This year is my year… our year!
November 2018 brought us a historical event and this past week we witnessed something that is quite inspiring – 110 new women members of Congress were elected for a total of 127 women now elected to Congress… and two of those are the first ever Native American women! Sharise Davids (KS) and Deb Haaland (NM)). What Native American woman wouldn’t be proud of that? I certainly am. This could be the beginning of something great, new and necessary. Winning any race, but especially winning as a woman is about drive, determination, endurance and resilience.
Giving women a chance to lead is the way of the future and it will become more common as time passes. I believe women leaders can bring something more to the table. We can be firm but fair. We can work hard and rise to challenges without any fear. We bare children and raise families. We fight for what we believe even if we are the only ones standing at times. We can make a point with a soft voice yet our words can be quite powerful if we are speaking from the heart. We believe things can be better and we are willing to put the effort in to help make them better. We believe in our people. We have hearts big enough to help the people we are meant to serve. We are educated. We are strong, compassionate and courageous.
As we all have seen, women are the ones in our Tribe that always work to keep the men on Council straight and they often don’t listen. That is why we need more women serving in our elected government!
As a Cherokee woman, I believe we need to look at candidates like I’ve just described for the upcoming election. It’s time we elect leaders that will hear us but also listen. We need to stop supporting the cookie cutter politician while expecting something new. We must take a chance on somebody that will fight for you and especially stand for what is right and best for families. Your best candidates may be women; truthful even if it stings, ability to love and be caring like family just as mothers do, keepers of our traditions and the wisdom passed on from our elders. Our Tribe is matrilineal because age old time has proven our women offer the loyalty, truth, strength and wisdom to be entrusted with our most precious treasures… family and traditions.
Most of today’s current leaders don’t see things the same way women do. Some can’t see the big picture or think beyond their own selfish interests for generations into the future. It’s time to change that.
I’m not saying all women will make great leaders but we need to do something different this time. We need to take an example from our Country heading in a different way by electing a large slate of new women leaders. We need to search out Cherokee women who will take the positions seriously; one that will keep their humility intact and not become egotistical; one that will always remember that job one is to take care of our people and our families and not themselves.
My husband and I have always advocated for more of our Cherokee Women to get into political office because we believe in our traditional matriarchal society where the women were the primary heads of the household. I think that women have a clearer perspective of family, community and care giving than most men and I believe we need more women in office to help our Tribe bring forth these perspectives into reality.
A race in 2019? For me? Why not? Some say I can do it and can win. I know I have a strong husband and family who will support me all the way and I know my heart is in it as well!
Two years ago, I registered to run a Half Marathon (13.1 miles) and it was cancelled due to weather, last year I planned to try again but I slipped and broke my ankle in 3 places that took surgery, two steel plates and seven screws. Now one year later I am planning to still complete my goal of the Half Marathon! I have been training for several months and gaining strength and confidence in my ankle, eating healthy (not counting the holidays) and getting mentally prepared. The race is this coming Saturday, Jan. 12th and I have been strengthening my heart, mind and body to prepare for this race. My goal is to finish in a good respectable time especially given that I’m no longer a “spring chicken” (53 years in chicken years is pretty old) but especially because I’m recovering from a severe broken ankle.
But really there are many reasons why I have set such a goal for myself. One is to complete something I never thought I’d try. And second but most importantly, I want to prove to myself and everyone that determination, strength and resilience is in my blood and can be in all of us.
With all the recent events, I have realized I am strong enough to handle most things. I am determined to finish and if I say I’m going to do something then I will. I know my resilience will be a reminder to me in the future and I hope to a few others, that as a strong Cherokee woman I can do whatever I set my mind to do.
I continue to prepare for my race! As I said 2019 is my year!
I’ve been thinking of ways I will make it about others. I’m dedicating my race to those that have struggled in the past few years. Whether it’s due to losing a loved one, a physical injury, trying to fight an addiction or dealing personally with someone with an addiction, some other loss you’ve been through and just feeling helpless and trying to hold your family together or if you’re dealing with an illness or someone you love is… My race in 2019 will be for you.
Next Saturday, Jan. 12, as I struggle physically to complete the Half Marathon just know that mentally each of you will be in my thoughts, because this upcoming race in 2019 is about healing, better health, fresh starts, togetherness, strength and hope.
I just ask for your prayers and support for my race. I seek a strong heart, steady feet, strong will power and a showing of my determination, drive and caring for the ones I dedicate my race to; I am running for you. Talk to you soon!
Cyndi Lambert, former First Lady of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians