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NIEA Convention- Educational Sovereignty: It Begins with Us

Last week, October 18-21, Albuquerque, New Mexico was the hotspot for indigenous educators to gather from across the country- myself included. It was a conference full of educational leaders, activists, and elders/knowledge keepers who kept spreading the same message: It begins with US. Educational sovereignty begins with US. Tribal sovereignty begins with US. Activism begins with US.

In many of our communities, WE are the ones who must light the torch that will be passed down to continue fighting the good fight that gets us in, what many call, "good trouble". We always hear the same stories about marginalized students being at the bottom. It is up to US to begin correcting that narrative. It is up to US to work to get our kids to see their worth and value. It is up to US to get our kids to understand that they don't have to fit into the western mold of "success" to have value, and that they can be successful however they wish.

The keynote speakers at the NIEA Convention included the names Matika Wilbur (yes, I about fell down from being starstruck)- author of Project 562 and Angeline Boulley (again- fell over)- author of Firekeeper's Daughter and Warrior Girl Unearthed. It was amazing to say the least.


There were also less-known speakers, such as a beautiful married couple who are Hawaiian Native who shared their story of bringing back the Hawaiian language into their home to the point that it was their children's first language- not English. They were the ultimate embodiment of educational sovereignty beginning with us, and it was such a heartfelt tribute to the week's events.

One of the most profound thoughts that was shared that has stuck with me was this- "You must stand for something, otherwise you will fall for everything". It left me speechless. If you know me, then you know that me being self-described as "speechless" doesn't happen often...if ever.

So, here is your reminder to not give up. Remember- it begins with US. You. Me. Each of us. Because if you don't stand for something, you'll fall for everything. Keep fighting the good fight, and keep finding good trouble.


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