Rise &Thrive Self-Love & Healing
THE COVER ART
(Instagram post by Nani in November 2020)
A Mural for Valle de Oro Urban Refuge Albuquerque, NM, November 2020
NANI CHACON Nanibah “Nani” Chacon is a Diné and Chicana painter, muralist, and art educator. She has had art installed at the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts in Santa Fe, the Navajo Nation Museum in Window Rock, the ISEA International Arts and Technology Symposium, Old Town Lansing, and in the “Que Chola” Exhibition at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque, among other venues. @nanibah
“Leaving this year together with more understanding, compassion, growth and hope..... thanking this year for all its taught me in all the uncomfortable but necessary ways…” (IG: 12/2020)
Last year I was invited with four other artists to collaborate on this project with Valle De Oro: wildlife refuge. Valle de Oro is an area of 550 acres. The land was previously used for hay and dairy production, VDO has begun the process of restoration returning the land back to a floorplan reflective of the lower Rio Grange Valle. For this project each artist worked with a conservationist and VDO staff to create hand painted murals to illustrate one of the 5 areas of restoration. My piece “Constellations” is about the intersection of belief systems rooted in the natural symbiosis of plants, animals and the earth and how we participate in that creating generational belief patterns. While we champion the science of wildlife conservation, the idea of conservation should be rooted in our respect and care for the land. The recognition that it is our responsibility to care for life, generationally and in its entirety. This piece is dedicated to my father Lorenzo Chacon who always shared his love of planting trees.
Miss Shiney–Kaiit .1 Verde Bayou–Earth Surface People .2 Prayers–Ms. PANIK .3 Piraña–Lolita, Deuce Eclipse, 2mx2, Debajo Del Agua .4 City of Angles–Zay_islike, Barrach, Sage Cornelius .5 Child of the Government–Jayli Wolf .6 Flowers–MyName IsTy .7 Seeds–Innastate .8 Blossom–Mato .9
tinyurl.com/SNAG11Music (Playlist art by Roger Perkins)
10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19.
Art by Craig George @craig.george23
Roots Girl–Eli Mac, Paula Fuga, Nattali Rize Close the Distance–Ya Tseen Indians Never Die–Black Belt Eagle Scout 7th Generation–F.R.E.E., Sage Cornelius, Liv The Artist Blue Eyes to Save Day (Acoustic)–Mozart Gabriel Slow Ride–Ladi6, Invincible Serenity by the Sea–OKA Eagle Feathers–Nataanii Means, Supaman Sounds of You–Mob Bounce Ce (one)–Xiuhtezcatl, Jaiia Cerff
BUY THIS IMAGE: https://www.istockphoto.com/photo/mountain-valley-with-asoaring-eagle-a-rocky-ledge-stretching-into-the-distance-gm1318411078-405547438
Contextualizing Original Wisdom for Troubled Times “This is the hardest time to live, but it is also the greatest honor to be alive now, and to be allowed to see this time. There is no other time like now. We should be thankful, for creation did not make weak spirits to live during this time. The old ones say ‘this is the time when the strongest spirits will live through and those who are empty shells, those who have lost the connection will not survive.’ We have become masters of survival - we will survive it is our prophecy to do so.” — Tiokasin Ghosthorse
Tiokasin is an author, teacher, activist and accomplished musician. He is a member of the Cheyenne River Lakota Nation of South Dakota and has a long history with Indigenous activism and advocacy. Tiokasin is the founder, host and executive producer of First Voices Radio since 1992. www.akantuinstitute.org
Photo: Badlands National Park, South Dakota
A Totem’s Prayerful Journey
Praying Indian Man
5,000 lb–16,000 Mile Healing Route for a Nation, Sacred Places, and Its People Since April 2021, the House of Tears Carvers of the Lummi Nation have visited more than 100 communities nationwide with their totem pole to raise awareness of Indigenous sacred sites at risk from oil, gas, mining, and infrastructure projects. After making stops throughout the Pacific Northwest, California, Florida, and numerous stops in between, on July 14, the House of Tears Carvers and a caravan of activists began the Red Road to D.C. This was an eight-stop tour of some of the most wellknown sacred sites across the land, before landing in Washington, D.C. The tour brought healing and awareness for the immediate protection of these sacred Indigenous sites.
Throughout the journey, the carvers and activists garnered support from numerous tribes, Indigenous groups, and Native and environmental organizations, who value the protection of sacred sites and Indigenous rights. The journey was hosted by these partners: Native Organizers Alliance, IllumiNative, National Congress of American Indians, Se’Si’Le, and The Natural History Museum. The totem pole is curently on display in front of the National Museum of the American Indian where an exhibition of the House of Tears Carvers’ totem pole journeys was on view in the Fall of 2021. The totem pole is expected to move to a more permanent location to be announced.
Salmon Heads on Eagle Wings
Chinook Salmon (both sides)
Canadian Copper Full Body Wolf
Praying Mother Child with a Tear of Trauma Rattle Seven Tears of Trauma Flowing River Waters
Photo: Chloe Collyer
Full Moon Fire Giant Pearle
The Symbology of This Totem Descriptions below appeared on the Red Road to D.C. website; words by Jewell James (Lummi), Head Carver from House of Tears Carvers
WHITE EARTH MN 7/24
On the top of the totem is the Full Moon and included into its design is the Indian-in-the-Moon. (‘He sits on the moon praying to the Creator to save Mother Earth for all children’). Also, there is the Fire carved before the praying/meditating male figure. The fire does not have logs in it but a circle that represents the Giant Pearle owned by, Man that Married the Moon, which is based on Pueblo mythology. Below this is the Eagle, he is headed downward in a dive to the earth. The eagle carries it’s people’s prayers to the heavens and is a strong symbol of our spirituality. The head is projecting outward and downward. On both Eagle Wings are Salmon Head designs.
“In the Summer of 2021, the House of Tears Carvers of the Lummi Nation successfully t ransported their 25-foot totem pole from Washington State to Washington D.C., stopping for ceremony and live-streamed events with communities leading efforts to protect sacred places under threat from resource extraction and industrial development.”
MACKINAW CITY MI
THACKER PASS NV
BLACK HILLS SD
BEARS EAR UT
Virtual locations in AK: • MOTHER KUSKOKWIN RIVER • TONGASS FOREST • BRISTOL BAY WATERSHED • ARCTIC NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
GRAND CANYON AZ
CHACO CANYON NM
Restore the Salmon, Remove the Dams. Art by Aly McKnight (Shoshone-Bannock)
Below the Eagle are two full bodied Chinook Salmon—one to the left of his head and one to the right. Below the Chinook is a Canadian Copper. To the right, along the side of the left side of the pole (when you are looking at it from the front) is a full body Wolf. Below the Copper is the Praying Mother Kneeling with Rattle (Mother Earth/Medicine Woman/Shamanist/Grandmother). Full Body Bear
On the lower left, behind the mother is the Daughter of the mother. On the other side of the pole, opposite the wolf image, is a full body Bear image.
Below the bear, and in front of the kneeling mother is a Mexican Child in a Cage. Located around the mother image are Peyote Buttons. The gouging marks around the mother, child, and caged infant represents the Falling Rains. Between the Child and the Mother are Seven Tears of Trauma. One of the tears is acting as the child’s rattle- symbolically of her generational trauma. Finally, at the bottom of the pole there is the Flowing River Waters.
Not visible: The Red Hands for MMIW (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women) that surrounds the moon.
Some of the lands visited during this healing journey to raise awareness on sacred sites threatened by oil, gas, mining, and other infrastructure projects.
