Sami ‘28 recently shared two poems at the American Educational Studies Association conference in Portland, Oregon. The first poem, “Tupac Amaru,” was written by a Quechua warrior. “I recited this poem because I won’t give up my language, and no one can take away what is important to me,” said Sami. “I follow in his footsteps.” The second was an original poem that will be published in a professional journal. Read her words:
Being Native is not easy,
when I am with English-speaking kids
who do not speak Spanish ...
Soy casi la única chica que habla español.
There are no Diné-speaking kids like me.
Most of the Diné cannot speak as fluently
because they do not ask to learn or practice.
It is hard to be brown when there are people
who do not appreciate us being who we are
as brown people.
I am the only person in this school
who speaks Quechua.
My people’s lands
have been taken by others,
their traditions are stolen
their history, treasure and songs
Sami explained, “I wrote [the poem] in English and Spanish to explain how lucky we are to be bilingual, the few of us who are.” After her presentation, Sami reflected that the experience was “very nerve-wracking” but exciting at the same time. Even though she was nervous, it was important for her to be a part of the conference. She explained, “I wanted to share my poem and ideas with everybody about speaking Native languages.”
Way to go, Sami!