Katie Fenton, Online Reporter
At 18 years old, student Shania Calf-Looking already knows what she wants to do with her life, and that’s helping others.
Enrolled in her first quarter at Pierce College Puyallup, the Bonney Lake High School graduate said she didn’t have a specific career in mind, but would consider becoming a lawyer for CPS or a radiologist.
“I float around a lot,” Calf-Looking said. “When I was really, really young, my mom and my grandma (told) me ‘You can grow up to be anything you want’ and I picked a lion.”
Despite her desire to become a big, fluffy cat, Calf-Looking’s own childhood experiences inspired her to pursue a career that would allow her to help others.
“When I was younger, I went through the foster care system,” Calf-Looking said. “I could tell a lot of things were wrong with the system and there were so many things they could change. I just wanted to help and be a part of that.”
She was transitioning from kindergarten to first grade when she and her older sister were placed in a foster home. Calf-Looking’s neighbor noticed Shania was left home alone and called CPS. The sisters ended up staying with their great aunt for several months until they were allowed to move back in with their parents.
After a few years, Calf-Looking’s parents split up and she moved in with her father, who encouraged her to embrace her Native American culture.
The young student would visit Seattle nearly every day with her father to walk around Pike Place Market and attend Native American meetings. Her father took her to bead-making classes because he wanted her to experience the Native American community since it was a big part of his own childhood.
“He wanted to make sure it was the same for me,” Calf-Looking said.
A member of the Blackfeet tribe, Calf-Looking would also spend her summers visiting her tribe’s reservation. She said her uncle Raven was a huge inspiration for her because he helped Native American troubled youths. Calf-Looking’s visits also helped her get in touch with her culture.
“This one summer, this blind medicine man came to my great uncle Steven’s house and was going to bless us with our Native American names,” Calf-Looking said. “I remember the entire ceremony and it was really weird. I felt like Simba because he wiped this red stuff across my forehead.”
Calf-Looking, or Yellow Rattle Woman as she was named, enjoyed her Native American culture as it gave her something to be proud of. Although she lost touch with her culture as she transitioned to high school, Calf-Looking draws upon her experiences as inspiration.
“My entire life has been really abstract or abnormal,” Calf-Looking said. “It’s never really been steady. I want to just see myself in a stable situation where I’m completely content.”
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