Caged Child Protect Bears Ears; Art by Michael Haswood (Diné)
Source: All from Red Road to D.C. website unless indicated otherwise. www.redroadtodc.org
Water is Life; Art by Danielle SeeWalker (Hunkapapa & Citizen of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
Protect Greater Chaco; Artwork by Darby RaymondOverstreet (Diné)
STOP LINE 3 Brief Intro and Exerpt from the Testimony to Congress
Given By Tara Houska to Stop Oil Pipeline Construction As thousands join the fight to stop Line 3 in Minnesota, Tribes, organizations and community members are rising up to demand the Biden administration take action and stop the construction of the pipeline. Tara Houska, an attorney and Indigenous rights advocate, is the founder of the Giniw Collective, an Indigenous-led resistance against another cross-border tar-sands pipeline—Line 3. Construction has already begun on this 340-mile-long Enbridge pipeline, which would carry nearly a million gallons a day of tar-sands crude across northern Minnesota—crossing 200 water bodies—en route from Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin. Environmental organizations have joined Native groups, including the nonprofit, Honor the Earth, the Red Lake Band of Chippewa, and White Earth Band of Ojibwe in raising legal challenges and joining on-the-ground resistance efforts. Tara Houska Testifying before Congress EARTHDAY 2021: Native people have never lost our connection to the land and to the water. Many of us live in community with our mother as a practice not in theory. We’re the last holders of Sacred places all over Mother Earth despite this our voices are almost entirely absent from the table of solving the Climate crisis. Enbridge’s Line 3 is one of the dirtiest fossil fuel pipelines; it will be one of the largest tar sands pipelines in the world. Carrying up to 915,000 barrels a day through our sacred wild rice beds, through our territory, to the shore of Lake Superior through the Mississippi headwaters. First Nation Tribal communities, environmental groups communities across the Great Lakes region have been fighting over seven years to stop this corridor and to stop Line 3. The people are fighting on the ground, literally chaining themselves to the machine. Over 250 people have been arrested at this point since December, arrested during the middle of the pandemic, climbing into pipelines and frozen tar sands lines, literally trying to fight for their lives and for their futures. A really common perception of Native people is that we’re people of the
Art by @nsrgnts
past that we are this static footnote in history. But we were here before the arrival of the US and Canada and we are still here today. There is this long dispossesion, and genocide and removal, and then there’s nothing after that. People seem to think that we didn’t keep progressing after the 1800’s.We have to protect communities that are at risk like my own, we are the people who are often most impacted by the climate crisis, yet we are the people who often contribute the least to the climate crisis. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez: Let’s also talk about the justice component, we introduced the Green New Deal earlier this week and one of the topics that I have brought up is how the intersection of justice and trampling of Native rights and environmental racism actually contributes and is a key element of fossil fuel infrastructure and climate change. Ms. Tara Houska, we see the Dakota access pipeline and we’ve seen what’s happening with line 3 and it seems as though there is this pattern of fossil fuel Industries intersecting with native land and treaty land, is that a coincidence? Tara: The reality is we are the places that are out of sight and out of mind.We are the last places holding the sacred, like I mentioned in my testimony.When they want to put through a pipeline or a mine or some other extractive economy, they don’t put that in a rich suburb it goes through ours, from beginning to end, we are the people that are desperately experiencing the impacts of not just the climate crises but of the actual building of infrastructure, we are the sacrifice zones. AOC: In the case of the Dakota Access pipeline, it was originally supposed to be constructed through a wealthier and whiter neighborhood and that neighborhood organized and said not in our backyard and said put it over there. Would you say that’s what helped contribute to a political environment where it would be easier to look away from? Tara: Although they’re trying their hardest to look away and to not look upon our faces, the faces of the original peoples of this land.We are pushing back. Every single action pipeline infrastructure project proposed has Indigenous resistance to it, that’s the reality of the situation.We cannot just pick up and leave, these are our homes.
Tara Houska, July 29, 2021: I got shot by a line of law enforcement guarding a tar sands pipeline with rubber bullets, pepper rounds, and mace paid for by Enbridge.” Some of the unarmed land defenders I was with were hurt far worse. 20 of us got sent to Pennington County, where we were denied medical care, basic dietary needs, put in isolation, and held on full lockdown for four days. This is the true face of greed—our humanity, our lives do not matter. It hurts me inside to see the photos and videos of what happened to us, to see my own bruised skin, to know the reality that most of the time, people really don’t notice or care until we’re being violently assaulted or killed. We stand for the water, for the land, for the rice, for the future. Join our fight, we need your help. @giniwcollective This is climate legacy. Climate is a human rights issue, present and future. #Stopline3
END THE DESTRUCTION OF THE AMAZON NOW
By Xiomara Chingate, Muysca, Columbia Since the beginning of his rise to the Presidency of Brazil in January, 2019, Jair Bolsonaro, has been committed to destroying both the Amazon and eradicating Indigenous peoples and their rights. On his first day in office he defunded and closed down FUNAI (this was a coordination of people tasked with protecting Indigenous people’s rights, health care and communications with the government.) The Amazon has been on fire the last few years due to encouraged intentional burns destroying thousands of acres of irreplaceable Amazon and wildlife as well as displacing Amazonian people from their ancestral lands. Bolsonaro has vowed to open reserves up for wildcat miners (violent, untested and unscientific mining) and not give ‘’one centimeter’’ of the land to Indigenous people. The last few months, large groups of Indigenous people from across Brazil have been camping in Brasilia to protest a series of anti-Indigenous bills and proposals being voted on that if they pass will open their lands to agricultural lands grabs (big Ag was a large support base that got Bolsonaro elected to the presidency) deforestation, mining and revoke access and legal rights of the people to their lands. On September 1, 2021 the Supreme Court will be voting on a case referred to as Marco Temporal, or the Time Limit Trick. It specifically involves the Xokleng people and will set a precedent for all land demarcation in Brazil for the future. The Xokleng were forced off their ancestral territory through land grabbing and development and infrastructure projects, including a massive dam. This would legitimize illegal squatters camped on Indigenous territory. And states whose people did not inhabit their territory prior to 1988 (when the Brazilian Constitution was ratified) or have any court cases open about land rights at the time, would no longer have legal holding or rights to their territories. This doesn’t account for violent expulsion, forced relocations and the history of abuse that Indigenous people have faced by the colonization of Brazil. This also doesn’t account for uncontacted tribes who will also be impacted by this case. More than 7,000 Indigenous warriors began arriving the week before
Art by @xiomarajaguara
September 25, when the case was due to be voted on (after postponing it from July 30). The Supreme Court postponed the vote again to September 1 and the people have settled in for the haul. This is the largest Indigenous mobilization in Brazil since 1988. In 2019 I started a group called Brasil Solidarity Network with a few friends and I have been organizing to amplify the voices of communities mobilizing in the Amazon for the last few years and particularly in solidarity with our relatives in Brazil.
Indigenous Brazilians sing outside the Supreme Court in Brasília, Brazil as they await an important court ruling. In September, 2021, the courts suspended a land rights case that Indigenous people say is vital for survival. State government applied an overly narrow interpretation of Indigenous rights by only recognizing tribal lands occupied by Indigenous peoples at the time the constitution was ratified in 1988 (top photo below). Photo by Andrew Fishman
Art by Sebastián Hernández @brownskinhazel
In Quito, Ecuador hundreds of Indigenous people gather in protest of the government’s economic measures as a ceremony is being lead by medicine people; Oct. 1, 2019 (bottom photo). Photo by Paolo Aguilar/EPA
I speak a lot about the Eagle Condor prophecy in my work because I believe it is part of why my story is what it is. Being cross culturally and cross racially adopted from Colombia and raised in a white family, I have asked so many times, why I would be pulled from my homeland to live here, separated from my culture. The only answer I have found is to help be part of the bridge. If we truly expect
our world to rebalance itself, the North and the South, then there needs to be true solidarity. Not solidarity with conditions or rules. Not solidarity for photo opportunities or tokenizing one another, but solidarity that recognizes and reminds us that we are relatives. If my sister called me for help to save her land
and her people I would do everything in my power to help her and gather our family to be strong together. This is what the prophecy calls for. We have to be ready to stand together in all the battles to defeat the poison and toxicity of colonization and destruction of our Hicha Waïa, Mother Earth, all in the name of “progress”. The South gets lost a lot in translation both literally and through NGOs who can pick the parts of our traditional ways and culture that appeals to them, and shift the narrative to be through the western lens and I, personally, strive to amplify the voices unfiltered rising up from my people in the South. The voices of those translated to share their struggles, stories and requests for help and alliance. May we all be inspired by the tireless resistance of the “Brazilian” Amazon’s Indigenous people, who protect not only their rights and lives but the rights and life of the Amazon and the future of humanity as well. 3
By Elizabeth Rivera Oakflat is a sacred site known to the Apache People as Chichi’il Bidagoteel. The site is where they perform ceremonies, gather food, medicinal plants, and bury their dead before they were displaced by the US government. Chichi’il Bidagoteel had been under protection from mining and land desecration since it was included as part of Tonto National Forest in 1905. Its protection was sustained under President Eisenhower, who placed the site on protection in 1955, when he signed a land order. However, in 2014 Arizona Senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake passed Resolution Copper, opening up the sacred site to be mined by Rio Tinto and BHP , who own the largest copper mine in US history. The proposed plan would dig 7,000 feet below the ground, creating a sinkhole as deep as the Eiffel Tower, just 60 miles east of Phoenix, AZ. This proposal is cultural genocide to the Apache people and will cause harmful environmental impact to the entire area and beyond. The Apache people and allies from around the world, have returned to the area to protect their sacred homelands. In October 2021, Apache people led a week-long trek to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco, CA. This has been part of the ongoing process to preserve the sacred site. “This court hearing is important not only for Oak Flat, but for all Indigenous people and (not just) our Indigenous religions, but we feel that if they can put our religion on trial, no one else’s religion is safe,” said Vanessa Nosie, a member of Apache Stronghold. Nosie’s father, Wendsler Nosie Sr., founded Apache Stronghold nonprofit group, which was established in response to save Oak Flat and defend holy sites. The Spiritual Convoy to garner support was underway in San Francisco. On October 22, 2021, Natives from Oak Flat and allies came together at San Francisco’s Civic Center to listen to the court debrief-
Art by Ernesto Yerena, @ernestoyerena
ing and hold collective prayer. The listening session was filled with anticipation. I could feel the energy in the air of the crowd awaiting the hearing. Seeing the children, families, elders, and community members at the hearing provided a full perspective of the magnitude of what’s at stake. “Because it’s not just Apache Stronghold and Western Apaches and their practices that are at issue today,”
“A report released recently found that construction of the Resolution Copper Mine would take hundreds of billions of gallons of groundwater while Arizona faces unprecedented surface water supply reductions. That is at least enough water to supply a city of 140,000 people water every year for 40 years.” — James Wells (Source: Indian Country Today)
Apache Stronghold Attorney Lucke Goodrich said. “The government’s position threatens all people of faith.” “We’re talking about the survival of Apache’s as a people,” said Goodrich. “And the ceremonies that they pass on, from generation to generation at Oak Flat, is a key aspect of what keeps them in existence as a people.” Oak Flat needs support from all corners of the world. Attending the court hearing reminded me why the call to action to Save Oak Flat is not just an Apache issue, but one that will affect all communities worldwide. Listening to the court hearing reminded me so heavily of my visits to the Dominican Republic and the Philippines, where forgien mining companies and investors have unjustly stolen land from the native people in the name of profit and capitalism. My blood boils, hearing how companies can so easily disregard the impact they leave on our
world and its people. For example, Mindanao, Philippines is home to the most dense population of Indigenous people in the country, and their ancestral land sits on some one the most mineral-rich, copper and gold sites in the world. For centuries they have fought to remain on the land, but have faced displacement and militarization at the hands of corporate investors and corrupt political leaders. However with international support, Indigenous leaders from Mindanao were able to decrease military spending in the Philippines, ultimately protecting indigenous lives. The hearing for Oak Flat reminded me of the importance of gathering support from all nations to take down these corporations. We need to continue to put pressure on our government to honor the ancestral lands of the Apache people. Attorney Goodrich predicted that the court hearing verdict will be ruled sometime next year. I was moved by and could feel in my body that I wanted to visit this sacred site. A few weeks after the court hearing, it so happened that I’d had a family event in Arizona, the first time I’d visited the state in 10 years. I knew that being in the area, I wanted to visit OakFlat. On my last day in Arizona, I found myself driving through valleys of ancient rocks, canyons, leading up to the flat mountain range. Driving through the desert, I witnessed one of the most breathtaking views coming through the Tonto National Forest. While in the desert, I had felt and seen so much abundance of life in OakFlat, from the native plants, to the birds and other animals. I felt the ancient wisdom of the space and knew this was a space that needs to be protected. Off in the distance, perched on a mountain, I could see the mining company already in operation, without permission from the tribe. I hadn’t realized the mining company already has operations active in Oak Flat, and the court hearing was deliberating to halt expansion. We must continue to elevate this fight for ancestral land, tradition, and the right for the people to return home. We must continue to protect the sacred. 3
Running as medicine to promote healing By SNAG Staff Promoting Unity, Healing, and Resistance to the destruction of their homelands in Bears Ears. Youth took action to run a distance of 360 miles, across the state of Utah, in honor of Mother Earth. Running through land that is sacred to several tribes in the region, Dine, Ute, Paiute, and Shoshone. Starting at Bears Ears National Monument and ending at Warm Springs Park in Salt Lake City. The second annual Running as Medicine Indigenous Youth Prayer Run took place May 18th through the 22nd in 2021. The intention of this year’s run was to promote global healing—addressing stress caused by the pandemic as well as strengthening the relationships between the Indigenous communities and residents of Utah.
