We Belong to One Another

by Jaclyn Roessel

This a special Valentine’s Day note of gratitude and admiration to the women in my life:

I have been blessed with the gift of interacting with some amazing women. Women who are dedicated to making our community better, raising awareness about women’s rights and issues and furthering the understanding of diversity. I have listened to friends argue passionately about why certain issue from blood quantum to women’s access to healthcare matter. I’ve shared lunches with aspiring lawyers who discuss justice issues, listened to a panel discussion where an artist detailed her passion for her work and her advocacy for ending homelessness. I have been overwhelmed with the drive, inspiration and work of these women. Most of whose ages are close to mine. I call all of them friends, sisters even, as we are all fighting the same fight – one of equality, empowerment and awareness.

With Jovanna

With Jovanna at Women’s reproductive rights advocacy event

Navajo is matriarchal society, meaning when a new child is born the baby takes the clan of the mother – no matter if they are boy or girl, as we are the bloodline. It is the women who own the land. When a couple is married it was traditional custom for the groom to move-in with the bride and her family.

Navajos believe half of your body is female – the other male, but they exist as one. We learn by doing. I was watching a close friend the other day tell my niece it is important to put your shoes on starting with the right side as this is your female side. He talked of how this is how we respect this part of us.

With Thalia, Robyn and Angela

With Thalia, Robyn and Angela

It is important to understand even though women have certain roles our balance in society depends on the men. We know we need men to assist in the continuance of our culture as we depend on them to be the leaders – whether through being medicine men or by protecting our land. The balance hinges on our ability to incorporate and maintain the teachings of Hozhó – the philosophy of everything having a living essence and co-existing in harmony with one another.

With Nanibaa

With Nanibaa at an arts event

I started this blog as a celebration of women because I believe American society does not celebrate or respect women enough, in particular women of color. So today, on a day of love I wanted to send a special note of gratitude to the women I have been so fortunate to meet and work with in my life. This is a love letter to these women as I am grateful for what they have taught me – so far. I am a young Navajo woman and I understand in order for my community to improve, I need to be a part of the dialogue but most importantly part solution.

With retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor

With retired Supreme Court Justice and advocate for women, Sandra Day O’Connor

Ladies your work and personas are ones which drive me to do more and grow. I believe we carry one another and I am humbled to continue to learn from you. Ahé’hee’ (Thank you).

Jovanna Perez + Nanibaa Beck + Kristin Thomas + Sierra Teller Ornelas + Andrea Preston + Chelsea Chee + Jessica Begay + Nikole Yurt + Adrienne Keene + Rachael Myer + Dr. Jessica Metcalfe + Billie Fidlin + Mary Stephens + Cassandra Hernandez + MaRia Bird + April Bojorquez + Mikaela Crank-Thinn + Kate Crowley + Angelica Delgadillo + Rebecca Balog + Natalie Brown + Lisette Flores + Alexandrea Schulte + Nitasha Half + Annabell Bowen + Lindsay Nordstrom + Ashley Uentillie + Serena Castillo + Brenda Golden + Karen Spencer-Barnes + Andrea Hanley + Darsita Ryan + Donalita Bitsinnie + Nikke Alex + Shaylin Shabi + Misha Newell + Millie Chalk + Vania Guevara + Bobbi Nez + Melissa Bob + Velma Craig

With special thanks to…

My mom Karina + niece Angela: I live my life to make you proud. I love you.

My sisters Robyn + Kim + Thalia

My grandmas Lillian + Mae + Eva + Marie

My aunties Faith + Mary + Michele + Lorinda + Jeanne + Ramona + Jennifer + Theresa

My (cousin) sisters, I love you all.

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