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Guest Blog Post: No More Essay Contest

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Written by Amber Loya RN, SANE

photo (37)In our recent  essay contest honoring sexual assault awareness month, two young ladies from Duck Valley Indian Reservation impressed judges with their  Native American youth-led solutions on how to stop violence and promote a culture of safety by re-claiming the values and heritage of Indigenous People.

The girls, Richelle Jojola (17) and Aunna Woods (18) took polar approaches with their recommendations on dealing with the heinous crime of sexual assault.  Richelle’s approach was a heart-touching treatise on the devastating emotional and mental effects of sexual assault. Her solutions include a call to have advocates available who are not just culturally appropriate but “who have personal experiences with abuse, so they can relate to their clients on another level, a closer level.” Reflecting on the comfort received through ceremonies found in her Native American church, Ms. Jojola also recommends a deep spiritual approach to healing from the wounds of sexual assault. Jojola entreats her community to offer restorative events for survivors such as the Sundance and a consistent, weekly sweat lodge time for victims who are “looking forward to healing and repairing themselves.”

Aunna’s approach is two-fold, prevention and justice.  First, she points to out that the loss of Native values has eroded the revered status of women and led to an identity crisis in teens who sometimes try to find their way by engaging in dangerous activities such as alcohol, drug use and gang activity. Ms. Wood points out, “The preservation of Native women is essential to the survival of tribes.” She calls on the community to “Imagine a world where all indigenous women are treated with the utmost respect.” Essentially, prevention of sexual assault and domestic violence can be facilitated through community education and the restoration of respect for women, a value Native culture once held dear. Her second focus is on strengthening the judicial system for Tribal authorities and to enforce mandatory punishment for abusers.

Both teens provided equally strong and convincing recommendations on how to re-claim the values of Indigenous People and promote a culture of safety.Therefore, these two bright young ladies have tied for first place in the essay contest and each will receive the full $200 cash prize. We look forward to seeing the future accomplishments of Ms. Richelle Jojola and Ms. Aunna Woods.

Read Aunna Woods’ essay here.

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