Whisper C.K. is a 26 year old young woman born and raised in the Four Corners region. Currently she resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico where she works as an HIV Preventionist for urban Native women. In 2009, Whisper received her Masters through the Department of American Studies at the University of New Mexico where she wrote her research on sexual violence against Native women. She is very much involved in the blossoming urban arts scene in the city, performing as a spoken word poet, a singer, visual artist & film maker. Whisper brought with her to the 'Duke City' her passion for traditional ethonobotany and growing, a tool she uses for bilateral education of her youth, peers and elders. She draws pride and motivation from being involved in a movement of positive young people who work tirelessly to empower our communities through knowledge and sustainability, while providing inspiration through unlimited creative means. Whisper's heart is tied closely to the land and the expansive, diverse family she originates from. Through trail and error, she has found a means of marriaging both her current urban life with her rural background, to which she returns regularly to regenerate her love for life.
Whisper was born at Durango’s old Community Hospital in 1984. Her first home was in Turtle Lake Valley, Colorado. In her adolescence, Whisper began developing a social consciousness around the dynamics of the surrounding Colorado/New Mexico/Utah 'border towns' consisting of an Indo-Hispano, Chicano, Indigenous and Anglo demographic. Language, culture, restorative history, traditional knowledge, and local politics became significant directives in her young life. In her early adulthood, she became directly impacted by the gentrification processes that had come to her home region within just a few years. Slowly, she watched much of her community become uprooted and scattered in the interest of 'economic and infrastructural development.' Entering college at 17, she committed herself to learning how to identify and articulate such injustices, and most importantly, how to work to implement negotiations and solutions to processes directly impacting her peoples' daily living realities. In 2006, she moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico to pursue her Masters Degree.
In the summer of 2010, Whisper and her co-worker Kelly Gilbreth (White Earth Ojibwe) created an opportunity for four urban Native American middle school and high school students to travel and visit various Indigenous communities in the United States and the province of Manitoba, Canada. This was a two week long road trip, formally known as the Native American Community Academy's 'Cultural Exploration Trip.' This trip was an incredible success. There are hopes to make this cultural institute an annual event for more urban Native girls.
In 2009, Whisper graduated from an art's-based, civic change young women's Leadership Institute out of Brooklyn, New York, -to and from which she traveled throughout the year to attend. From this leadership institute, she began with her peers a community-based film, "Native Shine." This film was created by the collective concern held by many local Native youth in Albuquerque, New Mexico regarding the issue of inappropriate representation of Indigenous peoples perpetuated by the media as well as the long-standing tourism economy in the Southwest. Native Shine is an experimental documentary based on urban Native youth's own means of appropriate representation through street art, conscious Hip-Hop, and spoken word poetry. Juxtaposed to these youth's lives and work is the fictitious character, the 'Indian from the American Imagination.' This stereotypical "INDIAN," with war bonnet and tomahawk in hand, travels throughout the city having numerous outrageously funny adventures. He is THE embodiment of inappropriate representation of Native peoples. His purpose is to bring to the forefront the ridiculousness of many people’s misconceptions about Native people. At the end of the film, thanks to his exposure to the varying lives and art forms of these urban Native youth, he undergoes an existential breakdown and transformation -becoming another extra-ordinary urban Native youth himself. The issue of appropriate representation of Indigenous peoples in the Southwest, both rural and urban, is very important. Inappropriate representation causes a lack of real consciousness on the behalf of non-Native America regarding very real issues impacting this region’s First Nations peoples and communities. Currently, Native Shine is looking for funders to help with its completion and distribution. If you are interested in helping, please contact Whisper directly via her email or facebook. The trailer for Native Shine is available on her GeoTourism page. Photos and further explanation of this film is also available at: http: www.myspace.com/nativeshineabq.
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