In my community there is a lack of connection between Native families and cultural knowledge. We are distanced from tribal communities and resources.                       

Dowawisnima Groves

Dowawisnima Groves

Dowawisnima Groves, Northern Ute and Hopi, is a sixteen-year-old high school sophomore, artist, and dancer from Utah County. Growing up away from her tribal communities, Dowawisnima experiences first-hand the challenges of remaining connected to culture.

Walking Between Two Worlds

Nebo School District has approximately 35,457 students enrolled in schools and academic programs. There are approximately 40 tribes represented in the families within the Nebo School District and Native students make up 1% of the district’s student population, with many families relocating from tribal communities for education and job opportunities.

“This has led to Indigenous people being ‘between two worlds,’ one the dominant culture and the other a more traditional Native American lifestyle. The ways that Indigenous people have traditionally used to form cultural identity are not as easily accessible to Natives living away from their tribal communities.”

In Utah, cultural resources for Native families who live in urban or suburban areas are very limited. “The opportunities we wish to have we often have to create ourselves.”

Reconnection to Cultural Identity and Native Storytelling Through Art

Through a series of regalia making, beadwork, and music workshops for Native youth, she is creating opportunities for youth to discover what it means to be Indigenous. Youth will explore personal storytelling through art projects and learn cultural values through mentorship.

By encouraging urban Native youth to invest their time in cultural activities, they will have a greater understanding of their cultural identity and become more comfortable sharing their own stories and culture with the world.

“In schools, and the media around us we see a narrative created by somebody else about our own culture, customs, and traditions. Creating opportunities for indigenous youth to tell their own stories is imperative.”

“Not only am I named Dowawisnima, but I am Dowawisnima. This name was given to me by my parents, and it describes who I am. It describes the people, like my Hopi grandmother, and my Native family and community, who have made the necessary sacrifices for me to exist today. My name is also a call for me to share my story, and the stories of people who have come before me. Every time I introduce myself, I share part of who I am, and who my people are.”

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