“Running is an integral part of who we are as Indigenous People,” Participants in the Prayer Run were from around the country, ranging from North and South Dakota to Michigan, Ohio and Arizona. Not only were there Navajo runners but there were also individuals from the Lakota and Yurok tribes. “Running is an integral part of who we are as Indigenous People,” says Jacob Crane, Dine, one of the run organizers. “One of my biggest goals in life is to encourage my younger siblings to follow the corn pollen road of life, to follow our traditions, to follow our teachings, to re-learn our language. If we stop practicing our traditions then who are we as Indigenous people? We will forget our connection with the land.” said Wilson Atene, one of the Youth Prayer runners. 3 Learn more here: @rezkidsrun
When Salmon Thrive, We Thrive By Sheridan Noelani Enomoto There are Salmon in Dry Creek. “What many don’t understand is that here, California is a salmon state, and what happens to the salmon happens to us,” said Chief Caleen Sisk, spiritual leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe. As I dive into the insane, ignorant political world of California’s destructive water infrastructure, salmon are currently swimming upstream in a creek that has been held in prayer for their return home. They seem to be finding a way back to their native watershed. It appears the salmon, who are almost nearing extinction because of manmade causes, are listening to this prayer. I learned a lesson from running along the Trinity or the Čhiti River this past July, bringing awareness to California’s runs of salmon and our choked and mismanaged watersheds. Not every salmon will make it to the end of their journey, but there is always a belief among the runs of salmon that one of them will arrive, that one of them will make it. So as prayer runners, we keep running, just as salmon keep on running or swimming. This to me is what faith is, a belief beyond our egos, ourselves or our self-righteousness. A bigger humble truth that includes all of us and requires an encouragement for and in each other. We may not all get to see the finish line but one of us will, for the benefit of all. The Run4Salmon, a prayerful journey led by Chief Caleen Sisk of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe to restore our salmon runs, protect our waters, and our indigenous life-ways, continues to teach me each year since its inception in 2016, how to believe in the medicine of good things coming, in the good things that exist within each other despite the challenges, the infinite possibilities of Spirit and how to continue to have hope with and beyond my generation. “The old ways are the good ways because they are true.” I heard this message one day whispered to me in the wind by the Winnemem Wayaket or the Middle Water River (McCloud River). There is nothing really new under the Sun. We just need to remember, to align, to show up for our waters and our salmon, and to keep listening. There are Salmon in Dry Creek and they continue to teach us and show us the way once again. 3 Art by Jesi Naomi, Chimariko, Wintu & Beatriz Oregel, Zapotec
A Cultural Dance Studio Promises To Keep Alive The Traditions Of Its Community Our Interview with Native Entrepreneur, Sage Andrew Romero SNAG: Please Introduce yourself?
What inspires this diversity of creative arts for you?
Sage Romero: My name is Sage Andrew Romero, I’m of the Tovowahamatu Numu (Big Pine Paiute) and the Tuah-Tahi (Taos Pueblo) people based here in Tovowahamatu, that’s Big Pine, CA in Payahuunadu (Owens Valley CA). My mother, Margaret Romero, is of the Tovowahamatu people, the Numu and my father, Andrew Romero, is of the Tuah-Tahi people, people of the Red Willow Taos Pueblo.
My parents encouraged me to be a hard worker. My father connected me to the deep tradition of my Pueblo side, the Hoop dancing side. My mother showed me, by example, to respect others and to be of service to one’s community. She also taught me the importance of revitalization of the Paiute culture; the songs and dances from a time when it was the anchor in their culture.
You wear many hats; you’re a traditional hoop dancer, entrepreneur, bread maker, photographer, visual artist, and animator, to name only a few of what you bring to your life and community.
I knew from a young age that I wanted to be on the path of Hoop Dancing; it was my vision. I just keep focusing on my goals and follow the best that I can on what I’ve been taught by my parents. Coming from a rural community, we don’t have access to much and so there are not as many distractions as there are in urban settings. So a lot of my upbringing was rooted in tradition and taking part in sacred ceremonies.
