Native American culture & teachings through a modern lens

Injustice & K’é in the Borderlands

Growing up I heard many stories. Shared by my late Nalí’s (paternal grandparents), my masaní (maternal grandmother) and from my parents about our life as Diné (Navajo). Whether it is was the poetic story of my Nalí Hastiin seeing my Nalí asdzaan for the first time. Or the stories my masaní would share about her time at boarding school. These stories were reminders of love, trial and the strong family I came from. Many of these stories reminded me how this country’s history is a repetitious contradiction of what is just and humane.

As I have written here before, one of my ancestors was a survivor of the Navajo Long Walk. My late Nalí asdzaan would share her story with me throughout my life. My great-great-great grandmother escaped from Hweełdí (Place of Suffering aka Ft. Sumner or Bosque Redondo) to return to Diné Bikéyah using the medicine of her family to help her home.  She’s long been my motivation to live my life with compassion, empathy and in service of others.

In partnership with fellow co-producer Alix Blair, I have been assisting the creation of an audio documentary about the impact of the Navajo Long Walk 150 years since the signing of the Treaty of 1868. While, this self-funded project is outside of my work with Grownup Navajo, it is one that has fundamentally challenged my outlook about the culture, history and future of my people. In the year that Alix and I have been co-creating, this project has changed me. It is through this process I was able to access a part of the story I never allowed myself to feel and subsequently, it helped me process anger and grief, I didn’t know I was holding.

As Alix and I spoke with various Navajo community members about their families’ stories, I felt the pain of the separation from family and land. It was the first time in my life where the triumph of returning home after four years of imprisonment, did not mask the pain of knowing this occurred to people I knew. I grew up aware of this story, so I began this project without illusions, I knew thousands of people’s lives were lost, the treatment of my relatives was horrendous but again it was through working on this project I felt safe to grieve. To feel the loss of not only who did not return home but to understand parts of our life ways, sovereignty completely shifted as a result of this catastrophic event. In this place of grief I was also given a gift. Further insight into the power of K’é and the power of possessing compassion for others.

Source: Jorge Ramos Internet

Lately, this same grief and rage has boiled up in my chest, as I read and watch the horrible to news of the treatment of families fleeing their homelands. Families often seeking asylum from violence in Mexico and many Central American countries including Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador**; only to be stopped, deported and have their children ripped away from them and be imprisoned by the US government. I’ve cried over dinner at the haunting photos of children, the same age of my nephew, screaming for their parents. My heart aches at the lack of humanity with which this administration is treating these people. People.  Let us not forget, they are people.

This country is continuing the legacy of xenophobic practices used to “conquer” and subjugate Native people put in place decades ago. They have tested these tactics before at the border, in the south and in schools across the country. The omnipresent argument of manifest destiny serves as an eerie reminder of paths this government has walked before. But I see through the biblical justifications for placing babies in cages and leaving children to keep warm under mylar blankets in converted warehouses. I can’t not stomach it and yet, I can’t look away as I don’t want to ignore what is happening.

The Navajo concept K’é often is simplistically describe as “kinship”. But in the ways that I have studied and learned about the K’é from my elders and family it is not simply being related to each other. K’é is the recognition that in being in relationship/kinship to each other whether through our clan system or the simply connection as a Bilá ashladii or “five-fingered person” we are therefore responsible to each other.

I believe we, as Navajo, Indigenous people, those with liberal, conservative beliefs need to connect with our humanity and take action. The trauma that is being exerted over these families and children is corrupted power that will create deep generational trauma. How is it that I know this? Because this kind of trauma and deep reaching pain is one that is still being lived out in Native communities as a result of the systemic racist treatment seen throughout the continuum of federal Indian policy. To be clear, I am not comparing pain between communities, but simply saying these policies have been “tested” and proven to work. I refuse to be complacent in my actions to help these families today by giving to this cause both monetarily and by offering my voice in this reflection (and beyond) in the spirit of k’é. I pray these children and their families will not only find comfort, safety and justice but that they will be able to remain together regardless of which side of the border they make home.

