Hello, my name is Janessa Willeto and I am 16 years old. I was a member of the 2017 Native Youth Summit. Before coming into this summer, I was holding onto a lot of anger and sadness but with gentle and direct action, I was able to feel a whole lot better about myself and the way I was feeling. So, thank you CSVANW. Much love! <3
This summit was a coalition of teens, or just about any person who is interested in making a social change for our communities, which I found really helpful! This summit for myself, provided a comfortable-learning environment, making it easy for me to learn and process the information that was given from the workshops which were facilitated by many inspiring individuals. All mentors during the summit informed us how to put use of our strength, power, and unity to create a better and healthier community among ourselves.
My experience at this Native Youth Summit was very self-awakening and powerful. I was able to learn from different workshops where I could take part in something to create a change for our generation and for the ones yet to come because the eyes and hearts of the little ones are all around us. To also find our voice and learn the appropriate words to take action on deciding what we can do, can’t do, and we will do with the help, support, and encouragement which we received significantly from the chaperones and staff of the summit. I was able to feel free with the way I felt about certain topics without feeling obligated to feel a certain way, or just being able to show my emotions in a judgement-free zone. Smudge don’t judge!
I took healthy risks by practicing engagement and getting out of my comfort zone in a safe environment. I’m referring to when we all went to the Santa Fe Mountain Center. To take everything we did physically and mentally, we learned that throughout our lives there will be times when we will feel fear but we will continue to charge, protect, and uplift ourselves.
From this summit, I learned self-care is essential, knowledge is powerful, and giving back to Mother Earth is important! Our thought is powerful, but as people who experience trauma, pain, and harm, we must hold onto visions to be because the Creator gave us one body to carry our spirit for our lifetime. How you care for it and what you feed it is up to you. Do not fear your own anger, there will be things you can control and things you cannot. Words have power to harm or lift us up but you must live life with purpose and good intentions.