AkaMya Culture Group is now an official 501(c)3 Non-Profit Organization! Please consider donating to help with their new dance floor installation: @AkaMyaCulturalDanceGroup “So much potential awaits; fundraising, donations, partnerships, grants and more! Thank you all for your support through the years and we are looking forward to serving our Tribe, Community and more! Manahübü, pesha eü, ta-ah! Aho!” — Sage Romero
SNAG: Sage says that he was born with a creative spirit and this is true for his whole family. With his strong connection to culture and traditional practices, it has carried him to keeping his people’s sacred traditions and culture alive. His mother’s focus was work in the community and Sage attributes his work ethics to her. Tell us about growing up inter-tribal, what does it mean to you and how does it influence your work? With my upbringing and seeing the various ways that people live, I’ve seen the ultra-strong tradition of my father’s side. Traditions in ceremonies where they speak only the traditional language and they don’t allow non-natives in the village during these ceremonies. Only tribal people and families are allowed and really sacred ceremonies are practiced during that time. So it taught me the importance of keeping that spirituality protected. My mother and grandmother, Paiute women, taught me that our way is humble and very simple and not elaborate rituals but strong and powerful with much gratitude for all that we have. And of course seeing the people too, how they live over there and live day to day and helping each other in ceremony. On my mother’s side, the people are trying to bring back the traditions that were lost and really make good efforts
to keep culture alive and revitalize the practice. I also see people who are not connected because of the loss of culture. A lot of them were stuck in substance abuse or didn’t realize why their people were really heavily Christian. They just totally gave into those beliefs to the point of insulting us for our Native ways calling us devils and stuff like that. So seeing that from my own people on one side but then my other side with strong tradition brought into my range of understanding of where people might be coming from. It has given me some tolerance to be able to understand why someone might be coming from the conditioning they grow up in or why they wouldn’t be connected or know basic things you expect a Native to know. So I have a good understanding of that so I’m able to be compassionate and help people reconnect when they are ready to take that step. Being kind to people like my grandmother and mother showed me and to take care of each other because you never know what people are going through. What inspired you to create your own dance studio and how has dance been your vehicle for healing? All the work I do, learning culture has helped me develop my Native dance company, which we are developing as a non-profit. The new space, Margaret Romero Cultural Dance Studio is named after my late
mother. She is one of my main inspirations for who I am. I can continue carrying on her legacy of cultural revitalization and have the space for the community. AkaMya, founded in 1998, is the group that operates all of this work. As a rural community we don’t have access to facilities like studios and community spaces. So it was important to get to this point. We have a place to keep our youth strong, healthy and safe and to pass along our culture in a positive way with wellness and strengthening practices as well. I use the dance for healing. It’s believed to be the medicine working within those who are watching the dance. That is what I was taught and even as a young child I could see this and that is what inspired me to learn to dance. My dad said I needed to earn the right to do this first. You have to prove yourself and be given the right by your family to learn it before you can even dance. I was 20 when I was given the right to start carrying the dance from my father’s side. I was traveling internationally when I graduated from High School and I didn’t grow up in Taos, so it took some time to get the right to dance. You’re shown the technique and a basic routine, one time and you’re given 4 days to practice, then you dance in front of your family for their blessing. After that, I started to carry this
dance and share it with people all over the world. It’s been a long journey but I have always known that this would be my path. Sobriety is a big deal to me, because growing up in the 80’s 90’s we did see a huge loss of life from elders and young adults from substance abuse. People had to partake in self medicating with alcohol or drugs to cope with their pain and loss. I saw this first hand, losing family members, not only to substance abuse, but to suicide as well. This is what started me on my sobriety while I was in High School. I didn’t want to take that path. That choice isolated me from the other young people. It just made me work harder. My parents would tell me that you have to show people that there are other ways to live. Also, drugs and alcohol will affect the spirit of others negativly. That is why you have to keep your own spirit strong and pure when you’re dancing. I use the dance to make myself strong, physically and spiritually. Even through the quarantine, up to now, I was consistently dancing and practicing. I was out of work during the pandemic, so I wasn’t doing the cultural presentations and dances for income any more. After we lost my mom earlier this year, and we almost lost my dad, we stopped dancing until ceremonies were complete. This was a hard time, but at the same time that’s when I focused all of my en-
ergy toward the studio construction. So this studio project carried me through the time of the pandemic and the loss of my elder mother when my dancing had to pause. I’m taking a break from the powwow this year because of my mom’s passing. I do classes for the powwows, but I have a year break during this mourning period. The Taos people say that once the burial and mourning ceremonies are done you continue on with your life. You keep that medicine going and keep sharing the hoop dances. Describe the studio and any plans in the future? The studio is a creative and safe space for our cultural dances, practices and more. I have dance groups going on as well as singing groups. I do want to incorporate wellness training with people coming to do workshops. I have a recording booth and multimedia station for animations and
video, as well as music recordings, flute playing, oral histories, elder stories, traditional stories, language projects and I can even record audio for animation films I am working on. I hope it will be a way to subsidize and cover the costs as well. It is important to me to support media produced by Native people, for Native people. We have our own stories we need to share in our own way. There’s also a weight room for training the young people to be more effective dancers. Not only to be strong and buffed, but learn how to properly take care of their bodies so we are not hurting them, like sore backs and blown out knees. SNAG: Sage says that the entire property the studio sits on has been part of the long term vision for him. The other spaces include outdoor opening with a gazebo for outdoor dance presentations. The roof of the studio is flat and he envisions this being another stage platform, equipped with stairs. There is also a picturesque view of the mountains. The outdoor yard also has a sand dance pit, which he says is great for leg strengthening. There’s a traditional oven from his Pueblo side for baking bread, which he does for extra income to cover the costs of the space. Once he moves into the house his grandmother left for him, which is next door, the current house can host gatherings, fundraisers and regalia making for the dancers as well as a shop for the dancers to sell their handcrafted goods. He also wants to install a raised wood floor, which is better on the knees of the dancers.
What would you like to say to the young people during these challenging times?
Top from left to right: Outdoor gazebo, Sage and his father, Andrew Romero, in the ribbon cutting ceremony for the opening of the studio; young ribbon dancers, and just above, the decked-out sound and visual arts studio.
“AkaMya Culture Group is a resource to our community, providing space for wellness, creative outlets, expression and the Arts. This multimedia station has already provided families with assistance in preparing videos, slideshows, and most recently virtual animation youth workshops in collaboration. The sound booth is ready for recording song, oral history, stories, interviews, podcasts and more. The weight room now has media access to broadcast training videos, music, and exercise tutorials. Our main room is also available for video/class/ movie projection with a 20’x10’ screen. We are here and ready to collaborate at the Margaret L. Romero Cultural Studio. Peshe eu!”
The elders say that these are sacred times. There are people who need to take this time to be quiet and learn about themselves. Taking time for yourself can be a powerful experience. Also I would say to not feel the pressure to have to accomplish things. Don’t let that be a burden on you. Taking the time to develop yourself in this way is your own journey. Also, don’t be hard on yourself. If you need to talk, find someone you can trust with your feelings, someone who will just listen without judgement and hold space for you with trust. Always be true to yourself and find what it is that drives you and follow that path and don’t let anyone tell you that’s not the way you should go. Everybody has their own path to follow, which as a young person, remembering this was what helped me get through the tough times. My elders also say, as hard as this time is, as great as the pain and the loss is, it’s not just you going through this, it’s many others who are going through loss right now, so we just need to think of them with compassion.3
Sage’s painting of his beloved , late mother, Margaret Lucille Romero, who transitioned early 2021 at the age of 73 in Big Pine, CA. RIP.
Contact: email@example.com I 760-937-1910
HEALING ART EXHIBIT
Title: Kule Kuulute (Bear Hug) Artist: Michelle Napoli Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria; Coast Miwok and Southern Pomo ancestral homeland “During the pandemic I have not been able to hug those during times of loss, grief, and loneliness. I painted this kule/ bear as an ‘ewis/basket that is holding our heart (‘awwuk/ abalone) and offering a kule kuulute/bear hug to send love and comfort to our community.”
art that heals
Title: Hands of Healing Artist: Chris Granillo Tepehuan Durango, Mexico chrisgranilloart.com @ChrisGranilloArt “This piece was inspired by healing community during the peak of the pandemic. “
Our Call to the Community for Healing Art Submissions
We asked you, how has art been your vehicle for healing during the pandemic? Please enjoy these beautiful and powerful art works along with reflections received from these artists about their journey during these challenging times. Thank you to all who submitted works for our Rise and Thrive / Self-Love and Healing issue. We are grateful for your artwork and wish you continued success on your path toward healing. SNAG Team Art by Chris Granillo
Title: Pomo Basketweaver Artist: Kenneth Keys FB group: Sherwood Valley Band of Indians “I did this in honor of my great grandmother who lived to be over a hundred. She was a wonderful basket weaver of the old ways. I miss her.”
“la cultura cura!” 22
Title: Juchari Uinapekua Artist: Catalina Aviña Michoacán, Mexico; Purepecha @gata_lata “The title refers to the tribal ‘moto’ and is written on our flag. I wanted to create a piece that would highlight the beauty and resilience of our culture and people. I use the colors of the flag as the backdrop and highlighted traditional designs found in the region along the border. The faces you see are the radiant images of our brothers and sisters. La cultura cura!”
“i am working my way back to my dancers heart” Title: Dancer’s Heart Artist: Jacqueline Graumann Redwood Valley, CA (Northern Pomo) @jacquelineg212 “I have been a traditional Pomo dancer since I could walk and when my auntie died I lost my spirit for dance. I am working my way back to my dancer’s heart and this piece is part of the process.”
“healing is feeling connected to my lineage”
Title: Blessings Artist: Gabriel Patten (he/him) San Carlos, Arizona Apache @wherethelandmeetstheskystudios “Art is my attempt to create happiness and inspiration to all our relations during this rough time, I create protecters to watch over us and bring many blessings.”
Title: Noso-n - In breath so it is in Spirit Artist: Kanyon Sayers-Roods (Hahashkani-Coyote Woman) Ohlone Mutsun and Chumash Native American soundcloud.com/kanyoncoyote/ earth-song-mutsun-language Mutsun Pire Saawe (Mutsun Earth Song) pire kan-ama, sii kan-patYtYan, hiTTew kan-nossow, sottow kan-nossow Earth My Body, Water My Blood Air My Breath, Fire My Spirit Tierra Mi cuerpo, Agua Mi Sangre, Aire Mi Aliento, Fuego Mi Espíritu
Title: Embrace Artist: Mariana Ixchel Moscoso (they/them) Iximulew/Achi Mayan “The serpents of my fallopian tubes embrace the ovum that existed before I was me. And they were embraced by my mother before she knew she was herself. Mami embraced inside my grandmother’s uterus. Lineage is the deepest embrace I have ever felt. Healing is feeling connected to my lineage.” www.ritualofmythmaking.com @ritualofmythmaking @aq_ab_al
Title: La wiphala Artist: Miguel Muteado Siliencio (he/him) P’urepecha in the State of Michoacan, MX @muteado_silencio, @muteado (fb) “This Art represents what I already hold in my veins. Thanks to Chintontequisa, MItoteliztli, y Danza Azteca, I’m able to remember and reconnect with my roots. This La wiphala represents the flag from the Indigenous lands of South Turtle Island (Latin America), which signifies the unification of many Indigenous tribes of that land. I created these as shields, a Chimalli, to honor the original meaning. The shield represents a defense weapon used by my ancestors. It also is a symbol of recognition and measure of merit. They represent various deities and meanings that have been impactful for my own remembrance and healing. ”
“Today we remember our relatives that went to residential/ boarding scho ol. We pray for those that made it home and those that didn’t. We pray for the hearts of all still affected by the on going pain and for healing from the trauma that we still endure.” — Corina Gould
Sogorea Te’ Land Trust www.sogoreate-landtrust.org
Credit/Courtesy of Artist: Mer Young, “All Children Matter” meryoung.com, /youngmerart, @youngmer
“Ackno wledge that ‘w e’, non on stol -Nativ en lan e peop d and le, live how th connec a t acknow ts to th ledgme e recla nt mation as well o f N as to e ative fo ducate odway t s, he pub foodwa l i c on th ys.” ese Na tive
y: Tony Abey Mural art b
Crystal Wahpapeh and Her Native Food Ways We sat down with Crystal Wahpepah, a member of the Kickapoo Nation of Oklahoma and a Native chef and owner of her newly launched Native Indigenous restaurant in Fruitvale, CA. A neighborhood she knows well as she was born and raised here in Huichin Territory (Oakland), CA. 28
SNAG: What’s your earliest memory of healing through traditional foods? Crystal Wahpapeh: I’d say at the age of seven. It’s the first connection of literally harvesting berries. I lived in Hoopa, California when my aunt would tell me to go pick berries. I would go out to the woods by myself and harvest a bunch of berries and she would say, ‘okay, we’re going to make a pie.’ But at that time, I didn’t realize how much healing that was for me. I’m a firm believer that things come back to you. When I was going through hard times, those good memories would come back to me and are very healing to me. If you see any dishes that I have with the various indigenous berries it is because I find them deeply healing because they give me connection to my indigenous ingredients and in taste and in smell remind me of my aunt and my grandfather. How have your traditions guided you on your path and what has it healed in you?
