Cierra Fields, an eighth-grader at Fort Gibson, was named one of five Champions for Change by the Center for Native American Youth, according to a media release. Fields is the daughter of Richard and Terri Fields of Fort Gibson.
The five students were selected from hundreds of Native American youth from across the U.S. and they will be honored in Washington DC March 3-6 in conjunction with the National Congress of American Indians Winter Executive Meetings.
While in DC, they will be introduced to tribal leaders and federal officials who are shaping policies that affect Native Americans, sharing the positive programs these youth have each developed, and hosting a discussion panel on Native Youth. These students will also be on the National Native Youth Advisory board for CNAY.
Cierra's projects include creating and developing the Native Youth Summit held Jan. 11. The late Charles Head, Councilors Cara Cowan Watts, Lee Keener and Don Garvin, Miss Cherokee Christy Kingfisher, Junior Miss Cherokee Julie Thornton, Robert Lewis and fellow cancer survivor Regina Thompson from CNE all provided great topics to 70 participants.
Cierra's goal was to empower students to effect change within the tribe and local communities by developing citizenship, stewardship, and leadership skills. Cierra has also been volunteering for the past two years with the Cherokee Nation Comprehensive Cancer Control Program traveling all over CN to schools, Vo-Techs, CN Health Clinics, and Hospitals to share her personal message of melanoma survival and cancer prevention.
Cierra was also honored this year by Cherokee Nation by being named Cherokee Nation Distinguished Spirit of Life Award winner. She has also partnered with Healthy Nation, Native Circle of Hope, and Mayo Clinic Native Circle. Cierra has worked with Cherokee Nation Multi-media to create, develop, and film public service announcements highlighting cancer support and eating a native diet for tribal TV and Youtube.
Cierra is also very active with Relay for Life Cherokee County.
This year she is team captain of Cherokee Ambassadors Against Cancer. This team is made up of Cherokee royalty, CNYC, and tribal youth council in hopes of getting youth more involved in cancer awareness. Cierra also combines her work for her tribe with her 4-H projects. Cierra is a member of the 4-H cooking club and this year they have dedicated themselves to learning to cook traditional Cherokee foods and are scheduling a gathering trip this spring. Cierra’s main 4-H project areas are Cultural Education, Citizenship, and Government specializing in Tribal Government.
The Center for Native American Youth is dedicated to improving the health, safety, and overall well-being of Native American Youth through communication, policy development, and advocacy. Retired Senator Byron Dorgan developed this program.
CNAY works to fulfill its mission by:
• Communicating about the challenges Native youth face and best practices on how to respond to those challenges
• Providing technical assistance to tribal governments, tribal organizations, and Native American programs for grant management, as well as program development and implementation
• Identifying and assisting tribes with securing available federal and private funding
• Monitoring youth-related activities, especially suicide prevention efforts, and encouraging replication of successful programs.
The Center works to substantially increase the dialogue between Native youth, tribal leaders, advocacy organizations, academic institutions, and other experts by hosting summits and roundtables throughout Indian country.