YaYA members created Photovoice projects by combining photography and narrative to share stories that encourage positive social change and bring awareness to issues facing young people in Wyoming. These are our stories.



Trigger Warning: The following stories contain subject matter related to sexual violence, suicide, substance abuse, homophobia, and traumatic events.

The Memories That Make Us



No one chooses to leave home, unless home is a dangerous place

You run to the reservation 

When you see that everyone running with you 

Your neighbors are fast as the blood fills their throat

The innocent touch of a lover is what you miss 


As you see the man holding a gun bigger than his body


People leave home 


When home won’t let you stay 

No one chooses to leave home 

Yet home chases you 

The fire under your feet 


The blood boiling hot in your veins


It isn’t something that people thought they would be doing

Until the blade is threatening your neck 

Even then the people carry an anthem 

They sing it under their breath 

Tearing up as they hand out the passports to stolen land

Sobbing as they know, they will never get it back


Understand that no one puts their child on a horse

Unless the horse carries them to a safer land 


Where no one’s palms burn under the smoke of a camp

They spend their time beneath carriages, in the stomach of trucks

Feeding on the last bit of home

The miles traveled mean more than just a journey

They don’t crawl under the fences built

For no one chooses to be beaten

No one chooses a reservation 

Or chooses to be hurt 

They leave you with your body aching

Or in a prison 


But prison is safer 

Than a tribe that is under fire 

And the one prison guard 

That roams in the night 


Is better than a truckload of men

Who look like they’d kill your father 


Who could take this 

Who could stomach this 

Who has skin tough enough 

Go home indians 

Dirty savages 


Disease seekers 


You suck the country dry 

Redskins with their hands out 

They say we smell strange 

As they said we’d messed up our country

But they’ve messed it up more 


Than we ever could 



As the words and the dirty looks

Roll so smoothly off our backs 


At least the blow is softer 

Than a limb torns 

The words more tender 

Than the men between your legs

The insults are easier 

To swallow than holding your child

In pieces that you pick up


I want to go home 

But home is looking down the barrel of a gun

Nobody would leave home 

Unless home they chased you to the reservation

Home told us to quicken our legs 

Leave our clothes behind

Leave our religions alone 

Crawl through the trees 

Wade across the rivers 


Save ourselves

Be hungry 


Beg for salvation 


Forget our pride 

For survival is more important 

Nobody leaves home unless 

A booming voice is echoing 

In the ear 

Telling us to – 


Leave, run

Run away from me 

You see what I become 

For anywhere is safer 


Than home



Beauty for Ashes


Silent to the world for the bargain of no harm to the ones she loves.

Ten years on earth filled with bright colors and she only saw the dullness of a ceiling 

He took her petals of purity 


Her body cried in pain but she was numb


 For pleasure, money, and himself 


She was his.


Her pain fell in the shower 

Her tears unrecognizable from scorching water that hit her face

Just to feel different pain

The sound of water gave her privacy

Until this too was taken

Privacy was nothing she knew anymore

A shower turned into a show


For his pleasure


In her head the voices took over

“You deserve this”

“It’s not that bad”

“People have it worse stop complaining”

“It will pass”

“Today was a good day”


A good day,

Waking up without his arm around her

Not feeling his breath on her neck

Having a second to pray for strength 


Strength that fell as each petal was taken


Her world worth fighting for


His lies haunting her soul

“They don’t love you”

Her siblings

Her family 



Taken by his authority


How could someone be in so much pain

Enough pain that forever seemed easier 


Easier than fighting this cruel world


Pain that was breaths away

Away from life and death

The sound of forever is better

The gun to her head

She fell to the floor


The pulled trigger 




Her own wrists 

On her throat 


Her body fighting for another chance


Her soul already dead


The feeling of a blade through her skin

She was alive 

Blood dripped down her hand and

She smiled,

Painted a picture for the world to be blinded by

Her painted smile 


Hid the pain behind the closed door


She walked bearing pain to the truth

Her only request stayed true

No one else feels the pain

No one else knows his wrath 

With each brutal force he made upon her

Her mouth opened to cry 

No words


No cries


Internal are the screams of her pain


She gasped for air 

She’s still alive


Through the breath of a cigarette stained mouth


Her encounter unreal,


Her waking to his touch over her breast 

Reaching down her stomach


“Can I kiss you?”


How could it be real

How could this happen


She was his daughter


It was real

The morning left his signature 

The lingering  cigarette smoke 

His claim over her mouth 

From that night on

She had lost,


Lost herself in every way


Each day forcing her innocence further out

The girl in the mirror


Transparent to only what the world sees


He found his pleasure

Even when the public eye looked

A hug that pushed her breast into him

The interlocking of her fingers in his

A hand across her backside 


And all she could do was smile


A kiss before she left 

Not a goodbye kiss 


Implied requirement of his lips against hers.

Everyday for six years


Filled with touch


Everyday went with pain

With unseen scars and fear


She would do it over again

The pain

The cries

If it meant 


No one else felt his inflicted pain


She has been inflamed by him

She as the flowers burn with his touch


Made beauty from the ashes


That she is me


This is my story