Victor Lopez-Carmen is an activist with a big heart and an old soul. In his TED Talk: The Power of Indigenous Intergenerational Intelligence, Victor shares his belief in the strength and importance of intergenerational values. Victor is a third-year Harvard Medical School student, a member of Boston’s COVID-19 Health Inequities Task Force, and co-chair of the UN Global Indigenous Youth Caucus, the founder of Translations 4 Our Nations (an initiative to translate COVID information into multiple Indigenous languages), and a man who is engaged with humanity.
His perspective comes from a dual-tribe heritage—the Pascua Tribe from Arizona on his mother’s side, and the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe from South Dakota on his father’s. This cherished birthright taught Victor the blessings of a multi-generational family and instilled in him a deep respect for his past.
Victor speaks in his TED Talk about the traditions that shaped who he is today. He holds himself to a cultural obligation to live his life for others: past, present and future. This faith is built on the tribal philosophy of the “Seventh Generation Ethics” which is a spiritual contract that embraces the three generations behind you (parents, grandparents, great grandparents), yourself in the present, and the three generations before you (children, grandchildren, great grandchildren). Victor speaks about the intergenerational resilience that comes from generations of trauma, sacrifice and memories to be carried forward. He believes the actions you take today will honor those before you and impact the lives of future generations.
In times of struggle, when he feels like giving up, he asks two questions of himself:
How are you living up to the dreams of your ancestors?
How will future generations know that you loved them?
He describes the “Five Personal Applications” – Storytelling, Reconciliation, Respect for Indigenous People, Prayer & Action, and Respect for Women – as a code of honor. It means no matter who you are or what your ancestry is, you have to make sure you tell the story of where you came from, study all cultures, know your neighbors and make your decisions with the knowledge that what you do today will impact future generations. And finally, it’s critical to understand the role of the women in your culture as well as their role in society.
Countway Library honors Victor Lopez-Carmen, who may be young in years, but whose sense of humanity reflects a man with a lifetime of wisdom.