Yá’at’eeh Yas Niłt’ees!

by Jaclyn Roessel

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Yá’at’eeh Yas Niłt’ees!

 January customarily begins with a refreshing vibe, the holidays are over and a new year begins with an attitude tuned to the possibility of a clean slate. In Diné Bizaad (Navajo language), January or Yas Niłt’ees means the “time of melting snow”.

One of my favorite months because it seems to correlate with the feeling of January – a big exhale after the season of busyness which preceded it. When you live on the reservation though snow melting can be a headache as the ratio of dirt road outnumbers paved ones and mud-bogging is a daily hurdle. Of course, among the beautiful plateaus and land formations, January in Diné Bikeyáh (Navajoland) is a beautiful time in the cold winter air, the coming and going of moisture and the promise of renewal it will bring in the spring. As you refocus this month, may you find inspiration or encouragement in some of this month’s shares.

SUPPORT. In the recent newsletter of Native Health, a local Phoenix non-profit, the organization announced it was building a community garden within the Steele Indian School Park. I am excited to see the organization grow this community effort and create a place which champions healthy eating. With diabetes being prevalent among American Indian people, turning to healthy eating is imperative to lower risk of the disease for all community members. Visit Native Health’s website to learn how to get involved.

NOMINATE. In April, I was awarded the Arizona Humanities Council’s Rising Star Award. I was most impressed to see an organization create an avenue for recognizing the work of young people making a difference in the humanities community. Arizona is filled with many people who work their passions to create impact so I am honored to be an inaugural recipient of the award. I am especially delighted to help spread the mission of AHC as they begin to accept nominations this year. Learn more about how to nominate a community member HERE.

GO NATIVE. Beyond Buckskin is launching a weeklong campaign beginning tomorrow, January 13th. The style challenge created by BB founder Jessica Metcalfe is meant to reclaim the term “go Native” which has longtime been used in a negative fashion to suggest American Indian cultures are less than others. To take part, wear something Native made – clothes, shoes, jewelry, etc. – everyday this week. Share your “outfit of the day” photos on your favorite social media accounts, not forgetting to use the #GoNATIVE so more people are encouraged to create a stylish look. Read Jessica’s blog post which shares more about this week long movement.

VISIT. A new website was shared with me this week shined a light on a group of Navajo women who have a blog called Blue Bird Pinups. These group of ladies rock 1950s/60s fashion while hosting community events which help veterans and even take part in fashion shows of Native designers. I continuously share American Indian people don’t exist in a vacuum, the Blue Bird Pinups are evidence of this as their style is a blend of retro fashion, rockabilly and their Navajo culture. Follow their blog here.

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