My name is Merritt Youngdeer. I’m a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in Cherokee, North Carolina. My grandparents, like many tribal members from all across our country, attended Carlisle Indian Boarding School.
The Christian life is a battleground. Even though we are forgiven by God’s grace, we are still prone to yield to our sinful nature. As Christians, we do not have to continue living in sin, because through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, we can live victorious over self-destruction!
I stood before the judge as a desperate 24-year-old, overwhelmed by the consequences of my life choices. I felt completely defeated by addiction, and the word “hope” had no meaning in my life. All of society’s efforts to reform me had failed.
Before Christ, my life was a mess, and I grew up a screw up. My life went against all society’s standards of normality. I grew up off-reserve in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. I had a decent family and attended a religious school. I excelled academically and athletically as an urban Indian. But growing up as a marginalized, stigmatized Indian caused me to experience great shame and unnecessary oppression.
It was the winter of 1979, and my wife Kathy and I were rejoicing in the birth of our first-born son. We named him Nathaniel Ara Ross. I was working in a factory on night shift to make ends meet. At night when I came home, I would check on Nathaniel. Those precious days were filled with joy and wonder.
Our reservation has been our home for many generations, and family ties are strong in our community. Our culture celebrates what each season brings, such as planting our corn, gathering and grinding acorns, and watching our grandchildren experience the fresh snowfall for the first time.
When I smell the smoke from the wood fire in the winter, it reminds me of the times when I was a little boy living in our hogan. It was during the winter season that the stories of the elders were passed down to the younger generation. I would listen to my grandfather teach us the history and ways of our people. Now I am an elder, and it is my responsibility to pass along the important truths for this life and the life to come.
My name is Roy Hawthorne. I am a proud member of the Navajo Nation. I am honored to have served my country through my military service in both World War II and the Korean War. I volunteered to serve in an elite group known as the Navajo Code Talkers.
We all yearn to love and be loved. And yet, as we grow in our life experiences, we can grow disillusioned with love. Maybe we have yet to feel truly loved and accepted by our family or community. Maybe we have struggled to love those that are closest to us.
There are over 500 federally recognized tribes in the United States. Each tribe has its own government, typically outlined in its respective constitution. When the tribe is federally recognized, then it is awarded a “sovereign nation” status. This means the tribe possesses its own set of laws – including adoption laws.