I am Oboy-tsahn (Kiowa for ‘always looking forward’). I am Comanche, Kiowa, and Oneida; I don’t consider myself to be more of one over the other. The United States Government says that I am ½ Oneida, ¼ Kiowa and ¼ Comanche, and that I am an enrolled Oneida. My parents have always shared with me their experiences of being a minority in America. They always told me to be a proud Native and to embrace my cultures. They always encouraged me to learn as much as I can about my cultures, by listening to the Elders. I cannot thank them enough for all the tools they have given me to go about my life on Turtle Island.
My focus now is my children. My sparks are my children. How am I going to nurture them the same way my parents did for me? Am I going to be able to give them the same tools I was given to succeed in this world? What woke me up to this was my 4 year-old son one day looked at me, and without a word motioned with his fingers that he was watching me.
NYLA to me provides the fuel to flame the fire that my boys spark. I show them that being a good leader means listening to what everyone has to say, talking about what is on their minds and showing them that there are positive steps to take to problem solving.
I am currently a founding Steering Committee member of the NYLA. Our program will work with Tribal College students and young Native leaders to provide vision, capacity building, networking skills, and tools to mobilize their communities to address root sources of inequality.
I am also the first graduate of the Comanche Nation College in Oklahoma, and currently continuing my degree at the College of the Menominee Nation (CMN) in Wisconsin. Last year, I had the opportunity through CMN to travel to Chiapas, Mexico to learn about indigenous communities there. It really opened my horizons to what various communities are struggling with – it made me think of what generations before me went through. One of the most powerful things I took with me from that time was the symbol of the Zapatista movement on this mural, the snail that says ‘Slowly, but advancing’. We carry this perspective in NYLA, to grow slowly and to build a strong foundation.
I am also very passionate about improving the health and wellbeing of my communities through access to healthy, traditional foods. I am a chef by training, and hope to share my journey to wellness through sharing this knowledge with others.
Areas of Focus
Traditional Food Sovereignty, Health and Wellness
- Member of first graduation class of Comanche Nation College, 2011
- AA in Computer Science from Comanche Nation College
- International Exchange participant with the College of the Menominee Nation to Chiapas, Mexico 2010
- Intergenerational Visioning Retreat 2010
- Internship with Oneida Nation of Wisconsin 2011