Native Voices Provides Creative Outlet for Youth

Native Voices is designed to train young people using new methods for cultural documentation, to preserve Native beliefs, language, values, and to share the perspectives and contributions of California Native communities and individuals. Students spent six months learning about filmmaking and creating videos about California Tribes and American Indian organizations working together to support behavioral health and wellness for mind, body, and spirit. Students also had the opportunity to attend field trips, hear from guest speakers, and participate in cultural events throughout California. The following is a Q&A with two members of Native Voices, Maria Titman and Patricia Titman.

EMM: Why did you get involved with Native Voices?

MT: I wanted to gain knowledge about mental health and help spread awareness about the issue.

PT: Me too! I also wanted to gain more experience with cameras and video editing. It was great to gain work experience while working in the Native community.

EMM: Who does your project reach?

MT: Our program reaches the Native community and our peers as we try to help them understand and gain knowledge about mental health issues and stigma.

PT: We also reach other youth to hopefully influence them to get involved in their community to help reduce the stigma of mental illness and other issues that affect their community.

EMM: How has Native Voices impacted those you’ve reached?

MT: We’ve impacted others by showing them they can get involved in their community and help spread awareness.

PT: Our hope is to show others they too can get involved in their community. We want to inspire other youth to want to do something as powerful as Native Voices.

EMM: How has the project impacted you personally?

MT: This program has impacted the way I think about and the way I see mental health. I have gained so much more knowledge and it has inspired me to go out and influence others as well.

PT: The Natives Voices program motivated me to want to continue to be a leader for Native youth through programs that help reduce the stigma about mental illness and other issues that affect my community.

EMM: What is the most important thing you need when working with the Native community?

MT: One important thing I discovered is having well-educated Native people that understand the culture and are great influencers on the community. We need to reach out in a way that relates to the Native people.

PT: Also, I believe you need influential community leaders with extensive Native background and knowledgeable youth who love being actively involved in their heritage.

Click here to watch a behind-the-scenes video of Native Voices.