Meet The Choctaw Nation Young Warrior Fighting To Preserve Her Culture
Isabella Aiukli Cornell is a teen advocate for Native youth. She is a member of the Choctaw Nation and lives in Oklahoma City. Bella has helped to end the use of derogatory native mascots and Land Run reenactments in her school district.
After testifying at the White House Listening Tour, she was invited to speak with the Secretary of Education about her experiences as a native student. Bella is a Southern Cloth and Fancy Shawl dancer and enjoys writing, attending powwows, hanging out with her friends, Instagramming, watching anime, playing the bass guitar, and listening to music.
-If happiness was the national currency, what kind of work would make you rich? -Helping others and doing kind, uplifting things for people.
Photo courtesy Success Native Style
-What issues do you hold close to your heart? -Advocating for those without a voice.
-Culturally speaking, what teachings do you value? -Elders are revered.
“My mom raised me traditionally, I know how to treat sacred items, how to treat regalia. To see it used as a plaything is wrong. People aren’t mascots,” she said.
Cornell is no stranger to experiencing hostility and ignorance about Native Americans. When she was in 8thgrade, a history teacher gave an account of America’s first peoples that left her stunned and in tears. “He called us cannibals,” she said. “Other kids came up to me after and asked if I ate people.”
Photos Source(Fig. 7)
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