Information on How to Support Families:

THE CUT: What You Can Do Right Now to Help Immigrant Families Separated at the Border

Refinery29: How To Help Migrant Parents & Children Who Are Separated At The Border

Organizations to Donate To:

The Florence Project – This Arizona-based organization offers free legal services to men, women, and unaccompanied children in immigration custody. (Disclosure: this is the organization I have supported.)

RAICES – This Texas-based organization offers free and low-cost legal services to immigrant children and families.

More on the Injustice:

Taking Migrant Children From Parents Is Illegal, U.N. Tells U.S.

 

**Correction: This post first appeared designating only Mexico as the only country of origin from which migrant families are traveling. This update aims to distinguish the rich cultures, nations and communities Latino families call home and claim as their heritage. As each family carries with them the rich history of their people, we want to participate in this dialogue as an ally who acknowledges and works to understand these intricacies in a way that does not erase experiences and identities but values where we all come from.

 

Dream Medicine and Reflections of the Future

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I believe in time travel. I believe in the power of dreams because on some days, I can feel the memory of this ability within my vessel too. I understand dreams to be medicine. Sometimes, it is these tools which first communicate illness in our bodies, distortion in the fabric of our relationships and families. At times, it is the ancestors who tell us truths to quell our worries in these realms. They remind of the power we have yet to tap or even call-in on us and reach out when they feel we are not fully reaching for our potential.
Many Indigenous communities used dreams as medicine to heal. Communities along the what is known today as the Colorado River used dreams to select the leaders of their communities. This practice is one which fills me joy. How beautiful it is to measure leadership by the seeing of what is possible? When I think of what I want to see in leaders of my community, I often include the desire for them to possess vision. How potent of a concept, to demand our leaders project generations ahead beyond the “future” gains they propose.
There are dreams I carry today which give me comfort. In moments when I lose faith or sit in doubt, I remind myself of these medicines still at work in my life. There are times when I am delivered a blessing only to be reminded that I knew it was coming because I had dreamed it. I am humbled regularly by this in the moments when I am relieved a blessing has arrived and I simultaneously think of all the times, I doubted, gave up hope that it was ever possible.
My work as a writer is influenced by the concept of futurism, specifically Afrofuturism a term coined by Mark Dery which means to essentially reimagine the future and its possibilities through a Black lens of creativity, technology and science. What I find most inspiring about this concept and the correlations made by Indigenous Futurism, is the restoring and acknowledgement of our sovereignty as Indigenous people to project and dream a future where we will not only exist but a future in which our dream medicine will continue to heal us.
When we look at our history of persecution and survivance, I am inspired by the miracle of our existence – we were not suppose to be here. Yet, we are; in spite of the millions of actions taken since contact to destroy our way of life and us. Our ancestors dreamt us to this place.
Afrofuturist and Indigenous Futurist thought, are two incredibly radical concepts because it demands we accept our blessings now that we will continue to be prayed into the existence of the future. In dreams there exists a kind of freedom to imagine all that is possible and I plan to continue to surrender to the power of these dreams because there is a level of wholeness my dream self has achieved that I am still striving for, one woven so closely to all the medicine women who have walked and will walk this earth and I must remember in this life, to practice acceptance because their blessings are already here…and still on their way. There are places my unborn children have already traveled and yes, that place too is beautiful.

T’áá hwó’ ají t’éego…It is up to You

I have missed writing.
T’áá hwó’ ají t’éego.
It hurts to write. Like the struggle of returning to my running practice a couple of weeks ago. My body is not used to sitting to type. I have grown accustomed to writing for myself. My mind does not want to focus on one thought. It has grown comfortable of the flow of the pen as it writes in my journal meandering across the page.

 
T’áá hwó’ ají t’éego.
I took a break. Walked around the living room. Drank water. Bounced on my trampoline. This part of my day is one of my favorites. I love the freedom of jumping on this contraption. It has quelled nerves, relieved stress, calmed anger and conspired with me to procrastinate as I avoid words longing to be written.

