Sutton King aims to break down challenges facing Native American community in NYC

Crystal Cranmore Image
Thursday, November 30, 2023
Sutton King hopes to break down challenges facing Native Americans
Race and Culture reporter Crystal Cranmore talks to Sutton King, co-founder of the Urban Indigenous Collective.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Thursday marked the end of Native American Heritage Month, but the work doesn't stop as a new generation of activists push for the rights and progression of indigenous people, including one woman who is advocating for her people in New York City.

In the heart of Midtown, Manhattan, there's a new resource for the region's Native American community.

While the Urban Indigenous Collective has been around since 2019, it recently opened its first community center.

The goal is to provide access to culturally tailored health and wellness services for those who identify as indigenous and are living in the Tri-State area.

Sutton King is the co-founder and a descendent of the Oneida and Menominee tribes of Wisconsin.

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Afro-Indigenous New Yorker Sutton King is on a mission to provide advocacy and a safe space for urban Natives.

Moving to the Big Apple in 2011 meant new challenges in accessing healthcare.

"Having my own chronic illness that I experience, coming here at 18 years old, I really needed to be able to access a culturally tailored healthcare," Sutton said.

According to the National Council of Urban Indian Health, 78% of Native Americans in the United States live in urban areas, but only about 1% of the Indian Health Services budget is allocated to urban programs.

"We don't want to explain the misconceptions, or be able to have to educate a provider about our lived experiences," Sutton said.

In honor of Native American Heritage Month, King spoke to the Eyewitness News Belong team about her heritage and journey from growing up on a reservation to helping others find and reconnect with their own roots through community events.

The community center is a milestone, but the organization needs donations to start providing direct services to those in need.

"This is important to me because I grew up in the power circle, and I grew up connected to my traditions and my culture, very proud to be afro-indigenous," Sutton said. "But I also understood and saw a lot of the challenges that my community experiences."

Challenges she hopes to break down.


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