By Luca Cantagallo, age 12
When Nathan Solorio, age 15, was bullied in school, he quickly realized that the support he needed just wasn’t there. To try and fill this gap, Nathan has created Heart Medicine, an online community platform which he hopes will help other young Native Americans overcome the discrimination they are facing. The achievement earned Nathan the United National Indian Tribal Youth’s 25 Under 25 Youth Leadership Award!
Luca: You were bullied at school because of your cultural heritage. Why did you decide to take action for others experiencing this kind of discrimination and create Heart Medicine?
Nathan: I have long hair and braids, and kids were calling me a girl and other names. I decided to take action because I don’t want others to feel alone in their situation. So I wanted to create Heart Medicine, a place where others can come and have fellowship [and not feel alone].
Luca: How do you start a platform like Heart Medicine? Who did you get advice from on how to build it?
Nathan: The platform started as my idea for UNITY, which stands for United National Indian Tribal Youth. After a lot of discussion and advice, and my own research, I was able to start building it. My mom has really helped me a lot to start Heart Medicine. We are still in the grassroots phase, but we have had a lot of positive feedback.
Luca: Do you feel some responsibility to represent the Native American community?
Nathan: I don’t feel I have the responsibility to represent the Native American community. But I feel I have a responsibility to help those in my community. I’m just me, and I’m trying to do something positive by helping other Native American youths who are experiencing bullying.
Luca: What are your hopes and dreams for Heart Medicine and your own future?
Nathan: I hope to [teach people] nationally and internationally about where my people are from. I want to meet with more Native youths. But also I want to open the door to start conversations with non-Native youths, as well. I feel that bullying—and my [reaction to it]—is a teachable moment.