Indian Country Today Media Network’s own Vincent Schilling spent some time in the spotlight recently. He was honored with a Human Rights Award, presented by the City of Virginia Beach Human Rights Commission.
The award was presented to Schilling at a March 15 event by Virginia Beach Mayor William D. Sessoms Jr., who thanked him for his efforts: “Seriously Vincent, thank you very much for what you do for Native American people and your community.”
Vincent, an enrolled member of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, is not only a writer for ICTMN but he also is the executive vice president of Schilling Media, Inc., which he co-owns with his wife, Delores Schilling. The team holds events to promote awareness of Native Americans in Virginia.
He was “thrilled” to win the award that is given annually to “individuals (including youth) and organizations who advocate for the human rights which benefit the residents of Virginia Beach,” says a release.
Schilling’s speech at the awards presentation noted how glad he is that Native American people are being recognized, read an excerpt from his speech below:
“When I was about 10 years old, I remember dancing in my room listening to my record player excited that one of the members of The Village People, Felipe Rose, was an Indian. I also remember looking up to the Native American character on TV commercials that cried at the sight of garbage. But I later learned that Iron Eyes Cody—a man that surely loved Native American culture was not Native American, but European.
My entire life, people have asked me, what are you? I remember being ridiculed by my friends in college and was called a drunk, a boozer and that I was just an inferior race that couldn’t stand up to the encroachment and power of a superior race.
I remember feeling ashamed and embarrassed and that I did not speak up. Instead, I shook my head in agreement even though I didn’t want to. In Native culture, we are taught to be quiet and humble for fear we may suffer our historic fate once again.
But today I feel different. I am proud of who I am. And even though Native American reservations are the poorest communities in the United States I am proud of who I am. Even though Native American people suffer from the highest rates of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, suicide, alcoholism and unemployment. I am proud of who I am.
Native American people are much more than a coat drive in December.
Today, Native people are here and alive and well. We are not dead… We are still here. I have written books on Native heroes to show that we as Native people are not just living in a forest or in a reservation—we are senators, firefighters physicians, artists, and schoolteachers.
Today, the man I danced to and listened to on a record player that was smaller than the record—Felipe Rose he is one of my dear friends. For all of these reasons, I work tirelessly. I work as hard as I can so my nations youth won’t have to dance alone in their bedrooms frantically holding on to the only Native American role model that they know of in the world. I want them to know: They Are Not Alone. Thank You.”
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