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Coming Together

By Jennifer Rios

On November 9, 2022 we partnered with USD's Office of the Tribal Liason to create the theme "I Can't Leave." We had three amazing storytellers participate and create beautiful stories that incorporated this theme.

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Our fist storyteller was Sahmie Wytewa. Sahmie is head of USD's Office of the Tribal Liason and member of the Hopi Tribe from the village of Mishongnovi in Second Mesa, Arizona. She created the "I Can't Leave" theme in honor of the George Floyd protests. George Floyd's words "I can't breathe" incited Sahmie to think about her own community and the injustices that it has faced throughout history. The theme "I Can't Leave" represents how hard it is to leave your home and community, and how even if you do leave, you can find your way back through unexpected pathways. Sahmie's story told this tale, how hard it was for her to leave her community and how she now uses the opportunies she's worked for to reach back and help her community any way she can.

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Our second storyteller was Ash Valentine. Ash told a story about the culture shock she experienced during her first year at USD and the way this led her to realize how important her community was to her. Ash continues to fight for her community through social change and her story was both heartfelt and inspiring.

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Our third storyteller was Dr. Angel Hinzo. Dr. Hinzo discussed her military upbringing and how home has changed for her over the years. She discussed how people can make diffent types of connections during their life and how home can change. Her story showed how it does not matter how far you go, home will always be there waiting.