Word Warriors: An Interview with Kirsten Shaw

Tell us a little about yourself.
I love photography, every chance I get I try to take photos outside with my camera. My biggest inspiration when it comes to photos is Ansel Adams. The way he took photos of the mountains is so beautiful and inspiring. A year or so ago I had the opportunity to go to Yosemite and see some of his work at the parks. It really made me want to take up photography because as most people say “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

What was your proudest accomplishment this year?
Graduating High School. My school was very academically challenging and I liked it for that cause it helped me a lot but at times it was stressful to the point where I started to slack off. I saw the potential I had and changed my habits and ended up finishing strong and better than before.

What motivates you?
My family. They are all hardworking individuals and try their hardest each and every day. So, I enjoy that they are so focused and driven.

If you could sit down with the decision makers of America, what would you tell them about Native Americans?
That we as a whole are hardworking. Some are lucky enough to be middle class even some wealthy but unfortunately a big chunk are just trying to pay off their bills, student loans, mortgages etc. There are those who are single parents or the only parent working who are just trying to keep food on the table for their own. Houses can be crammed with too many people and not enough money to feed their families. If there was a way to get sustainable food sources and have companies like Whole Foods not only donate their resources to people globally but also to reservations in the U.S., that would make a huge difference for our communities.

What’s the best advice you have for college-bound Native students?
Always seek adventure. Many Native students have grown up on the reservation, so being able to go and experience something new and exciting is great.  You should also be exceptionally grateful for your opportunities that you have been given.