Ruth Hopkins: Tell indigenous youth that their lives really matter

We R Native launched the #weneedyouhere campaign to prevent youth suicide. Photo from We R Native / Facebook

Ruth Hopkins explains why children are so important in Native societies:
Genocidal conquest and assimilation eviscerated every aspect of Native identity. Our families were separated. Our children were stolen and shipped off to boarding and residential schools to be spiritually broken and indoctrinated. Many were hurt there. Some did not survive.

We see the long lasting effects of this intergenerational trauma among us today. Domestic violence, substance abuse, molestation, rape, child neglect and suicide is ravaging our Nations, virtually unchecked.

Last year, the Pine Ridge Reservation declared a State of Emergency after a rash of suicides among its youth. Some had not even reached puberty. Now, the Attawapiskat First Nation in Ontario has also declared a State of Emergency after dozens of its members attempted suicide. The youngest was 11.

These afflictions are spiritual in nature, and that is why the children are so strongly affected. We must honor and respect them again. We must allow children to be the powerful spiritual beings and healers they are. We have lost our way. We’ve got to pour everything into our youth. We must ask them for forgiveness, uplift them, and make them our primary focus once more. They need our love and attention.

Please, tell the children who we really are.

Tell them that as Indigenous youth, their very existence is a revolutionary act. Each beat of their Native heart defies greedy, bloodthirsty kings, conquerors, conquistadors & the U.S. Cavalry, all sent to steal & kill. They are their ancestor's living dream and an answer to our prayers. Because of them, there is hope for the next 7 generations. Millions of people have fought and died so they might live. They are more precious than diamonds. They are love personified. They are proof of our ancestor's victory over tyranny and death.

Get the Story:
Ruth Hopkins: Each Child Is Sacred (Indian Country Today 5/2)

National Center for Health Statistics Documents:
Suicide Rates for Females and Males by Race and Ethnicity: United States, 1999 and 2014 | Data Brief: Increase in Suicide in the United States, 1999–2014

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