Opinion

Sara Marie Ortiz: Encourage a new generation of tribal leaders





Sara Marie Ortiz wants to forge a new generation of leaders in Indian Country:
Some say—in Indigenous and non-indigenous cultures—that true leaders are born, not made. I'm not sure if that's true or not, but what I do know is this: our Native youth, and our community of up and coming young Native professionals/leaders/scholars/educators need to be re-affirmed in process, an at once ancient and forward-looking process by which we become stronger, more intelligent, more aware, more generous, and better leaders—by virtue of good teaching, by virtue of transparency, patience, discernment, and by virtue of an acknowledgement of the massive body of knowledge which we do not possess.



Even a born leader doesn't become a great, or even a good, leader overnight. I've begun thinking lately that it's a mistake to elude youth with an illusion of natural or innate ability as virtue alone, particularly when it comes to leadership. Growth vs. fixed mindset theory aligns with this.

When we tell our young people, and our current or would-be leadership "You are so smart, you're so good at that" and even "you're the hope of our people—you must make good choices, you must succeed, because so many of us have not" it's not necessarily a good thing.

When we affirm them as ever evolving complex beings, rooted Indigenous people always, but rooted or oriented in complex process, history, and experience - personal and collective - we offer them something vital. When we tell them "you're still growing," "you're working hard on that" or "you're working through that tough situation—keep going" instead of "you're smart" alone or "you're supposed to already know how to do this or that, I thought you were a leader!" we foster their capacity for growth instead of telling them what they are or should already be.


Get the Story:
Sara Marie Ortiz: Replace Leaders Who’ve Grown Fat With a New Generation (Indian Country Today 4/30)