To the beat of traditional American Indian drumming, Eugene Mills joined Carson High School classmates dancing Wednesday in solidarity with the global environmental demonstration Idle No More.
"I want to make a difference in my community," he said, "and show people you can make a difference in the world."
The movement was launched in Canada in opposition to a bill that relaxes protection of Canadian waterways and makes it easier for corporations to lease native land. Hundreds of demonstrations similar to Carson High's have been held throughout the United States. Carson's demonstration involved about 20 dancers, three drummers and dozens of spectators.
Mills, 16, a member of the Washoe and Hualapai tribes, said the issue extends beyond American Indians.
"It's a team effort," he said. "All you need is people willing to help change their habits and way of living."
Noah Jennings, freshman class president and liaison to the American Indian students, organized the demonstration.
After hearing about Idle No More, he approached the Native American club.
"There was a lot of enthusiasm," he said. "They've spent the last two days practicing and rehearsing for this."
The club used the demonstration as an opportunity to form its own drumming group, the Young Warriors, which performed native songs.
"I always wanted to sing my whole life," said Darnel George, 15.
Fellow drummer Majesta Roach, 17, learned the art from her family.
"I learned from my aunts and uncles," she said. "We're basically surrounded by it."
Roach said she hopes the group will continue to perform in other venues, adding, "We don't want to be closed up and not sharing our voices."
As the drummers pounded a rhythm, Olivia Rupert, 18, this year's Miss Teen Washoe, led students in a traditional round dance and invited classmates of all ethnic backgrounds to join in.
"It was awesome," she said. "I was nervous because I didn't think anyone would dance. I was glad as many people joined in as did. And they learned really quickly, too."
While Mariah Whitcome supported the cause, she also was interested to learn more about the Native American culture. Whitcome, 17, who also joined in the dance, said, "That was probably the coolest part. It's something really different than what we experience every day."
That unity, Roach said, was the point of the demonstration.
"They say we're all different people, but we are all one people all together," she said. "I was taught that at a very young age."
To learn more about Idle No More, go to idlenomore.ca.