Once in a while we see something a young person has done or created and it moves us. We created the Special Directors Award for just this purpose. This winter we were moved by one such young artist Sweetgrass American Horse. She is a 16 year old Lakota / Yakama young woman who lives in Gordon Nebraska – a small town which lies just on the border of Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Sweetgrass has been a student of ours for several years and we have watched her grow as an artist and as a caring and concerned human being.
In November Sweetgrass combined her artistry and her activism to participate in the #RocYourMocs movement to take a stand for a matter that concerned her deeply. She was troubled by the vast numbers of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and was even more troubled with the intense racism she felt was going on in her town. Despite the racism at her school – she went to school every day for a week dressed in her traditional clothing to take a stand and draw attention to #MMIW – and to make a statement that racism is not ok.
In her own words: “My name is Wanbli Ho Was’te Win (Good Eagle Voice Woman). My english name is Sweetgrass Doniecah American Horse. Not many people know about MMIW and I wanted to make it known by dressing in my moccasins, skirt, and leggings. I wanted to let people know we still exist. There has been a lot of racism in my school/town and I didn’t want to let it slide by not saying or doing anything.”
Today, December 26th, is also the anniversary of the Dakota 38 (+2). On such a day we felt it was important to lift up the young people using their voices to do good in the world.
The Special Directors Award includes a $100 cash prize, certificate, and art supplies. Congratulations Sweetgrass!