What gives me hope is this restaurant. It says a lot of things–it says sovereignty, land back, healing, and community. I like to say, it doesn’t matter what you love to do, always find your passion and put your all into that. This will begin your healing path. You can be an artist, a gardener, or even like working on your cars; if you find happiness with what you’re doing in life you’ll find that joy. How do we move towards seven generations of thriving, healthfully? For all generations to move towards thriving, I would say we definitely need to be unified. It’s important for indigenous people to support and celebrate one another. I know firsthand about this because I was supported by my fellow indigenous community and it makes me want to work more and
You mentioned a variety of chefs working with you. Are they bringing their own food knowledge from their ancestral lands? Yes, they are. Definitely, they are. It’s about showing the community how we all work together and embrace one another. And I tell this to my chefs all the time, everybody has their own gifts and it’s about us coming together, and the menu that you see that’s created, it’s not my menu, it’s our menu because it’s our community and it’s our people. I have a catering menu, and things like that, but I tell the chefs that we all come from different backgrounds, but we’re on the same road, we’re all going to the same place. What I mean by that is that we all live here in the Bay Area, but we all have a destination, and that destination is health, wellness for our community. For people to see that our indigenous community is represented is a big piece of why I do this. It says, if we can do it, you can too.
“I just want this place to be a celebration of our foods and for healing. I want people to feel at home…”
Just from my traditional beliefs, even my spirituality, and exposure to many other tribes being in the Bay Area, it’s guided me and healed me through food. Everybody has their healing ways, whether from nature or something else; mine is cooking food. You never know who you’re cooking for and it’s not like I can speak to everyone I’m cooking food for. So, when I prepare food I do so from my heart to my hands. It’s not just healing for me, it’s healing also for the community in how we acknowledge our foodways. What gives you hope and what would you like to share with young people about following their own dreams?
harder. I definitely couldn’t have done this alone. You have to have your community support. Is there anything else you’d like to add that’s relevant to this time of healing that you feel is important to share now? Definitely, that would be, Land Acknowledging. I think it’s very important to where our food comes from. When people see me making different foods, I guess you can say that I stay in my own lane. What shaped me, what formed me into who I am as an indigenous chef. It’s definitely important to know whose land I get to be welcomed on to cook.
Look at the area I’m in, I love it. We have a farmers market right here. We have a high school that they’re letting out for break really soon. They’re all indigenous and I want them to see this business and get inspired. Because when I was growing up, I didn’t get to see that. I never got to see it be so embraced as it is now. This is our time. That’s the same thing I want when people sit down and eat here. We have videos of farmers, of indigenous chefs to show others what positivity is going on with other native communities. We have flyers, advertisements, and I want people to sit here in the restaurant and see this. You know, we don’t have that in our communities, and if we do, it’s very limited. You go into other
multi-cultural restaurants and they embrace their culture, their heritage, and foods and so we can show Native people that we can do the same. What’s been your most valuable lesson in opening your own Native restaurant? I’ve got a whole bunch of lessons! How to survive as a business owner, especially as a Native woman getting out there and serve our foods. Knowing that people, even our own people are not aware of our foods and where they come from and why our foods are lost and why it’s important. Like wow, a lot of historical trauma and colonization took place where we literally lost our own connection to our ancestral foods. The lesson out of that was being a business owner and coming out and showing our foods respectfully the way they should be. And I have to be very, very careful in how I present these Native foods because it’s not just profit, but for the respect and the acknowledgment of future generations. All of this, I do because I love it. It is something I hold dear to my heart. I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. When people would ask me, ‘When are you going to have a restaurant?’, I would say, ‘at the right time and right place’. This is definitely the right place for one, we’re in a Native and Indigenous community here in Fruitvale. It is the right time to have a voice and be heard. I had an opportunity to do this two or three years ago and I don’t think it would have gone very well. To open up a Native and Indigenous
restaurant you have to be ready mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. It’s a lot coming at you. For one, being a woman and then a Native woman, as well as the financial challenges. My strong suit is cooking and catering. Now I’m doing something different with a restaurant. Wapepah’s Kitchen is not just Wapepah’s Kitchen because of me, it’s Wapepah’s’ Kitchens because of the support of my community. You have to have your community, that respect and knowledge, especially with whose land you’re on. We acknowledge each and every ingredient as you can see. We actually ran out of a little bit of corn for our soft launch a few weeks ago, the corn delivery never came. The beautiful thing was that we actually got some off our Native Foods display shelf as well as some elderberries to use in our cooking for our event. We believe that this is what an indigenous food pantry should look like. If you come to my home this is what you’ll see, and believe me, I’ve got a lot more than what’s displayed here. When you’re eating, I want you to see what’s in your food (raw ingredients). That’s why we have the names and labels on these jars of Native Foods. We’re also working on bringing the language of these foods back; language acknowledgement, the tribal language is very important. As for our menu, we’re going for the Kickapoo language.
My grandmother and grandfather (are) fluent speakers as well as my mom. I have family members teaching me because I’m not in Oklahoma and we have fluent speakers in our tribe, the Kickapoo. I’ve
been learning here and there as much as I can but trying to embrace this in my life more and more. I want this place to be a celebration of our foods and for healing. I want people to feel at home and for my Pomo children to learn from their grandfather as he is a language keeper. 3
The Story of Native Foods as Told by the Murals at Wahpepah’s Kitchen “The vibrant foods that have migrated up and down this continent are reclaiming our palates. Our tastebuds are being decolonized with traditional, healthier alternatives for this and forthcoming generations. Here (left) is a fragment of a larger story being told through Native Cuisine and this mural reconnects a fragmented continent. Borders, divisions and limitations are for limited minds. Let’s be free.”— About the Five Figures and Oak Tree Mural on the North Wall of the Restaurant by Leah Povi Lewis and Votan Ik 1) an Aymara man, native to Bolivia and Peru, holds a plate of potatoes, originally cultivated within those two countries. 2) a Maya woman brings corn from its place of origin, ancient Mexico and Central America. 3) a Kickapoo woman holds squash, which is common in North American tribal gastronomy. 4) an Ohlone woman holds a bowl of acorns and berries, which are the staple foods of many tribes throughout California. 5) a Lakota man offers bison meat, which was hunted across the plains of North America and Canada,” says Leah. In the center stand the The Oak tree which symbolizes many important things: The Ohlone land, community, the root system, life force and the symbiotic relationship it has to all of life it is in community with. _________________________________________ February 2022–NSRGNTS Mural unveiling. Wahpepah’s Kitchen, 3301 E. 12th St., Ste. 33 Huichin (Oakland), CA
Photo (left): Wapepah’s Kitchen staff and Crystal Wapepah. Photo by Nanette Deetz MURAL ARTISTS: Votan Henriquez and Povi Marie with NSRGNTS, an art activist collective (page 31, bottom right, from left to right). @nsrgnts, www.nsrgnts.myshopify.com Tony Abeyta painted the majestic blue corn stalks reaching high up the counter pillar (far right, page 31). @alpha_beta_tone
Who We Remember Live On, In Us We offer our love and prayers for those lives lost to the pandemic the last two years and to all grieving relatives, our hearts are with you in mourning and in celebrating their lives in a good way.
Tara Evonne Trudell “Celebrate Them” Prayer Beads
Offering from Tara Trudell in rememberance of her family Written by Simon Ortiz Celebrate them. Celebrate them. Celebrate them with your work, your struggle, your songs, your love. Celebrate them in the way that warriors return back to the earth. Celebrate their return so that life may continue. Celebrate their return so that our struggle may be strengthened. Celebrate their return so that our People may have hope. Celebrate their return so that we may continue. In this way, as the People say, we will carry out our true responsibility in caring for the earth. In this way, as the People say, we will carry out our true responsibility in caring for our People. In this way, as the People say, we will carry out our true responsibility in protecting the land. In this way, as the People say, we will carry out our true responsibility in fighting for humanity. Sorrow, yes, as you will, but let your words voice courage. Sorrow, yes, as you will, but let your anger speak against injustice Sorrow, yes, as you will, but let your strength be enduring. Celebrate the women and children warriors. Celebrate the sister and brother warriors. Celebrate the mother and father warriors. Celebrate the grandmother and grandfather warriors. Celebrate them, and we shall have compassion and love. Celebrate them, and we shall continue to have courage. Celebrate them, and we shall never lose them from our life. Speak for them now—and the earth will endure. Speak for them now—and the children will be strong. Speak for them now—and the women will have courage. Speak for them now—and the People will rise.
