Kloots also paid tribute to Cordero on her
I went through a sort of identity crisis growing up. I was very much in touch with my culture and our traditional ceremonial ways, because we grew up that way, and my sister and I went through our Kinaaldás, which is a coming-of-age ceremony in Diné culture. But it was certainly hard growing up in a town that's just outside of the reservation and has a predominantly Mormon population.
My mom went to boarding school, where she was abused for speaking our Diné language, and my parents, who are both fluent Diné language speakers, thought it would be best to not teach us our language. They thought we'd be more successful if English was our first language. I eventually went to boarding school, too, a college preparatory school in Massachusetts that was very different from the kind of boarding school my mom attended. From there, I went to Dartmouth College, though I deferred college for a year because my younger brother killed himself in 2008, when he was 17. We were just a year and a half apart.
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Our youth face teen suicide epidemics across tribal nations, and though we really don't know why, we can speculate. There are some factors that I'm aware of, especially around cultural identity and living in a border town that had tensions between Diné people and the white population. My brother, feeling that, and actually being racially profiled and bullied by some of the white police officers, wrote in his suicide note, "It's hard to stay alive when you're brown and gifted." So for me, knowing and sharing my brother's story, I try to connect with youth to relay the message that there's hope, and there's a way out of whatever negativity they're experiencing, as long as continue to fight for visibility and justice.