 
T’áá hwó’ ají t’éego.
This phrase is one which echoes in my head repeatedly throughout the week. Sometimes it is a whisper, sometimes it is a loud booming voice reminiscent of my late Nalí Hastiin’s. His favorite phrase, “If it is to be, it is up to me,” mirrors these words. T’áá hwó’ ají t’éego instructs “it is all up to your effort and hard work and determination.” Both phrases remind me how powerful each of us. The phrases iterate a theme of agency and self-determination.

 
I will be marking a year since I moved from Phoenix, and this life I live is a manifestation of t’áá hwó’ ají t’éego. I don’t know all the ways I have changed but I can feel I am a different person than I was a year ago. I am so grateful for all the ways I have been lead to this beautiful place in this Glittering World.
I have been challenged to examine my scars and fear, pushed to heal and grow. I have spent time deep in prayer and meditation and lately been thinking about what is possible when we “stay open” to the world around us.

 
Today I recognize how my decision to leave my job and pursue this journey allowed me to reconnect to myself, my culture, my history and the world. Writing this feels different as I try to compose a post as though I am writing to a dear friend in the middle of a long journey; even though I still haven’t made sense of all the events nor feel I have reached the destination. Simultaneously, I write as though I am providing a kind of performance in this correspondence as though to distract you from noticing how much time has actually passed between our visits or letters.

 

T’áá hwó’ ají t’éego.
One of the first poets I met when I was younger was Dorothy Allison. She wrote a book entitled, “Two or Three Things I Know for Sure” and since meeting her, I often motivate myself by noting two or three things I know for sure. Today I recognize: 1) My life, and its ability to be of service to others is up to me. 2) This is the instruction I am pushed to live out every day. I choose to autonomy, action, love and respect. I write these words as an offering, I act each day to be of service to this energy in the spirit of K’é.

And to you my dear friend, it is so good to see you again. Remember, t’áá hwó’ ají t’éego…live out your best effort.

Náádąą Rising & Other Reminders from the Cornfield

When I started my new adventure, I had no idea how much “new” I would be surrounded by. From finding a new coffee shop to hang out in to searching for a favorite new eatery to get carry-out from, life has been full of “firsts”. I’ve have also been seeking the answer to a new question – what songs do I sing to help the roots I am planting in this community be the healthiest?

 
I remember planting with my late Nalí asdzaan (paternal grandmother) when I was little. I love this memory of ours. From the feel of placing the jewel-toned corn kernels in the moist earth to the heat of the summer day, our entire time together was incredibly fun. I have been thinking of her consistently since I started to build my life in New Mexico. This memory came to be me recently as I have been reflecting about the kind of life I have planted and am cultivating. I remember her sharing songs as we planted. Offerings to the corn we hoped would grow in our field.

 
In my new home, days have been filled with exploration. I’ve been searching for my place within this community while also pushing myself to being open to people who cross my path. Being open provokes vulnerability which can be daunting. But there is treasure to be found in yourself and your surroundings when you crack open to (or from) a new experience. I recently shared a wonderful dinner with new friends and I was struck with pure giddiness as I felt the promise of a place being carved out for me here in these new lands.

 
As I have been seeking opportunities for Grownup Navajo to grow, I’ve longed for the strong sister bonds calling to me from across the desert. Answering prayers, I have connected to other motivating female Native entrepreneurs who have showed me a new kind of sisterhood. One formed and tested in the fire of trailblazing. They’ve cheered me on and reassured me of the normalcy of the journey I’ve traveled so far in launching my business.

 
In the corn field, my Nalí adszaan would move with measured intention. Creating the holes in the earth for the seeds with deliberate care. We would move row by row, being conscious of our thoughts and energy as we offered the seeds to the earth. Thinking about this day and the current point on my journey, I feel there are songs I need to learn and ones I somehow already know the melody. These “songs” I carry with me are ones of love, compassion and gentleness. I forget too easily, two lessons of the cornfield: 1) if I want corn to grow I have to get my hands dirty and work the earth and 2) corn takes time to grow. Much like children we must offer our praise and gratitude for the path that has unfolded. It is necessary to be thankful, even for the uncertain path.