@earthpeacemandala (fb), 2008
More about this poem and our “Call to Sacred Action” on the next pages.
Tara Evonne Trudell & Her Healing Beads Beads are said to have inspired the creation of human language, and have been Tara’s primary artistic medium to address healing. In this artistic practice, she recognized the vital transforming energy of creating prayer beads out of her words and artwork. She felt herself reconnecting with a deeper power in her own childhood trauma. This poem, Celebrate Them, by Simon Ortiz, was written for the Trudell family after the tragic fire in 1979 and was shared at the memorial. Tara takes these words that have guided her in her own strength and healing. Hand-typed on a vintage typewriter, rolled into beads, then woven back together to create one long strand of the whole poem. Bead for bead, prayer for prayer, her intention is to send this out in As an artist, Tara Trudell, (Santee Sioux/Rarámuri/Mexsolidarity and in love to the larger community so that they may ican/Spanish) weaves poetry, photography, film, and audio components into her work in order to express cre- embrace their own grief and loss to begin the healing process. ative visions that address social issues. She is on a lifelong “Beads are known to predate human history to the time of the Neaderthals and have journey in the reclamation of her identity and in doing globally been used as a tool for prayer and spiritual practices. The word bead itself comes so it is vital in her role as an artist that she represent and from the Anglo-Saxon word bidden which means to pray, and the Middle English word advocate for earth and humanity in an effort to stimulate bede which means prayer. Early civilizations made beads out of natural materials found in action and a sense of belonging. their geographical location, making beads not only a symbol of religious beliefs or political www.seethewomen.squarespace.com/karmashistory, but also a blueprint of social circumstances, culture and place.” tarsisterheal (Source: The History of Beads, From 100,000 Years BC to the Present, by Lois Sherr Dubin)
coming together + make your own prayer beads: Tara and Veronica come together to offer prayers through their sacred art forms and call on you to make your own creations dedicated to those you honor, whether a Love, Community Member, Relative, or Friend. All 279 beads were sent by Tara from O’ga Po’geh (Santa Fe), NM to Veronica in Huichin (Oakland), CA. Both prayer beads and earth altar were infused with their prayers for the many lives lost to covid these past 2 years and special blessings for the grieving families. This offering of support and compassion answers the questions: “What are we doing to heal in a meaningful way? What is the world we make from this? How are we healing? & Are we healing well?” BEGIN HERE: Make a color copy of the template located on the inside back cover (a black and white copy will work too). Follow the guidance provided here: www.taraevonnetrudell.com. Also, check back for a possible Spring 2022 bead making workshop with Tara (TBA).
*Photos shared of your sacred action are welcomed!* Please, use these hashtags with your post: #sacredaction4healing, #prayerbeadpoweringup Grateful! 34
“How do we heal in a m
LOVEDO “What can birth from loss?”
“Are we grieving well?”
ACTION “What is the world we make from this?”
ONES “How are we healing?”
For Connection, Community, and Healing Beginning with a circle, we bring to life a creation of beauty, a unique act of love to remember, to honor, to give thanks, and to celebrate life. Veronica has lead earth altar creations for the past 20+ years. This art form calls on each of us to sacred action. We gather materials, offer our words in prayer to share, heal and witness the radical beauty that comes through. Participation is what makes this co-creation alive and potent. With heart, openness and imagination people are invited to bring materials or create using what is found nearby. The community is guided and encouraged to make designs and patterns within the circular template that is defined by rocks, pine cones, soil or other organic materials. All get immersed in a process by which cooperation and creativity unfold in Divine order. We each bring our essential selves into the circle and together, with presence, and with our hands guided by heart and Spirit, anything is possible. An elder once shared with me that sacralizing our spaces with sacred art is so very fundamental to our revolution. I deeply feel this to be true and believe it’s true for our evolution.
“Love &Truth in Motion”
“I give thanks to my ancestors and to Creator for the continued blessings to be able to hold acred space in this way with others.” Veronica Ramirez, Earth Ritual Artist Mapuche/Chilean-Mestizo ancestry
make earth altars: 1) Start with Intentions/prayers however that is for you. Who are you doing this for? Invite others to participate. 2) Gather elements into baskets or paper bags. These could be rocks, pine cones, seeds, flowers, herbs, shells, or anything that speaks to you. Ask for permission before removing something in nature; only take what you need. 3) Gather back at your home, park, yard or somewhere where you choose that’s outdoor. Lay out all of your elements into bowls, baskets or bags. 4) If you have some dried lavender, sage or cedar, light some up in a bowl to begin blessing all of the items, as well as the land, yourself and others. Thank all of the elements, yourself and Spirit for being present and joining you in this sacred work. 5) Select something special to represent the center. It could be a heart rock, crystal, or flower that calls to you. 6) Draw out a circle adding the 4 directions or simple design. You can use sand on soil or rocks, seeds, or flowers to do this. Find your creativity in the process. 7) Begin laying down the rest of your elements to fill out the design. Invite others to join you in it’s creation and in prayer until you feel complete; you will know when that moment arrives. 8) Thank all who showed up for this creation, including youra personal guides, ancestors, the elementals, the Creator, Love-Source-Energy.
*Photos shared of your sacred action are welcomed!* G yşe o: A Phot
@earth_altarscapes (nw ig), www.earthaltarscapes.love + more photos here: @earthpeacemandala (fb)
Please use these hashtags with your posts: #sacredaction4healing, #makearthaltars
Photo: Page 33, North cardinal direction feather staff (2009) by @darrenmillerphoto
By Robin Meeley SNAG: Please introduce yourself and speak to us about your community. Robin Meeley: Hello everyone my name is Robin Meely I come from the Coast Miwok, Kashaya Pomo and I’m also Dineh and Choctaw. I live in Santa Rosa with my three beautiful children and I moved back home about eleven years ago, and I have always worked in my Native American Community, helping teaching and especially learning this is something that’s really important for me to bring back and instill in our children because one day they’re going to be our teachers, so I think it’s really important that we keep our Traditions alive and keep learning ourselves as young adults and keep passing this down.
Tell us more about your journey with baskets and how you got involved with weaving?
For the young people who have not weaved before, how would you advise them to become weavers. I would say to our Indigenous kids, this is your culture–your heritage. It’s not just for women. but it’s for everyone. Watch for classes in your community. I hope to put one on myself. Just start today, come out here to nature and tend the land and you will have more of an understanding of why these plants are here for us. The elders that were weavers before us made sedge beds for you and me. When it’s my time to go, those sedge beds will be there waiting for the next generation and their children. But we need to start somewhere and even if you’re starting out with non-traditional materials, it’s really about getting started. Ultimately, with repetition, it’ll get easier overtime with practice. So when you begin using traditional materials, which are so much harder to work with, you’ll be ready.
“Just start today, come out here to nature and tend the land, you will have more of an understanding of why these plants were put here for us.”
I grew up in Yosemite Valley, but was born in San Jose. I was brought to Yosemite by my mother. My grandma worked for the park service and she couldn’t find a babysitter so she sent me to my Aunt Julia Parker. She was the one that actually taught me my first basket, which was made from Tule. I was about nine years old at the time and I didn’t have a full understanding of it until I got older. I had a yearning to learn about my culture and where I came. I grew up knowing this was not my territory but I do give them respect and a shout-out because they were the ones who taught me. I remember asking a woman some questions that she couldn’t answer so she said to me that I needed to go home to my people and learn from them directly. They would be my teachers. So I decided to pack all of my things and go home to Santa Rosa with my children. I began basket weaving more seriously at about eleven years ago. I made baskets with willow, bulrush and sedge. This just made me want to know, like, where did these plants/trees come from and when could I harvest them in order to process them on my own. It’s a whole different understanding of our environment and what it is to be Indigenous to this land when you are actually harvesting these plants. I under-
stand these plant relatives and what they are meant for. There was a time when I would walk right past those plants and not know what they were, but working the land with your hands in the dirt, getting stickers, poison oak, and coming across snakes, you get an understanding of what our ancestors had to go through. It isn’t an easy job but I do love it. We have to take care of the earth because she takes care of us. I began taking classes with Corrine Pearce in Lake County. I did that for a little while, but we weren’t working with traditional materials. We worked with cane and reed. That’s what I use with my own students because it’s more forgiving and flexible. Also I noticed that people were harvesting sedge with Silver Galletto (another weaver) and so after this, it just took off for me, I was hooked. I was inspired to gather for myself and searched out crops to tend to. That’s how I started, I’m still going and I encourage everyone to learn how to weave.
