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Native American performer shares story
Faces and Places
1028 Faces Places Sherry Holland
Native American performer and motivational speaker Sherry Holland and her family frequently perform at fairs, schools and community events. - photo by Photo provided.
Name: Sherry Holland

Native American performer and motivational speaker. Holland performs frequently with her three children.

Family: Holland and her husband Quincy Holland have three children, Brandon, Briana and Trinity.

What is your heritage?
“I am North Cheyenne, Ogalala, Sioux and Tlinget Eskimo.”

Where are you from? “Denver, Colo.”

What brought you to Hinesville?
Holland’s husband is a soldier stationed at Fort Stewart.

How did you get started speaking and performing?
“I’d have to say it started about eight years ago. I was in a bad relationship and it seemed to be a pattern for me, so I reached out to a battered women’s shelter and when I was attending classes, I sort of opened up and learned it was OK to speak freely about what I’d been through.
“As a Native American, you learn you need to have pride and don’t speak about things like that.”

Where do you perform and speak now? “Fairs, schools, any kind of event.”
 How did you tailor your routine, which started in women’s shelters, so that it appeals to children in school? “I started speaking at shelters, then I realized my speeches had a lot to do with children, so I changed and geared it to kids. I started to to go schools, but saw kids got bored fast. So, my kids and I put together a performance with heritage. We started doing Native American dances and singing, and
we did pretty well. In our second year, we got invited to Channel 9 news, so we were pretty excited about that.
“We combined old-fashioned Native American music with contemporary, hip-hop and techno. It’s very different.”
What made you want to go into this line of work? Holland said she had a difficult childhood, but was able to pull herself out of a bad situation and become successful. She said she wants others to know they can do the same.
“Growing up, my mom was a wino. Actually, she abused Lysol, which is where people take a nail and drive it into a can of Lysol, pour the liquid into a glass, mix it with water and drink it ... My brother, sister and I were homeless a lot. We stayed in cars or abandoned homes. I was abused, and I tried to take the abuse for my brother and sister because it hurt me more than anything else to see them get hurt. We later found out mom was bipolar and manic depressive.”

How did you break the cycle of abuse? “Well, at first, I didn’t. I seemed to get into one bad relationship after another. But I turned it around after I reached out to Gateway Women’s Shelter (in Colorado). ... And I realized my son wasn’t too happy. I had just met my now-husband, and mentally, I decided I wasn’t going to let my mom have power over me anymore. I had blamed myself because I wanted to do different things, but I was afraid. I decided my child was so important that whatever was in my mind, I was going to do it.
“My turning point was when I walked into PBS in Denver, went to the counter and told them I had no media experience, but I was willing to help wherever I was needed.”

What’s your favorite part of speaking and performing?
“I’d have to say, the looks on the kids’ faces when we perform.”

What’s your least favorite part?
“Relocating and starting over, because now I’m here in Georgia and nobody knows who we are. But it Texas, Montana and Colorado, I’m very well known.”

You also recently won a pageant. Tell us about that. “It’s Miss Sooktee Nation 2009, which means most beautiful. The pageant is every year in Denver. ... I found out about the pageant and a friend entered me. She didn’t know you couldn’t enter if you were a mom or past a certain age, but they made an exception for me.
It was funny, because backstage there were all these little size zeroes worried about their hair and makeup and I’m worried about juiceboxes and chasing my toddler. When I won, I didn’t even hear my name called. ... I thought, there’s no way I could win. I was the first mother ever to win.”
What do you have planned next
? “I’d like to get back into Native American performing and speaking engagements here. Also, every time I do a show, people ask, ‘Where’s your book?’ So, that’s something I’ll probably do, too. ... Next month is Native American Month and my daughter’s teacher invited us to perform at Britton Elmentary. Also, the mayor will sign a proclamation making November Native American Month in Hinesville.”

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