Celebrating ‘The Sister Project’ with Aliyah American Horse

Students from Lincoln High, Lincoln Northeast, Gordon-Rushville, and Red Cloud Indian School entered poetry or art inspired by the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women movement.

Over the last year, Civic Nebraska has partnered with the Nebraska Writers Collective to provide civic mentorship to the 2023-24 Nebraska Youth Poet Laureate, Aliyah American Horse. Aliyah chose The Sister Project, a civic initiative to bring attention to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, or MMIW, Movement through the power of words and art.
Aliyah American Horse, Nebraska’s 2023-24 Youth Poet Laureate.
“My work focuses on at-risk Indigenous communities, talking about real-life struggles, and putting that out there,” Aliyah said during the presentation. “Throughout all my poetry, I’m very real. I don’t sugarcoat things.”
Students from Lincoln High, Lincoln Northeast, Gordon-Rushville, and Red Cloud Indian School were invited to enter poetry or art submissions around the MMIW movement. Aliyah visited the schools to share about the project and encourage student involvement, and we gathered on April 5 at the Nebraska State Capitol to recognize their work and celebrate The Sister Project MMIW Art and Poetry Contest winners.
“All the poetry and art is dedicated to raising awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, which I don’t believe has nearly enough representation and I think it’s good to get youth involved,” she said.
A judging panel chose the top three out of 11 submissions. Winners traveled from Red Cloud Indian School to Lincoln on April 5 to be honored:
›› First Place (poetry): Aden Hopkins (Grade 11, Red Cloud Indian School) with Cries of Many, Answers of None;
›› Second Place (poetry): Melania Two Hearts (Grade 11, Red Cloud Indian School) with Her Trail of Beauty; and
›› Third Place (artwork): Charlee Schreiner (Grade 11, Red Cloud Indian School).
›› Honorable Mention: Lola Rabago (Grade 9, Lincoln High School); Furi White Eyes (Grade 9, Red Cloud Indian School).
From left: Aden Hopkins; Charlee Schreiner; Aliyah American Horse. Not pictured: Melania Two Hearts.
“Working with Aliyah this year has been so inspiring,” said Nancy Petitto, Civic Nebraska’s senior director of programs. “Her vision for this civic project shows how we can build civic health through creative arts. It also highlights the importance of bringing youth voices to important issues that affect our communities.”
Aliyah will learn if she is the next National Youth Poet Laureate on April 20, when she’ll perform at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. As a 2024 Regional Youth Poet Laureate, she is one of four finalists competing for the national title. Aliyah is preparing to hand off the title of Nebraska Youth Poet Laureate – and Civic Nebraska will provide civic mentorship to her successor, too.
Thank you for an amazing year, Aliyah! We’re honored to have had the opportunity to get to know you and to work with you.

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