UNITY Youth Spotlight: Terran Ree Poitra
Hello, my name is Terran Ree Poitra and I greet all of you with a good heart. My Indian name is Many Branches; my name was given to me by my grandmother Phyllis Lincoln. I am the daughter of Delaine Clairmont and Cornell Poitra Sr. I am an enrolled member of the MHA Nation, and I am a part of the Dripping Dirt Clan; the AWA Xia. I currently reside in Mandaree, North Dakota on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation. I am 16 years old, and a junior at Mandaree Public School. My other Affiliations include the Sicangu Lakota Oyate (Rosebud Sioux), Turtle Mountain Chippewa, and Northern Cheyenne. I am a part of the Fort Berthold Unity Chapter. I practice in my culture through dancing and attending ceremonies. Throughout my existence, I have always been drug and alcohol-free and will continue to remain this way.
For me, I guess I always knew how to draw since I was little, my mom always used to say you could find me wherever a pencil and paper were. I appreciated all forms of art and time it takes to make each piece. I have many favorite artists, but my absolute favorite artists are Paul Gobel and Wakeah Jhane. Both their illustrations and paintings are incredible. I loved how each piece of work told stories and each had a meaning.
The earliest works in my art started when I was in about the 6th or 7th Grade. I remember seeing my mother’s Indian name and I wondered how it would look illustrated into a being. I drew her and from there came the rest of my work. My drawings also came from what I I connect to; the things I love like people, animals, trees, and water. I realized that I need to draw those things for me and for others. I wanted each work to be a part of a system of many different tribes and including me; from different backgrounds and their names that their grandmother or grandfathers have given to them.
I wanted to start drawing ledger art and pow-wow dancers of different people all across the continent. I thought about how beautiful it would be if I could capture those movements and memories onto paper. From pow-wow dancers then visions of how our ancestors used to courtship one another, and how strong women carried such beautiful children in stunning cradleboards.
Most of my work people ask for, come from trades. I don’t usually like my work being done for money, but I will take it if they are unavailable for trades. I believe that once my work is done for money that’s all it will ever be for, and I’ll lose the passion. Before I started sharing my work there was a point in time while I started drawing I was ridiculed for the things I did on paper, that my work wasn’t good enough or it looked like someone else’s. It wasn’t me, it’s not original. It hurt because I am young and still learning. If I do wrong I want people to help me, not belittle me. I stopped for a while and had canceled orders because of the state which I was in.
My mother and Grandmothers had persuaded me to keep going, to not let other people’s judgment bother me. From these bad happenings, good happenings will come too. So it did. From my drawings, I have created tattoos and jackets for many people. My work was published on a Valentines Card for the wonderful G.M. Davis (Dine/Navajo). When I draw; I draw for myself and others, this is my passion. This is how I express myself in whatever form it is, and it makes me feel good when I know one of my pieces will be hanging in someone’s home or given as a gift. I draw because it has become a part of me, who I am. This is a way I can connect with others through a visual representation. Usually, I draw for my grandma, I like drawing for her because each piece I make she uses as designs or a decoration in her home. I love her a lot and to be able to do this for her makes me really happy.
I’m blessed with the creativity the creator has given me and will continue to use it. I hope from this I can inspire other amazing people to start creating beautiful work too. Thank you to my family and friends who support me! Also a huge thanks to UNITY for asking me to do this! I am forever grateful.