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Exclusive: Marvel's Hero Project spotlights real-life heroes making a difference

By Carly Lane

New Disney+ series Marvel's Hero Project wants to remind you all about the efforts of real-life superheroes doing their best to change the world, one day at a time, for their communities all across the country — and their latest episode features a young woman who has been raising awareness about a longstanding issue to hopefully inspire her peers to do the same.

Tokata Iron Eyes became the face of indigenous youth when she participated during the Standing Rock protests at the age of twelve. Four years later, now sixteen, she lives on the Pine Ridge Reservation and continues to organize rallies, host letter-writing efforts and create videos in order to bridge the gap between cultures and effect significant change.

“My biggest superpower is the ability to be a translator between these two different worlds, this world I live in on the reservation and amongst other indigenous folks, and also this world of people who might not have ever met a native person or have really recognized that there are still indigenous people in this country, or maybe on this globe," said Tokata. "I think the power to educate and the power to build bridges through language and through stories, I think that would be my biggest superpower."

Through collaboration with her teacher and classmates, Tokata has worked to create videos that address the important concept of self-love — especially within a culture that has often experienced negative representation in the media. Indigenous women, specifically, are more likely to become targets of violence at a much higher rate than any other group in the United States. 

"Empowerment is so essential and important because a lot of the issues that indigenous women are facing are heavily overlooked. Especially for young women, it’s so important to be able to know how we can address these larger systemic issues that are powering such intricate personal ones in our lives every day," Tokata said. "How can we address them, and how can we actively fight against them, using art and using positivity? How can we create change without perpetuating the violence that we see around us? And I think that to be able to do that is essential to creating a movement that is peaceful and is positive."

You can watch an exclusive clip of Tokata's episode, which will be available to stream on Disney+ beginning this Friday, January 17, below.

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