MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Fort Gibson

March 24, 2014

Educational experience: Teen attends UN summit on women

Fort Gibson freshman Cierra Fields said the two weeks she spent in New York City made an impression.

“It was kind of a culture shock,” Fields said. “People are packed in like living tuna.”

Fields was invited as a youth delegate for SustainUS, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization of young people advancing sustainable development. Fields, 14, is the youngest delegate they have ever had.

The United Nations hosted its annual two-week meeting on the status of women’s rights worldwide. The Commission On The Status of Women was established 58 years ago. The Commission is dedicated to promoting gender equality.

In a group that included Ivy League college students, Fields stood her own, said Fields mother, Terri Fields. There were around 20 delegates, traveling from all across the United States.

To earn a spot on the delegation, Cierra Fields submitted an application and wrote an essay on the subject of Native women from the point of view of the women.

Fields is not only the youngest delegate but also the first Native American delegate. When applying for the opportunity to participate, Fields said she brought that fact to the attention of SustainUS.

“This mixing pot isn’t really mixed,” she said.

Fields is not new to traveling. She has been to Washington, D.C., several times and to California serving as a Champion for Change for Native American youth.

During her NYC trip earlier this month, Fields attended many workshops and sessions on women’s issues. She was particularly drawn to the issues of human trafficking, reproductive rights, the LGBT community, and violence against women in other countries.

“My personal goal was to keep my mind open and try to learn something,” Fields said.

Fields’ parents said they have always wanted their children to take advantage of every opportunity.

“It’s normal for us,” said Rick Fields, Cierra Fields’ father. “We’ve always just treated her like a little person, not like a little kid.”

Cierra Fields said she owes her personality and ambition to her parents.

“When you have a strong feminist dad, and a strong, opinionated stubborn mom, there’s no other way I could’ve turned out,” Fields said.

Terri Fields said Fort Gibson schools have been very supportive of her daughter’s travels.

“Fort Gibson is really up on technology,” Terri Fields said. “She has access to homework wherever she has access to a computer.”

Cierra Fields said she has strong female role models in her life. She looks up to Wilma Mankiller, the first female chief of the Cherokee Nation.

Two other female role models for Fields are her mother and her older sister, Cheyanne Fields.

“She’s always been there for me. I look up to her. It’s all over the spectrum,” Cierra Fields said.

Now back in Fort Gibson, Fields said she would like to keep the conversation about gender equality issues going.

“I’m hoping to continue talking about them,” she said. “Just little things, person to person.”

Reach E.I. Hillin at (918) 684-2926 or ehillin@ muskogeephoenix.com.

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