Meet the Homegirl: Student, Youth Ambassador, Advocate for Gun Control
By Aishwarya Babuji
At the age of 15, most teens find themselves preoccupied with homework, playing sports, sending each other funny posts on social media, and even binge-watching The Office on Netflix. Riverton High’s Jazmine Wildcat does all of these things.
The thing that sets Jazmine apart from her peers is the sole fact that her ancestry was forged by resilience in the face of hardship.
As a young Native American woman living in the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming, Jazmine has seen pain and suffering played out over generations before her. The American history books she reads in school are tainted with the oppression of her people, the Northern Arapaho Tribe, for centuries. She’s seen neighbors and community members succumb to poverty, suicide, drug and alcohol abuse, and more. Social issues plague her community, but Jazmine draws strength from her heritage and ancestors as one of our country’s youngest and fiercest activists.
Jazmine first embarked on her activist journey at the age of ten, when she helped lobby for the passage of the Violence Against Women Act. She even single-handedly created a “Spread the Word to End the Word” campaign in order to help individuals with intellectual disabilities.
Her activism transcends the physical and verbal aspects of the term—she also uses art to highlight issues important to her. Jazmine created an award-winning piece of art to highlight the underrepresented issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women.
More recently, Jazmine has channeled her fire for activism towards calling for a new set of safer regulations on firearms. After seeing so many atrocities caused by unchecked gun privileges, Jazmine felt that she could not just sit and wait around for change. She took matters into her own hands by starting to appeal to lawmakers via letters for safer gun laws.
This fight for restrictions on firearms is a topic that hits home with Jazmine. When she was younger, Jazmine’s own grandfather threatened to commit suicide using a gun. Jazmine was deeply disturbed by the fact that he, a war veteran suffering from PTSD, was able to obtain a gun in the first place.
Jazmine wants to fix this problem—not just for her grandfather, but for her sisters, friends, and every other child whose innocence has ever been threatened by a gun. As an older sibling to two younger sisters, Jazmine wishes to make a change so that students won’t have to grow up worrying that going to school will cost them their lives.
Like many other icons of progressive movements, Jazmine has not always been met with love and support. In fact, she has faced heavy opposition in her very conservative hometown of Riverton, Wyoming. Internet trolls of all ages have called Jazmine “ignorant,” “weak," "worthless,” and have even sent her death threats in response to her advocacy.
This immense negativity would scare many into slowing down, but this has not been the case with Jazmine. Instead of succumbing to the hate, Jazmine rises above it, leaning on the support of her family, friends, and one of her favorite teachers. She is relentless in having her voice heard, and she knows that her words are a powerful tool which cannot be quietened by the hate of a few.
In spite of her suffering, Jazmine Wildcat is a symbol of hope. She has been recognized as an Earth Ambassador, a member of the Class of 25 under 25 by UNITY, and a Generation Indigenous Ambassador with CNAY. Most recently, she has worked with leading magazine Teen Vogue to raise awareness about gun violence.
She gives hope to her little sisters that one day, they won’t live in a community plagued by gun violence; she gives hope to the teens who feel like they don’t have a voice in society; she gives our nation hope of change for a better tomorrow. This hope that she fosters through her continuous advocacy for safer gun laws will undoubtedly push America into an age of social and political improvement.