Zianne Richardson (MihÁ:oknaho:) and Evynn Richardson (Ksé:hahiyé) hail from Halifax County and are members of the Haliwa-Saponi tribe. Zianne, a UNC senior and Morehead-Cain scholar who majors in Human Development and Family Science with a minor in American Indian and Indigenous Studies, aims to become an educator for future generations of North Carolianians. She joined the Carolina Indian Circle and Alpha Pi Omega sorority with the goal of empowering other Natives and finding a supportive network of people with whom she has flourished. Evynn, a major in American Indian and Indigenous Studies with a minor in Social and Economic Justice, also aims to work within her communities to assist with organizing and nonprofits. Alongside her busy academic schedule, she is also a business owner. She runs a company called The Medicine Kid, which focuses on designing assets for Native owned businesses and creating apparel. Both of the sisters have spent their time as undergraduates working to strengthen and foster community between Native peoples on campus, and have expanded the reach of their advocacy through their involvement in the Center for Native American Youth.
Zianne and Evynn’s accomplishments led them to be invited to the annual Tribal Nations Summit hosted by the White House, with Evynn participating in the youth forum portion. The goal of the summit is to strengthen Nation-to-Nation relationships and to discuss lawmaking associated with Native peoples on the federal scale. For the sisters, it was a life changing opportunity to see what is happening on the highest level alongside promoting the voices of Native youths. Zianne believes that while it is easy to say Native youths are the future, it can sometimes be forgotten that they are also the now. For Evynn, her experience felt refreshing. She mentions how it fills her with hope to hear Native laughter and watch her community come together on such a large scale. It is experiences like this which push her to be a leader on UNC’s campus.
Looking towards the future, Zianne is pursuing her passion for teaching which led her to an internship at Voyager Elementary school in Durham, where she works as a teaching assistant in a first grade classroom. She has already realized through her internship that she wants to teach elementary school when she graduates, because she sees just how important it is to nurture the next generation. She also wants young Native students to have something she didn’t: a person in the classroom who looks like them. Evynn is continuing to explore her interests in design and activism for her community as she prepares to enter her junior year at UNC. We cannot wait to see the next steps in the sister’s journeys, and we know they will do amazing things!