and took her time to think about the process. It was more than event planning. Talking time to have deep conversations with critical thinking about community solutions was a new experience for the high schoolers.

There were a lot of new tools to help identify assets, risks, and protective factors. The final group member, Joran, said that the entire healing circle experience allowed him to learn about the traumas faced in the Native community and that he is really thankful for the experience. ”

Click here to watch the Cheyenne & Arapaho Youth Council present their projects to Tribal Council members to increase community safety in their tribe:

The peer mentor who helped guide this group through the Healing Indigenous Lives training was the UNITY’s 25 Under 25 Lily Painter of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma. P’áu:gyá tóñ:áñ: (Brings Water from the Creek) also known as Lily Aliesse Painter, is a video/filmmaker, and storyteller. She is a member of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma and the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska. Lily is a UNITY 25 Under 25 honoree for the 2022-2023 year, a former inaugural Remembering Our Sisters Fellow with the Center for Native American Youth, and an active member of various youth programs. Lily is a passionate advocate for Native youth grassroots efforts to amplify their voices on a national level.