Also, my relatives who were teaching me said I had to talk to my baskets. When I first began speaking to them, I would say, please don’t break! Then I realized, I’m actually speaking that energy into the basket I was weaving. Shifting that energy instead to prayer with my heart and soul was very important for me. We use baskets for everything. A long time ago the first thing a child received was a cradle baskets. There are hunting baskets for the men and gathering baskets for the women. Just start somewhere and try to show up, keep learning, and ask questions. Background photo: Gommi’s winnowing basket, Dry Creek Pomo
How do we thrive generationally for this generation and the next 7, 10, 20 generations? When this pandemic first hit, they were saying that stores were going to close. My biggest fear was, how am I going to feed my children? What if they need medicine? This is what got me into herbal medicine much more instead of over-the-counter ones. We’ve had these medicines for so long. We just need to go out and find them and start to use them. Creator has put all of these things on the land for us to use. We just have to remember how to use them or ask questions. Sometimes we get our information from people who are non-native, and know that, that’s okay. For this generation I would say get active, ask questions, show up to your ceremonies, find an auntie or an uncle, someone that’s willing to teach you and just take in all that knowledge, as much as you can. Don’t stop learning. Each time you meet a teacher you’re going to learn something different. Never stop learning about the area where you live or where to find your plant medicines. Also learn the songs and ceremonies of the land you are in. Learning all you can and cherish it because you will be the next ones to pass this knowledge onto the next generation. If my grandmother didn’t teach me things that she knew, I wouldn’t know how to harvest acorn today. A lot of my sisters from my dance community have taught me to be the woman I am today. I call them my sisters even though we’re not from the same tribe, but are connected through these Indigenous ways. For young girls, try to find a sisterhood and for young men, find a brotherhood. It’s important to have community to be able to rely on one another when you need it. 3 Follow Robin’s basket journey @ladydinebird
Robin poses with her Cradle Basket made for her cousin. A Mendocino basket made from peeled willow and oak. Below that image is her family, from left to right: Great Aunt Julia Parker holding Baby Virginia, Madeline, Marylou, her dad Bill and Frank Domingues at Bill’s graduation from Stewart Boarding School. The basket below that photo is her first canoe basket made from bulrush and sedge. Photo: SNAG Staff + Robin Meeley
Traditional wild harvested plant based dyes are a part of every Indigneous culture. Plants, fungi, insects, etc., all over the world hold wide varieties of almost every color in the rainbow. Here in Califonia our most prolific life abundance comes from the sacred oak trees. There are over 600 species of oaks worldwide, 20 of which are Native to California. The original people of California tended oak trees for acorns since the beginning of time & we ate acorns for sustenance as a big part of our diet. Acorns and oak galls are also used as a source for coloring in basketry materials and used today as a natural dye source. Paired with iron or rust, oak galls yield a dark, almost black color, many varieties of gray and sometimes blues. Acorns yield an array of earth tones. Natural dyes and colors which come straight from the Earth are the only regenerative dyes that are safe to return back to the Earth. Harvesting & using these colors connects humans to the natural world, to our Indigenous roots and the endless beauty which plants and the living planet gifts us with. Photos of Tan Oak Acorns in basket Oak Gall & Iron Dyed Silk dress by @Native___One Model Alicia Ann Peterson Oak galls & iron infographic by @fibershed_
The Jingle Dress and Its Prophetic Healing Dance Dr. Brenda Child, Ojibwe, shares the history of the jingle dress with the Department of American Studies and American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota and in an opinion article in The New York Times: When Art Is Medicine (May 2020). Ojibwe people often tell a story about a little girl who was very near death. Her father had a dream, a vision, about a special dress and dance. He made
a healing reverberation. Women dance in patterns, not in a straight line to confuse the disease and lead it away from the inflicted. Healers in the early 20th century, men or women, were valued for their extensive knowledge of plants. Music and medicine coexist in a symbiotic partnership. Because song and dance heal us, art is as necessary as medicine in the worst of times. From our first contact with Europeans to the present, Indigenous people have careened from one public health crisis to another. Our healing process and our historical memory of these moments should not end with vaccinations. Traditions of song and dance help restore the balance that is drained by bodily sickness and deliver spiritual sustenance to those who have lost loved ones. Art, in other words, allows us to survive.
The Jingle Dress Today… The Jingle Dress Project began early 2020 by Eugene Tapahe from a dream he had of the jingle dress project bringing hope during this trying time of loss due to the pandemic. The dream inspired him to invite his daughers, Erin and Dion and their two friends, Sunni and JoAnni Begay to dance the jingle dress dance all across the U.S. in order to bring healing to the devastated Native American communities as well as bring awareness to major issues plagueing the Native American people, like, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW). The stunning photography captured by Eugene of the Jingle Dress Project can be seen on their social media outlets @jingledressproject
“Because song and dance heal us, art is as necessary as medicine in the worst of times.” the dress for his daughter and taught her the steps. The way folks in Mille Lacs, Minnesota tell the story, is that the father brought his sick daughter to a drum ceremony. As the evening progressed, with these songs the little girl got up and began dancing and by the end of the evening, she had fully recovered. Ojibwe people connect the jingle dress dance tradition to healing. She explains, It’s more than just the dress itself, it’s the style of dance and the songs as well. Ojibwe people believe in the healing power of music and the jingles. They believe spiritual power moves through air and sounds hold significance. The sound of the tinkling metal cones, named, “ziibaaska’iganan” of jingle dresses, is part of the healing. She further points out, when many women dance together in unison, the effect is amplified, becoming
The dance has become a symbol of Indigenous women’s empowerment. Jingle Dress dancers were at Standing Rock, and dancers in red dresses now call attention to the plague of missing and murdered Indigenous women. Countless Jingle Dress dancers have answered the call.
Jingle Dress Dancers protesting a pipeline project, at Standing Rock Reservation, in 2016. (Photos above: Eugene Tapahe, @tapahe)
Today, Ojibwe people number more than 200,000, across many small nations divided between the United States and Canada. We all remember in stories and dance a young girl who survived a global pandemic. Her survival gives us hope.3 Dr. Brenda Child is the author of “Holding Our World Together: Ojibwe Women and the Survival of Community”and teaches American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota.
A Jingle dress ceremony was organized by Indigenous people in Minneapolis in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement as a response to the brutally tragic murder of George Floyd. (PHOTO: Tara Houska)
“We all remember in stories and dance a young girl who survived a global pandemic. Her survival gives us hope.” —Dr. Brenda Child
Jingle Dress Dancer, Ni-koash (Nikki) Skinaway is from Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians of Northern Minnesota. She kindly posed for SNAG with her full jingle dress regalia after the Sunrise Ceremony at Alcatraz (CA), 2021. Landscape photo: “Sunrise at Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park”, Wikipedia Commons.
SNAG: What’s your favorite album right now? Lumhe: Tycho - Awake - on vinyl of course has been part of my meditation during the covid years What book has changed your life? Killers of the Flower Moon - the Osage people were once the richest people in the world. What’s your favorite medicine to heal with? Cedar maple tea has become my staple! What inspired you to dance and when did you start? I gotta give mad credit to my mom of course for exposing me to the world of art and the world of dance. I grew up in the Los Angeles area and I got to see and be exposed to dances from Latin American countries as well as Asian countries. It was amazing to experience this, but also to realize that we too have our traditions. So my mom was the one who got me dancing at pow wows, and that was a way for me to stay connected to my culture. It was a place where I actually felt accepted, welcomed, and celebrated for being part of it. I realized that I can really create good energy within myself just by dancing, but it’s especially true when people are watching me. If they like your dance, it gives them good energy, its a form of healing. A whole community of people dancing together at the pow wows, definitely creates a certain feel or energy that I resonate with and feel very comfortable in. That’s what is beautiful about the definition of culture, its always growing and evolving. As dancers explore the world around them this experience and knowledge is is your soul’s capacity to share in dance form, what you’re exposed to, and your cumulative intellectual accomplishments, not just in science and and mathematics but also in the arts. What’s a typical day in the life for you when your in creative workflow? Once you start doing something that resonates with your roots, it feels really good to exercise that. By practicing that and making this part of my daily existence, it supports, inspires and guides me. As Indigenous peoples we are exposed to rock music, hip hop, and r&b, but as soon as we get a hold of it, we apply our own way of expressing ourselves. One of the things that I do is try to tap into the basics. In dance, by learning the steps first it becomes my foundation.
An Interview with Lumhe Sampson Photo By SNAG Staff Additional Photo By Kate Scott
How does hoop dancing #healit for you?
How do we move towards seven generations of thriving?
When you are able to do something that makes you feel good, for instance, dancing like nobody is watching you, you just dance. When someone does catch me dancing, I also feel good, because that energy that is exchanged between me and the viewer is felt. We are both benefiting from the energy exchange. When we talk about dancing, there is a level of quantum physics that happens, because of this energy exchange. In that moment when they watch me dance, they are forgetting everything else in the world and in that moment they are open to receiving this positive energy.
We are part of the next generation, our elders are part of the previous generation. All of that knowledge needs to be picked up and shared with the next generation. All throughout the world, Indigenous people have knowledge to share about thriving in this world, especially here on Turtle Island where we have issues with extreme climate changes. Now, while we still can, it is imperative to understand the value of our traditional songs and dances and teach them. Our Indigenous people never did anything just for the funk of it. Everything they did was well intentioned and well integrated, as Indigenous knowledge always is. As people seek this knowledge we need to be ready to keep teaching and practicing what our ancestors have known for centruies.
When I am creating something from an perspective, in my mind and heart I am thinking positive thoughts or praying for those people there with me. I am creating in my Creator’s image, so naturally it is meant to create and not to destroy. So when people come up to me and say, ‘you crushed it’ or ‘you killed it,’ I believe I completed something to its fullest degree. What was created was positivity and good energy.
“Now that I have kids I’m definitely aware of the energy I put out in the world, and it is important to put out positive energy. We are all trying to tell a story and express ourselves through art, meaning we are working towards a common ground towards healing.”
