Western Native Voice works year-round to inspire Native leadership so our communities flourish. We are excited to share, with you, this month's Community Spotlight. The Western Native Voice Community Spotlight is designed to highlight grassroots organizing and individuals creating change from across Montana and in Indian Country.
This month we visited with BethYana Pease, Lodge Grass Alderwoman and organizer, to learn more about what inspires her activism and community involvement. BethYana has launched the Missing and Murdered Indigenous People movement on the Crow and Northern Cheyenne reservations, a Build a Bike program in her community of Lodge Grass (#LGBaby), and other amazing efforts to “take back Lodge Grass” and build unity across Indian Country.
Organizations: Town of Lodge Grass, Jump Start Healing, Valley of the Chiefs Neighborhood Watch
Community: Lodge Grass
“I am BethYana Pease, enrolled in Canada, a Cree from the First Nations People of Little Pine SK and in Rocky Boy, MT. I am a great great granddaughter of Horse and White Man Runs Him, I am the great granddaughter of Ben and Tillie White Man Runs Him Pease. I am the granddaughter of Ben and Marge Pease and Alex and Bernice Frank. My mother is Linda [Warren] Bell and father is Kelvin (Julie) Frank. I have been raised Crow and live on the Crow reservation, in the beautiful Valley of the Chiefs, Lodge Grass, Mt. I am a single parent of 4 children, J'Ree, Leroy Jr., CanonBuddy, MargieMae and my granddaughter Arya J'Rysa OldBull. I love racing horses, fishing, cooking, camping, building bikes, and spending time with my grandma Margery, who is 93 years old.”
Who are your supporters?
“I find my biggest support in Lodge Grass, however I have supporters throughout Indian Country, that believe in my dream for UNITY across the state of Montana.”
In what way are you involved or give back to your community?
“Above everything everything I am a sundancer, I am a woman of the Creator, he does his work through me. I am somewhat of a baby veteran in the Yellowtail Sundance, I have been in 10 so far, my sisters and brothers dance beside me. And my son is making his mom proud, he is only 17 and he is about to complete his fourth Sundance this summer. I am also apart of the NightHawk Society and a member of the newly made Lodge Clan. I come from the band of The Kicks in Belly and was raised a good Crow woman.
Last year, I started taking small steps in my neighborhood to become a better leader. I started The Valley Of the Chiefs Neighborhood Watch, currently we have 20+ active volunteers and the #BuildABike program in LG, building over 100 bikes last year alone. I have recently taken on a new role in life, which has brought me into the world of politics, where I can shine. I decided in August I was going to run for an Alderman seat inside the local city government of Lodge Grass, MT. I ran as a write in and my aunt Janine Pease was my campaign manager, my running partner Quincy Dabney, filed for the mayor position of LG, also as a write in. We both swept the election, as of now, we have a new city treasurer Collena Brown, and a new appointed alderman Berni Garder, and we are looking forward to appointing two more Alderman next month. Since my election win, I have started many other programs. #JumpStartHealing which hosts many community events throughout the year. Missing.Murdered.Indigenous.Peoples' movement on the Crow reservation and Northern Cheyenne reservation, which brings awareness to those individuals that have no voice and families looking for justice. I am currently working on a young leadership program with Lodge Grass High School and I hope that by next school it will be a reality.”
What motivates you to effect change in your community?
“I come from a very successful family, a family of leaders. I grew up going to NIEA and AIHEC board meetings. I watched my mother and aunties change Crow country, by founding LBHC, to reintroducing a new tribal constitution and everything between the lines. However I took a different route in life, and developed an addictive personality. I am a recovering addict of 15 years, I seen both worlds, the good and the bad. In the past I turned a blind eye to destruction of my community with drugs and alcohol. When I finally decided to grow up, I looked around and decided no way does another child have to grow up the way my oldest son had too. I believe the Lord put my son a