 
I am grateful for the way the answers to the questions my heart asks arrive in my heart simultaneously quelling the anxiousness in my mind. Whether in the form of encouraging words from a fierce entrepreneur or an inspiring conversation with new friends, we are provided connections to the tools we need to continue to flourish. My life – each of our lives – have been prayed into existence and nurtured with intention, just like the corn that has grown in our fields. Corn which has grown for generations, blessed with songs whose power whisper reminders of our purpose. Our destiny is to grow and learn like the sacred náádąą (corn) we use for our prayers in the morning and ceremonies throughout our lives. Let’s hold this truth close, so we never doubt the direction we are going because it is innate in us to grow, rising bravely, like stalks of náádąą in a beautiful field.

Creative Rezilience & Community

The path is created by walking it.
I hear my late Nalí asdzaan (paternal grandmother) in my ear everyday saying, “you know what to do.” This message is now coupled with the reassurance of my parents, who remind me to trust my strength.

Opportunities have manifested from invitations to empowering events, messages from followers and friends.

This kind of faith in self, creativity & community has guided the journey of Grownup Navajo and carried us to our latest project. In a conversation earlier this year with the Executive Director of Rezilience Indigenous Arts Experience, Warren Montoya, I casually shared my desire to create a large scale puzzle incorporating my poetry with Diné bizaad (Navajo language). Without missing a beat, Warren invited Grownup Navajo to be a Program Partner at the 2nd Annual RezArtX festival.

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I immediately agreed and began thinking about how to construct it. A quick realization was the impact powerful images would have on the piece. Having worked with and followed the art of Onyota’a:ka artist Monique Aura Bedard from British Columbia, I reached out to her hopeful she’d be open to the collaboration. With great excitement she agreed. Together we flushed out what this puzzle could look like and decided we wanted it to include both of our languages and concepts of respect for our earth mother.
In collaboration and sisterhood, we created a large-scale, 3D mural puzzle incorporating language and poetry. The installation, “Nahasdzaan Níhimá: From My Mother I Learned All I Know” will be approximately 8 feet long and 4.5 feet high and will include 24, 16-inch cardboard, cubed, puzzle pieces. The puzzle will encourage visitors of RezArtX to experience language, art and poetry in an dynamic hands-on way.

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The concept of the puzzle is inspired by the ways in which we learn from the imminent matriarch in our lives Nahasdzaan Níhimá (Mother Earth) and the dził (mountains). We will launch this project at RezArtX our goal is to continue this project sharing more images, poems and phrases that our community can engage with and create.
As Grownup Navajo continues to grow and expand our focus of enciting community action through creative movement, art & culture, I am encouraged by the openness and power of K’é (kinship). How beautiful it is to be guided by the energy of people willing to trust and whole-heartedly collaborate. This project would not have been possible without the faith, encouragement & help of others. It is not often someone generously offers space for your creative play and it is rare for a sister you have never met in-person to be so giving of her own craft. I am incredibly thankful to both RezArtX and sister Aura, for their kindness in supporting this vision and cannot wait to see the public experience Aura and I’s project this Sunday, April 30 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Ahé’hee!

 

For more information in attending Rezilience visit www.rezartx.com. For those interested in supporting this project please e-mail me at grownupnavajo@gmail.comIMG_0017

 

Languages of New Lands

How do I prepare? How will I begin? How do I start?

Each of these questions has been racing through my mind each day since I committed to expanding Grownup Navajo full-time. Having moved from the Sonoran desert to the high Puebla desert I am slowing planting roots. Having never made a home outside of Arizona, I am beginning to understand how daunting the “all-possibility” mode of a journey can be.

