Sex-trafficking survivor honors Indigenous Peoples’ Day

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ALBUQUERQUE— Kimberly Wahpepah said she sees Indigenous Peoples Day as more than just a holiday. She sees it as a day where people stop trying to put her down, and instead build her up and honor history.

"Coming from someone of my background whose been discriminated, whose been told you’re not worth it, whose been through a lot,” said Wahpepah. “Society just shuts you up, and says be silent, but today means we’re important."

Wahpepah has dedicated her life to fighting for Indigenous people, and has become an advocate for sex-trafficking victims. As a survivor herself, their stories hit close to home.

"I was homeless in 2009, that started it all,” said Wahpepah. "My first husband was a heroin addict, and his mom was selling herself on the west side of Gallup."

Before she knew it, she was following in her footsteps.

"At the time, I was innocent,” she said. “I was in high school, I didn’t know until I started doing research.”

She now strives to help others who might find themselves in a similar struggle.

"No matter the criticism, no matter if people knock me down, they never experienced anything in my shoes, so what do they know?" she asked.

Indigenous Peoples Day holds a special significance for her, and she says the support fuels her to continue her hard work.

"I’m doing it with compassion, I’m doing it because I want a change,” she said.