We have a serious problem. I am one of your own, and you could say that I am one of your successes. I grew up in your community, my parents have separately given to and served your community, I was a part of your highly successful dance team and worked in your businesses. I have received funds from your community to help aid my life as I complete my undergraduate degree at the University of Oregon.
I am thankful for our community and its uniqueness; this being said I ask you to please trust me and follow along while I tell you how I have been victim to your exploitative ways, and urge you to transform them. Racist and sexist ways are of the past, right? Sure, women are allowed to vote and racist slurs are not generally accepted anymore, but I have some hard news: The societally-based ideals that create these social hierarchies are not abolished. If I am wrong, come submit your arguments to the multiple professors and doctors that discuss these issues in academia at my university.
I grew up hearing your racist and sexist thoughts come out in my classmates. I watched as the amazing Native American culture that we are lucky to have a front row seat to in our small community was often criminalized and disrespected. I have experienced the ignorance first hand. I watched someone in my life of color be handcuffed in front of me for a simple traffic stop. What we’d been accused of hadn’t actually happened and we didn’t receive a ticket for it.
Now as I have dealt with assault and abuse in our community. I have seen it in my life as a woman, who you believe that you can undermine — from officers who did not allow me to use my rights to obtain a restraining order, which I now finally have since being in a community that takes victim rights seriously. Now that I am attempting to work with Pendleton departments once again I cannot believe what I have experienced. The most recent experience consists of being told that “I just shouldn’t get involved with people like this.”
Change is hard but important, and as you continue to raise up young people, you should continue to protect them. Knowledge is power, and the young people that you are sending off to gain it will do you a world more of good, if they do not have to come to realize the oppression they may have grown up in.