Native American Portrait Series - Aspen Yahola
I met this amazing young lady at the Mt. Juliet Pow Wow this year. It's so inspiring when you see the younger generation taking pride in the heritage and culture.
Ricky - What nation do you belong to?
Aspen - Mvskoke (Muscogee) Creek Nation
Ricky - Growing up in this society, have you had any challenges because of your culture?
Aspen - Yes, especially at school.
Ricky - How long have you been dancing? What style of dance do you do?
Aspen - I have been dancing since I was 4 years old. The style of dance I do is the jingle dress dance.
Ricky - What's does dancing mean to you personally?
Aspen - Dancing is my happy place. I love to go out to Powwows and dance also because I can share my culture.
Ricky - What is it like growing up and trying to stay true to your culture and fit into your surroundings?
Aspen - Growing up hasn’t been the best for me especially in the society we live in today. I get picked on and made fun of daily and get bullied all the time. Yet, I make sure it doesn’t get to me because I want to stay true and stay with my culture and my family proud. I also want to be part of the generation that stands out and brings people together and let everyone know that us Native Americans are still here.
Ricky - How important is connecting to your culture to you?
Aspen - Very important. I want to show that I am who I am and be proud of it!
Ricky - What needs to happen in our country for better relations between First Nations people, and mainstream America?
Aspen - What needs to happen is for people not to be racist and for people to be nice to each other.
Ricky - What would you like to see in 10 years that has happened to better those relations?
Aspen - In 10 years I want to see the world a better place and for us as Native Americans to be safe again and not have people invade our reservations and for us all to have fun and for people not to bully and make fun of Natives as little kids and I want everyone to be the true them!
I want to give a special thank you to Cindy Yahola, Aspen's mom, for allowing her to be part of this series. I sent Aspen's questions to her through Cindy and she answered them. Cindy is the organizer for the Mt. Juliet Pow Wow which allowed me to come up and setup a spot to do the Native American Portrait Series this year. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity!