by Jacquelyn Córdova
IIYC Attends VoteRunLead's #RunAsYouAre Training
Have you ever dreamed of running for political office!?...Ya, us either.
As young mixed-raced women of many cultural backgrounds, we can’t say we’ve particularly felt “invited” to take part of the conversation.
The majority of all government elected positions are held by white men. 65%, to be exact. That means that 31% of the American population (white men) vote everyday on what will happen to your future. They vote on healthcare, education, reproductive rights, minimum wage, and most recently travel bans.
They decide which bills gets passed, which ones don’t, and many of them do this without consultation with their communities at large.
So, we wonder why we are in such a state of peril when it comes to the American Government?...that’s pretty much why.
A lack of diversity within any system leads to eventual self-disintegration.
How do we fix this? One organization whom we were honored to connect with this month was VoteRunLead, a non-profit organization that focuses on getting more women involved in United States legislature leadership positions by connecting women from all socio-economic, political, and cultural backgrounds, in order to build a support network of powerful women interested in running for office.
Four International Indigenous Youth Council (IIYC) members, in partnership with Seeding Sovereignty, an organization focused on nurturing indigenous women's leadership and generating discussion and action around what modern-day indigenous sovereignty means, attended the VRL National Run As You Are Conference in Minneapolis, MN.
Thoughts From the Youth
Micaela Iron Shell-Dominguez
“I went to the training with an open-mind and unsure of what to really expect considering I hardly ever get myself involved in politics,” said IIYC member Micaela Iron Shell-Dominguez. “But when asked to attend I couldn’t say no for a couple of reasons. First, I knew being a Native American womxn, I had to go and represent my people in a good way considering we are the first to walk and birth this nation. Secondly, I knew that I had support my community of womxn who are ready to lead. I was proudly raised by all womxn, my mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother...and I want to be able to share what I was taught as a young womxn to other young womxn as they are our future and it's important we remind them of how powerful they are and that without us, this world wouldn't exist.”
RIGHT she is, and our ancestors knew this. Many distinguished, sustainable, and truly healthy Nations had governing systems in place that not only honored the women’s sacred role in society, but held the women in the center of the circle as a way to learn from and support life, growth, and a good future for the next seven generations.
Since the beginning of time, the women have created the world around us. We have birthed the babies, fed the children, made the clothing, kept us warm, cooked the food, made the appointments, gotten the kids to school on time, educated the community… The role of a woman throughout shifting societies has been long and most certainly crucial.
Taos, New Mexico
As IIYC member, Jacquelyn Córdova states,
“The role of the woman is to create a home, and since the beginning of American politics, those who have been in power have not been able to do that. We find ourselves in isolated boxes without a home. Without community. Without clothes. Without food. Without a true education...Women are the bringers of life. And we need life right now. We need life in all ways possible. We need life brought back into our schools. We need life brought back into our foods. We need life brought back into our communities. So that is what we are here to do. That is what women bring to the table that men have not. For generations we have created our individual families, and now we are coming into the political systems to create families of a broader perspective. We are here to create and nurture our global family. Because we truly know that it takes a whole village and then some...to raise a child. So to take Western politics from this stage of infancy to the next level of inclusivity, we call on the women.”
Yes, we said INCLUSIVITY. Defined as “an intention or policy of including people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized.” AKA all POC (people of color), women, and most definitely LGBTQ+, trans, and differently-abled people.
IIYC member Simone Johnson expressed that,
“VRL recognizes that when it comes to women’s issues, we have to be cognizant of the fact that the issues experienced by Indigenous women are different from those experienced by Black women, and issues experienced by trans women are different from those experienced by differently-abled women.” She continues to say, “While many women experience similar challenges when it comes to sexism, socio-economic disadvantages and cultural understanding, it’s important to recognize that everyone has a unique perspective on ways to combat marginalization (for themselves and their communities) based on their unique lived experiences, which in the end helps us develop more impactful solutions to the challenges we face.”
Eagle Butte, South Dakota
Jasilea Charger, IIYC member from Eagle Butte, SD stated,
“This training taught me that there is a better way, a more positive way, to help my people grow and be self-sustainable. We can change our government, we can change the ways of the stubborn and comfortable. Myself, along with many other women have that fire inside of us to help the places and the people of our communities and together, we only strengthen that fire.”
Run As You Are!
So, what does it mean to lead? What does it mean to be a leader? What do you see in your community, in your school, in your backyard that needs improvement?
I think Simone speaks for all of us who attended the training when she says, “I was excited to spend a weekend with many women from many different backgrounds, who want to work together to uplift the communities they serve.”
We, as IIYC members, are honored to have been given the opportunity to show up in a good way for all our relations. We are honored to speak on behalf of our respective genders, communities, Nations, age groups, and organizations. And we are honored to have spent an inspiring weekend celebrating women and the wellbeing of our future generations.
About Seeding Sovereignty
Seeding Sovereignty is an organization focused on generating discussion and action around what modern-day indigenous sovereignty means. Seeding Sovereignty nurtures leadership development through peer-to-peer empowerment programs.
About the International Indigenous Youth Council
The International Indigenous Youth Council (IIYC) is an organization that was started and led by womxn and two-spirit peoples during the Standing Rock Indigenous Uprising of 2016, while peacefully protecting the Cannonball and Missouri Rivers against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The IIYC has extended its reach by establishing chapters across the United States, in regions including Chicago, Denver, Texas (Yanaguana Chapter), New Mexico and South Dakota. The IIYC is rooted in the protection of the elements and its council members have been brought together by the prayer for the water.
The IIYC aspires to inspire young individuals to build bridges of solidarity and become leaders of their communities through education, spiritual practice and civic engagement. Through action and ceremony, the IIYC commits to building a sustainable future for the next seven generations.