Before he passed away, my father taught me an important lesson: “The greatest loss in life is not loss itself, but who we forget when trying to erase who we are.” The loss of who we are is something Indigenous people have faced through colonization. In fact, until 1978 it was illegal for us to practice our spiritualities in the United States.
To honor my father and help heal the wounds of my community, I created the Luke Madrigal Indigenous Storytelling nonprofit to earn my Gold Award. Through my nonprofit, I created, planned, and hosted a series of eight virtual workshops called Healing Through the Indigenous Art of Storytelling.
The project started with my own story, “Wildflower: Indigenous Spirit,” which describes a girl’s journey through grief and loss to health and strength. I turned this into a play that was performed and filmed for a virtual presentation. When I saw the impact it had, I decided to expand my project to the eight presentations that became my Gold Award project.
Other community members shared their stories, each exploring a personal or traditional story of strength. Each person also created a story symbol prompted by a theme in their narrative and offered a prescription for healing. I then created a medicine bundle infographic to pair with the stories.
With my project, I sought to revitalize culture within my own community—and I got to spread my message even further when I was invited to participate in the United Nations’ International Day of the Girl “Girls Speak Out” event in October 2020. There I represented Native Americans in the U.S. and spoke about the importance of cultural revitalization through storytelling. My presentation also led to an invitation for me to give a TED Talk.
My creation of the Luke Madrigal Indigenous Storytelling nonprofit ignited passion in my community for sharing our stories. I was able to see the wisdom of my culture and the need for this wisdom in the world at large.
But above all else, it helped me heal from my own loss: my father’s death. The spirit of my father and the strength he and my ancestors continue to give me is the most powerful medicine for overcoming obstacles, and I never lose sight of this source of perseverance and strength.
Breanna educated children about the importance of pollinators and helped build habitats for bees to earn the Girl Scout Gold Award.
KaLa’s passion for social justice inspired her to start a club at her school and earned her the Girl Scout Gold Award.