In a recent conversation with Dennis Worden of NextGen Native, I shared how optimistic I am to one day speak the languages of these lands I find myself in now. What I shared on the podcast is how I do not mean the actual languages of the Native people who live here but the languages of the land. In leaving my beloved Sonoran Desert and O’odham Bikéyáh (O’odham Lands) , I understood more fully just how much the land of the desert made me who I am today. Living there I had conversations with sunsets, realized how mountains were actually purple and learned of the powerful impact of welcoming the sunrise each day. These lessons composed an entire language of the place in which I spent over 11 years.

I find myself in a new place observing. Watching the way the sun casts shadows on the hills around me, trying to recall from memory, after the sun sets, the profile of the beautiful mountains circling me, finding most often, how in my mind, they are blurry because we don’t know one another yet. Even things as simple as understanding a place with a tangible season, I am learning how to bring a sweater or jacket with me as I venture out the door.

I am also watching myself. Understanding how my body is struggling trying to find the light in the morning as my home is new to me. How happy I am to have creative brainstorms any time I choose since I do not have a structured schedule. I am simultaneously realizing how I long for a structured schedule because the openness of the each day can at times distract or intimidate me.

This journey is filled with unlearning and learning lessons and languages. How does one begin to speak new languages? Linguists today share that immersion is key. If you want to speak fluently, you need to surround yourself with the language you want to share. I am confident my act of throwing myself into the deep end of this adventure will result in my being able to speak the sacredness of this place.

While the newness of the exploration is daunting, I am continuously encouraged by the voice of my late Nalí asdzaan (paternal grandmother) in my head saying, “Don’t talk about it, just do it.” While I continuously have more questions than answers, right now I also know my observing, listening, questioning is all a part of me doing. While I may not know the language of these lands, I know I am capable of the growth in understanding. One learns language, yes through immersion but also through speaking. I want my actions to be pronounced so I will listen and then speak. I will act in an effort to communicate my heart’s work, understanding I will rise to the occasion of speaking the language this beautifully powerful place will teach me.

Sacred Journeys

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The Grownup Navajo community has continued to connect and power our community to new levels. Through multiple events and publishing of more and more vlogs, I have met more of you. Inspired by your energy I am starting a new adventure, read more about it HERE. In celebration of this new change, I am hosting a special event.

We are gathering in celebration of the journeys in sacredness we travel. Each one of us journeys on various paths each day. These movements are filled with connection and opportunities to reach, grow and thrive. In these mindset I invite you to join Grownup Navajo, DiRTYOGA and Tony Duncan for a unique event of poetry, flow yoga & flute music. 

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Saturday, January 28, 2017, take part in a special yoga session aimed at sharing the power of sacredness through creative flow. Grownup Navajo will share her poetry to the tune of award-winning musician, Tony Duncan’s flute, while the owners of DiRTYOGA will lead a session of rejuvenating flow.

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10-11:15am                     Flow Yoga + Flute + Poetry

11:15am – 12pm             Social 

Uptown Farmers Market – Phoenix, AZ

This session is FREE WITH DONATION of five non-perishable items. All donations will be collected and given to St. Mary’s Food Bank.

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Appreciating the Diné New Year & Seasons Change

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Ghąąjį’ bee nínáánááhai (It is the new year again with the mid-season)!

To mark the spirit of the season in the Diné (Navajo) calendar Grownup Navajo is hosting an inaugural event in appreciation of this time of year, TONIGHT, October 27, 2016.

We are holding a gathering to appreciate the Diné New Year and the seasons change. There will be a K’é (kinship) mixer, celebration, blessing and action.

I am so grateful for the generosity of our host venue, K’é and owner Pam Slim and her family who have been great supporters of Grownup Navajo. I am giddy at the thought of everyone sharing in kinship in their beautiful space.image

This month, Grownup Navajo also celebrates its fourth blogiversary, so we’ll have door prizes to share the love light! I am sending my gratitude to Beyond Buckskin Boutique, Rezonate Art, OXDX Clothing, First Nations artists Aura Last for their contributions of door prizes for both the in-person event and online contest happening now.

