WINDS Scholar Essay Responses
Billie K. Fidlin - President & Founder, Whisper n Thunder

Editor's Note: Part of the WINDS Scholarship application

process includes an essay. We are honored to have

permission to publish our scholar's answers to the

essay portion of their submissions.

"What is the greatest contribution Native culture can give as a gift to the global community?" 
~ Sarah Chatter

From a young age, I was always taught the importance of remaining humble. While that may mean one thing to someone, it may mean something else to another. In that way, humbleness can encompass a great variety of meaning. 

For example, in the Navajo culture you are taught to give whatever you can to your guests when they enter your home, such as a small meal or a bottle of water. No matter your socioeconomic status, you give what you can. Another example would be language, culture, and tradition. It is a known fact that intergenerational trauma is taking a toll on today’s generation and indigenous cultures are steadily beginning to decline. 

When you are humble, you are willing to teach and share your cultural knowledge with others who may not be so fortunate, rather than hold yourself to a higher status and judge those who may not have access to their traditional roots. 

In today's society, I think it is especially important amid the ongoing social justice movements that people discover that skin color, socioeconomic status, cultural background, and physical ability should not be a defining factor in the worth of a person’s personality. Unfortunately, the system was never built for minorities and this classification by way of appearance and financial status has become the norm. If everyone were to take a deeper look into what really separates people, they would find that there is not much difference between them besides experiences related to the color of their skin. 

By learning to be humble, society can finally strive towards equality and equity in an effort to make this world a better place. 

 "What is the greatest contribution Native culture can give as a gift to the global community?"
~ Daniella James

The greatest contribution that Native culture can give as gift to the global community is our
characteristic of “Strength.” The strength to continue as the first peoples of our lands. The strength to continuously live in struggling situations with grace, humility, and love. The strength to fight for our communities. The strength to flourish in all regions of the world. The strength to work together. The strength to never give us. The strength to honor our ancestors every day. The strength to be mindful of Mother Earth. The strength to respect each other. And, the strength to honor ourselves. I believe this understanding is what the Native culture can demonstrate to the global world.

"What is the greatest contribution Native culture can give as a gift to the global community?"
~ Amanda Paxon

First of all, the greatest contribution Native culture can give as a gift to
the global community is there are many things which are significant but the
most prestigious would be providing guidance and protection to a Native
college student who is pursuing a college degree in the western society. A
Native college student is an important asset in today’s evolving world because
once they obtain their degrees, they will return to their homelands and help
their Native communities. My Apache culture is a very importance aspect in
my life and I’m grateful my mother, father and maternal grandparents
introduced me to the traditional teachings and traditional practices. I’m grateful
my family introduced me to the Apache culture and language because it has
provided guidance and protection in my life as well in my educational journey.
My late maternal grandmother helped my parents raise me and she taught me
to speak the Apache language fluently. Having the opportunity to speak my
Native language fluently is very prestigious because there are fewer people
who speak and understand the Apache language nowadays. For example,
during my summer internship, aside from providing healthy and nutritious food
boxes, my coworkers and I filmed a video which consisted of how to properly
harvest Apache wild tea and I had the opportunity to translate the video in

In addition, the greatest contribution Native culture can give as a gift to
the global community would definitely consist of providing guidance and
protection to the Native college students who are obtaining a higher education
away from their home, families and ceremonial places. In my own experience,
I believe it is beneficial to participate in a spiritual practice which is prayer
because it will provide protection from the negative things. For example, I had
a huge BIO exam and I studied for one whole week and I said a prayer before
I took the exam and I did exceptionally great on the exam. Prayer can also
provide guidance in uncertain times such as when you need to study for a
huge exam or before you present in front of a huge audience. My traditional
Apache teachings and practices has impacted my life in a positive way
because I wouldn’t be a successful college student in the modern world, and I
wouldn’t be knowledgeable about the Apache culture and language. In my
own opinion, I think every college student needs to understand the importance
of having access to traditional guidance and protection because it will ensure
that your goals will come to fruition.

Furthermore, a college student is an importance asset in the modern
society because they acquire the tools they need in order to sustain the needs
within their Native community. In the Apache culture, we are taught to give
back to our community because our reservation has provided us with the
necessities we need in order to become successful college students. Our
Native community provides the college student with funding to pay for college
expenses and the community members provide the students with
encouraging words. For example my mom always reminds me, “Education
can take you far in life especially as an Indigenous individual because you can
fight back with it. It’s doesn’t matter which major you choose because we
need more Native doctors, engineers, artists, etc. You are here to do good for
yourself and most importantly our future generations because they need role
models. Get that degree no matter how hard it gets because your elders
prayed to see you succeed, to hold that diploma with you and to see you live a
good life. I’m grateful my mother reminds me the importance of obtaining a
higher education and despite the challenges, it’ll be worth it because I will
have the opportunity to create a real impact in my Native community and I will
be doing what I love.

Overall, my Apache traditional practices and language plays a huge role
in my life because my parents and maternal grandparents raised me with the
belief that education is important as well as partaking in ceremonies. A few
years ago, I was fortunate to experience an Apache Sacred Sunrise Dance
and my ceremony taught me to remain humble, have a strong mentality and to
seek value in my education. My ceremony consisted of songs and prayers for
four days to ensure that I will have a content and fulfilling life by attending
college, graduating from college, owning a house, owning a vehicle and
having my own family in the future. I believe my traditional beliefs and
traditional practices have created a significant impact in my life because it has
provided protection and it has helped me overcome the obstacles I endured
throughout my educational journey. I wouldn’t be where I am at today without
my cultural knowledge as well as the teachings and wisdom my mother, father
and maternal grandfather instilled in my life.

“In an effort to correct American history to reflect the true history of North American
and Native interaction, how would you seek to educate all people of all races about what hashappened, and what needs to happen?”
~ Dante Miller

From my experiences, a lot of the history that I learned about the North American and
Native interaction was covered rather quickly. We also didn’t look much in-depth at the 18th and 19th centuries, which isn’t so far away. How quickly this type of history is covered in schools would depend on the location and area. There is also an issue with our history being watered down in schools, which doesn’t allow us to learn from our past. I feel like if we would like to educate people on the history of North American and Native interaction, then an educational setting is the place to start.

In the future, I plan on becoming a Data Scientist, which can be essential for determining
what topic in the North American and Native interaction we need to educate people on and how.

I feel like educating people about what happened in our history starts in school. From my
experience, my school didn’t do as great of a job as they should have when talking about
certain parts of history.

I would gather data from students on anything that is related to their education. I would
nitpick the data and primarily look at anything that involves North American and Native
interaction. This would give us the opportunity to see what people know and how they feel about learning Native American history. I would then gather data from the schools on whether they have the resources to educate their students and if there are topics they can’t cover in more detail, specifically North American and Native interaction.

By taking this data from the schools and students, we’d have a good idea of how to
educate people on what has happened and what needs to happen.