My reflection on my people, and their journey through life from past to present, has been in my thoughts non-stop lately. Currently, I'm in the beginning stages of opening a food truck that specializes in Indigenous foods — from Mexican to Native American cuisine.
And in recent news: Boarding schools, some with mass graves (my father and his siblings attended Holy Cross boarding school and have very unpleasant memories), Standing Rock, so on and so forth — these are things my people are facing everyday.
This, along with personal events in my life, has pushed me to try to find a way to make something for my people that reside in the capital city. All of us here are from a reservation somewhere in Turtle Island, but we all come together as one to support each other.
There used to be a center here in Lansing, but it no longer exists. I want to bring it back because our people are losing our culture at a fast pace. We have nowhere to gather for traditions, teaching, drums, regalia and other events. Our elders have to go out and meet in restaurants. Our youth gather only periodically through school events. We gather at homes in the community.
It's painful to me when I found so much comfort as a child in the Lansing North American Indian Center.
More from opinion
It's hard being a city native away from reservations and culture surrounding you.
You get absorbed in city life that I'm guilty of as well. I've been going hard for my people since I was young. I was a youth leader in the center and I participated in the Native American and Latino clubs in high school.
I just want to have a community space for us to be us. I'm hoping my food truck will help make that happen. I have a long way to go but it's a vision I'm seeing more clearly from my ancestors everyday. It's important to me to make them proud, and it's important that one day I become that ideal of the ancestors for my grandchildren.
Shannon Mejia is a citizen of the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians and owns and operates the La India Mexicana Cocina food truck.
This article originally appeared on Lansing State Journal: Honoring International Day of the World’s Indigenous People on Aug. 9