 

Also included in the festivities is a select number of Native creatives, sharing their work Nanibaa Beck of Notabove Jewelry will be sharing a showcase of her work along with pieces newly created! Kelvin Long the owner of Yeego Coffee will also be sharing delicious gowééh (coffee).

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As I have been sharing, Grownup Navajo has truly become a community and hosting this event will make that connection tangible. I am so eager to meet more of you and look forward to the fun we will have as we gather in – Ghąąjį’ baa ahxééh hwiindzin/appreciating the new year and seasons change!

 

 

 

 

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Event Details

October 27, 2016

6:30-8:30pm

K’é – 125 West Main Street

In Downtown Mesa, AZ

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Grace, Guts & Power

Growing up as the oldest grandchild and daughter in my family, I was keenly fond of praise. I relished in moments when my parents and grandparents would give me a compliment. I loved their feedback, whether it was about a speech I had written or how I did in the school play, I reveled in the feeling of their outward exclamations.

There were two things my grandparents would say however, that I wanted to hear most. If my late Nalí hastiin (paternal granddad) was ever impressed by something so much so that he said, “you have guts.” That was gold to me. I remember a couple times when I played in basketball games and he said, “That took guts, good job.” In college I ran for a pageant and came in as runner-up, I was crushed. When I told him on the phone I didn’t win, he sighed, clicked his tongue and said, “That took guts Jac, I am proud of you.”

Once my late Nalí Asdzaan (maternal grandmother), after my dad had given a great talk at the orientation for teachers shared, “Your dad really spoke with power.” She shook her fist as she closed her eyes as though it gave her strength just remembering him earlier in the day and the words he shared. I dreamed of her one day talking about me in that way.

The two of them, as I have written here many times, were my guideposts. Their compliments, teachings and stories drove me to strive. I wanted so much not solely to please them but I was so inspired by the way they lived their lives that I believed if I could follow their teachings, there would be hope for me to make similar impressions in the world.

 

I write this post still in disbelief at the remarkable night I had performing in celebration of OXDX Clothing’s Fall Release. I performed two poems, “Dear Girl-Made-of-Honey” and “Seeds of Resilience” which was written as a special collaboration with OXDX Clothing Founder, Jared Yazzie. I have given many public talks, I teach as well so public speaking is something I am comfortable with. However, if you measured my nerves on Saturday morning, I would have been noticeably anxious about the performance.

 

Performing my poetry was never my intention but standing on the stage and getting to share two poems which were foundational in my healing this year was such a privilege. I am honored to write this blog, thankful for the way it is received. I thought about my grandparents as I stood on the stage. I thought about how I never got to hear my Nalí asdzaan tell me I spoke with power. However, there were so many other compliments she shared with me while she was alive and I will carry those forward instead. I look at my life now, I think about how much I shook on the stage and realized, even in light of my fear, I had the guts to perform and I didn’t need any more compliments to reassure me…I could feel the power of the words reverberate in the room. Words given to me by the grace of Diyin Diné’é (Holy People) to share. I am so grateful for what this blog and these teachings…the same ones given to me by my late Nalís, have come to mean to people. It truly is beautiful to see that Grownup Navajo is not solely a blog. It now has a community of people surrounding it who work to “speak sacredness fluently” in their lives. That is power and it takes guts to commit to that value especially in a society that does not like difference. There are always threats to cultural learning, many created by a history of oppression in this country towards our people but also ones that we choose to let block us. It is those hurdles we must dismantle, they are the true challenge to furthering our knowledge base. When we choose to stop keeping ourselves from seeking more knowledge then we can truly harness our full power, utilize all our medicine to heal each other and show ourselves just what our guts are made of.

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This vlog shares the teaching of “ahééh jinízin”. Ahééh jinízin is the instructive ideology of being appreciative, living in thankfulness. Gratitude has been proven to help build resiliency in people. When we are thankful, it allows us to adapt to situations more fluidly, it strengthens our medicine.

In the spirit of this teaching I would like to say ahé’hee (thank you) to my family for their love and support and to my partner Warren, for his help with the GN booth, tech support in recording the performances and for offering a reserve of strength.

