Serving Others While Learning Her Past

Senior Tehya Frederick went on the Winnebago Service Trip for the second year in a row while getting more in touch with her own Native American heritage


Submitted by Tehya Frederick

Sophomore Iman Hollins, sophomore Tyra Frazier, junior Annabelle Miller, junior Genevieve Klobe, sophomore Juliana Nelson, senior Tehya Frederick, senior Gresha Burton and senior Iris Evans traveled with theology teacher Polly Holmes to Winnebago, Nebraska for a service trip this past summer. This trip marked Frederick’s second year visiting the Winnebago community.

Kamryn Rogers, Print Co-Editor-In-Chief

Senior Tehya Frederick always thought there was more to her history than what she knew because of her olive-green eyes, spiraled hair and beige skin. Then during her freshman year, Frederick learned she had a strong Native American heritage coming from both sides of her family by looking up the meaning of her name which meant ‘precious’ deriving from Native American origin. 

“We didn’t talk about it,” Frederick said. “I always knew I was black but I never really knew about that other side.”

Sophomore year, when Frederick was listening to theology teacher Jessica Hull as she announced the extensive list of service opportunities during Catholic Social Teaching class, it went in one ear and out the other. But after attending an informational meeting, there was one service opportunity that caught both Frederick’s and her family’s attention. Her grandmother Cassandra Warren, who is a descendant of the Cherokee tribe, was especially pleased about this opportunity for her granddaughter.

I always knew I was black but I never really knew about that other side.”

— Senior Tehya Frederick

“We really didn’t have to encourage her,” Warren said. “Tehya was really excited about the trip. It was very easy to support such a wonderful opportunity for her.”

After attending last year’s Winnebago Reservation service trip, Frederick knew that she wanted to do it again. For her senior service project, Fredrick joined the service trip during the last week of June in Winnebago, Nebraska. Frederick and a group of seven other students went along with Theology teacher Polly Holmes and her sister, Micah Holmes.

“Winnebago was the highlight of my summer and when I was the happiest last year,” Frederick said. “Why wouldn’t I want to feel that way again?” 

Winnebago, Nebraska is a place of its own. The quaint, tight-knit town was simple. The nearest grocery store was 30 minutes away. There were no McDonald’s or Targets anywhere in sight. Only houses, schools, hospitals, gas stations and a modest Dollar General for the residents. Their main focuses in life were nature, religion and education, according to Frederick.

“The Winnebago people are so in touch with each other and their community,” Frederick said. “They are just one huge family.”

During Frederick’s time there she said she helped spruce up the community. This included laborious weeding that seemed to drag out into endless hours, scrubbing pots and pans of an ailing woman who was unable to do so herself and painting the dull, chipped walls of an elementary school to a vibrant yellow. 

I could tell she had an appreciation for the culture.”

— Senior Iris Evans

Her four days there not only immersed her into a part of her hazy culture, but it also allowed her to share her knowledge about Winnebago with the rest of the group. Senior Iris Evans commented on how Frederick helped to better her time at Winnebago.

“Since it was her second time there, she acted as the leader of the group,” Evans said. “I could tell she had an appreciation for the culture, which made the whole experience more interesting for me.”

Like last year, this service trip had a profound impact on her. Once she came home, she knew she wanted to go back for the third time. This was not only because of the peacefulness Winnebago offered, but also because she was eager to continue to learn more about her Native American culture.

“My biggest takeaway from the trip was that we don’t have to go to another state or country to make a difference,” Frederick said. “I can take what I learned about the Winnebago tribe and spread the message and the problems that we can help with.”