Seeds of Resilience

Growing up, my late Nalí Hastiin would continuously share the quote, “If it is to be, it is up to me.” He would recite it often to my siblings and I. Whether we had lost a game, received a poor grade or even were frustrated with something at school. He’d share these words as a way to continually remind us we had the power to change the circumstances.

I carry a notebook with me and this quote is one I return to often. It is one that helped drive the start of Grownup Navajo. I started this blog as a way to explore my Navajo teachings in light of both my Nalís (paternal grandparents) having passed away. Grownup Navajo began as way for me to challenge myself in the realization that if I wanted to learn more about my culture and language, then I needed to push myself to act not waiting for teachers to come to me but reach out looking for people to learn from.

This attitude of learning has truly become the foundation of my resiliency. In an effort to “speak sacredness fluently” in my life, I work to not simply accept my current level of cultural knowledge as something that is static but instead choose to cultivate sacredness through a dynamic and evolving way of searching for more clarity. In doing so, I reclaim my power in being able to facilitate my modern traditional education.

It is this journey of building my cultural resiliency that has brought kindred spirits into my life. From relationships of love and friendship, I am fortunate to have people brought to me by the Diyin Diné’é (Holy People) to aid me in this journey to speak sacredness fluently. It is in this effort that I was asked to collaborate with Native fashion designer Jared Yazzie, founder of OXDX Clothing. By clan, Jared and I are related and I call him my “brother awesome” because he truly is positive and simply, awesome. From having his work featured in National exhibitions to mainstream publications, I hold great admiration for his work and who he is a Diné hastiin (Navajo man). Over the course of knowing each other, we’ve held many meetups to talk about ideas and at one of these Jared asked me if I would be interested in writing a poem to celebrate the launch of his 2016 Fall Release – “Save What We Have Left”. I eagerly agreed and dove into this project guided solely by his hope to have the uplifting message potentially include the title of the collection.

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The OXDX crew (L-R): Founder/Owner, Jared Yazzie, Assistant, Shaina Yazzie & Hannah Manuelito – Make-up Artist.

It has been an honor to work with Jared on this project. From coffee dates to being a part of his creative retreat to shoot the promo video for the collection, I have enjoyed working with Jared and his assistant Shaina Yazzie.  OXDX Clothing and Grownup Navajo have many things in common but the biggest link is our unwavering pride in being Navajo. The poem “Seeds of Resilience” celebrates the power of Navajo and other Indigenous peoples. It touts the generosity of our people as the most incredible quality to our existence.

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With other OXDX models & managing crew, making magic during the video shoot.

OXDX Clothing will be hosting a Fall Release event on September 17 in Chandler, AZ. The event will include music, an OXDX fashion show (naturally) and a special performance by me. This will be the first time I have performed my work in public. We will also be unveiling a special collaboration t-shirt at the event as it has always been my hope for Grownup Navajo to have an apparel line.

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I am nervous but incredibly thrilled to share this piece of my creativity with Grownup Navajo followers and beyond. I hope what relatives see is an example of the possibilities of growth that exist when our energy is not used up defending the knowledge we don’t possess but rather accept, for our own benefit, where we are in our cultural learning journey. In doing so I hope we can challenge ourselves to act each day in small ways to become fluent in our people’s knowledge. This can mean different things – learning clans we don’t know we have, using greetings of appreciation in our language, eating more traditional foods. It is my belief that for us to continue to build and cultivate our resiliency, we need to understand, “if it is to be…”it is up to us. We are who are ancestors prayed for – we are meant for this earth, for this time and I hope this poem in a small way can kindle the flames, both big and small that fuel the desire to learn more so we can continue to prepare ourselves to be the cultural carriers for the next generations.

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It is with a humble heart that I share with you this beautiful video of this poem, “Seeds of Resilience”. Produced and edited by Paper Rocket Productions a Native-owned film company it celebrates the OXDX Clothing brand.

Let us challenge ourselves to harvest seeds of love & resilience for the next generations.