Now that I have kids, I’m definitely aware of the energy I put out in the world and it is important to put out positive energy. We are all trying to tell a story and express ourselves through art, meaning we are working towards a common ground that is toward healing ourselves. What’s next for the Sampson Brothers? My brother and I (The Sampson Brothers) are tapping back into our music. We have been talking about making an album for years and have a couple of artists coming together to produce this album project. Keith Secola who helped us out with one of our tracks is one of our collaborators. It feels good to be able to work with artists who can take my message–my story and put something out there to many others to hear the what I want to share. We are also getting back in touch with another good friend of ours, Frank Waln, who we have collaborated with for years. We started getting back on track to revamping our performance and we’ll be coming to a stage near you soon.
We are starting to understand the value shifting away from capitalism. We cannot deny the fact that we are aware of the world and what impact we have on it.
As culture bearers we have to take a look at everything that has been commodified and industrialized and mass produced, which really can be mitigated or corrected by understanding Indigenous practices and ideologies. We start to realize how these teachings helped us make it through terrible things, like the genocide of our people. We come from such a strong and powerful blood line. They tried to wipe us out, but here, we still stand. We are still here and our cultures and traditional ways have fruit to bear. We have our practices and we can still teach these ways to our children, the next generation. We are our ancestors for future generations. We can get back to taking care of one another; everyone can be happy, healthy and loved as we each do our part. As much as has happened to our people, we are still thriving, we are still dancing, and we are still singing. One thing my brother would say, ‘we are not alone when we dance’; we dance for those who have come before us, for those who are present, and we dance for those who have yet to come. 3 @senecathrilla, @sampsonbroz www.sampsonbrosarts.com
By Bernadette Smith The acorn, for many California tribes, is a very important part of our history. Chichkale, known today as the Tan Oak, can be translated to Beautiful Tree. The Acorn harvest, this gift from Creator, has been celebrated for hundreds of years by the Coastal Pomo and beyond. The beautiful tradition that was once practiced throughout California annually is slowly fading. Why? How? I asked myself these very questions. I looked around my “homelands,“ the Manchester/ Point Arena Rancheria. Not a single Chichkale in sight. When you’re raised in a place that was set aside for you, it’s hard to see beyond those boundaries. When I finally found what I was searching for, longing for, dreaming of, it was miles from home. But not many. On a lonely mountain, high above my Reservation, I found the biggest Tan Oak trees. Hidden away behind NO TRESPASSING signs. Almost out of reach. Surrounded by poisoned trees. Purposely being killed
Photo by SNAG Staff
by forestry companies in pursuit of profits. The use of herbicides to kill young Tan Oaks is a devastating sight. A sight that had such a profound effect on me. I admittedly have never been a “tree hugger.” I have always been a traditional dancer, singer, and believer in our traditional ways. I soon found out that protecting Mother Earth and its resources, Creator has so lovingly provided, go hand and hand.
homelands and dreams. As I watched, I could feel something inside of my mind and spirit and thought to myself, I too have a story to tell, a message to share and soon, a song, instruction, and a solution was dreamt.
Oak trees. They had gathered from the Grandmother trees that remained. Rulan Tangen of Dancing Earth, helped to bring my vision to life of telling the story of the sacred Oaks through a theater piece we made for our youth. The children performed the theater piece and their dances for our people at the Gualala Arts Center, and brought tears to our elders’ eyes. I’m grateful that the Acorn will not be forgotten. We have much work to do. We continue to honor and celebrate Chichkale.
“Chichkale, known today as the Tan Oak, can be translated to Beautiful Tree. The Acorn harvest, this gift from Creator, has been celebrated for hundreds of years by the Coastal Pomo and beyond.”
I developed a deep concern for the acorn and decline of the Tan Oak. For the Tan Oak, the disease, SuddenOak Death was threatening to wipe out its entire existence for the seven generations to come. Also, the forestry companies are responsible for the acceleration of this extinction.
During this time of learning about the acorn, I was honored to attend a panel discussion with my father, Elder David Smith, on contemporary Indigenous dance. I saw beautiful dance pieces, such as ones by Emily Johnson, DayStar Rosalie Jones, and Rulan Tangen. Their dances told important stories of their
Reviving the Acorn Festival, a traditional celebration of the Acorn Harvest was such a beautiful accomplishment. This was an effort carried out by the youth of the MPA Tribe. With elder guidance and blessings from traditional leaders, the children were able to give their community the opportunity to honor the acorn once again. Building a brush house for the ceremony was just one of their major accomplishments.
We will be hosting our annual Acorn Festival this year to be held at the old Point Arena Air Force Base, once home to our people. A place where Chichkale thrives. A place we were kept away from for many years. Thanks to the prayers and efforts of the youth of Point Arena, those gates have opened and the land will be restored. 3
I felt the children would be the best story tellers. They have lived it. They saw the dead forest of Tan
By Kayla Frost Native ecologist Melissa K. Nelson believes we are, collectively, at a critical spiritual crossroads spoken about in an ancient Anishinaabe prophecy. The teachings tell of prophets who came to the Anishinaabe people with seven chronological predictions, referred to as “fires.” The first six prophecies have come true, and many Anishinaabe people say that humanity is now in the “time of the Seventh Fire,” a pivotal era that determines the future of our world. We now have a decision to make: Will we continue down the scorched path of destruction and greed, or find our way back to the green, fertile path that honors the sacredness of life? If we want to choose the path of healing and abundance, then we need to transform many of our systems — including the incredibly harmful and unjust industrial agriculture system that dominates the globe. “Agriculture is such an
important global issue because we all need to eat,” said Nelson, a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, professor in the School of Sustainability at Arizona State University, and longtime director of The Cultural Conservancy. “We all love food, and we need to honor regenerative agriculture that is giving back to the Earth, not just always taking from the Earth.” Regenerative agriculture is typically understood to be farming and ranching in ways that build soil health, increase biodiversity, recycle carbon dioxide, improve water quality, and more. It’s a growing movement that many Native Americans are saying is a positive step — as long as it’s not steeped in colonialism. When we talk about regenerative agriculture, “We really need to appreciate the fact that it’s just exploring Indigenous agriculture again,” said Kelsey Ducheneaux, Natural Resource Director of the Intertribal Agriculture Council. Native Americans have worked in partnership with the land for thousands of years — even after colonizers ripped them from their ancestral lands, murdered millions of life-sustaining bison, stole their carefully stewarded seeds, and violently forced them to assimilate into Western culture. Yet, while Native Americans and Indigenous peoples from around the world are foundational to regenerative agriculture, their knowledge and contributions are often neglected or blatantly ignored in academia, decision-making and media.
“In a time when we are facing climate change, a pandemic and other complex global issues, it’s vital that we humans renew our relationship with the land, water and other beings.”
Photos of Heron’s Shadow Farm by Sara Moncada
Indigenous knowledge and people “should have been guiding the conversation from day one, but we’re in a country where history likes to repeat itself, and that typically means that we’re going to leave behind the minorities that deserve the respect for having already known the solution,” said Ducheneaux, who is a fourth-generation rancher on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation and owner of DX Beef. Nelson said she values all farmers, but “it’s frustrating that we see our Indigenous knowledge of agriculture erased and marginalized and invisible. This whole overemphasis on regenerative, sustainable agriculture without mentioning Indigenous peoples is just wrong.” It’s time to recenter regenerative agriculture around Indigenous peoples, values, and solutions. Otherwise, it’ll just end up being another colonial system that isn’t as environmentally damaging as the one before it, but likely just as oppressive to the communities that are its backbone. We can’t just replace certain farming and ranching practices with more sustainable practices and pat ourselves on the back; real change will require a complete reset of the colonial, extractive mindset plaguing this country and the economic system rewarding it. Shaking off this colonial mindset requires us to understand the role of humans within Earth’s systems. “When we think about the Indigenous food systems that truly stewarded and evolved alongside of this landscape, we have to value the fact that we knew humans were a part of that system. We referred to components of nature with kinship, which teaches us we are just as much a part of nature as the sky,” Ducheneaux said. In a time when we are facing climate change, a pandemic and other complex global issues, it’s vital that we humans renew our relationship with the land, water and other beings. This is a relationship that colonialism, with its tenets of ownership and separateness, has damaged or severed altogether. For instance, seeds are commonly viewed in colonial cultures as commodities, devoid of any connection to the people caring for them. But, as Nelson said, “seeds are not just dead, objective pieces of nature that we can exploit. They’re actually living beings and are our Relatives that give us life.” Botanist Robin Wall Kimmerer, a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, writes beautifully in her book “Braiding Sweetgrass” about how humans are important members of Earth’s ecological systems. We are not outside of nature; we are an active part of it. Within this interconnected mindset, it’s easier to recognize how corrupt our dominant agriculture practices are. Year after year, the industrial system incen-
tivizes farmers and ranchers to plant the same few genetically modified commodity crops, till the soil to oblivion, douse fields with fertilizers and pesticides, and raise animals in disturbing conditions. Industrial agriculture is beleaguered with human rights issues and negative health outcomes. It’s also a leading cause of climate change, which will claim many more lives in the near future. On top of all that, industrial farming is not profitable. Since the mid-1990s, farm debt in the U.S. has been steadily rising year after year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. As of 2020, U.S. farmers are collectively more than 435 billion dollars in debt. Industrial agriculture doesn’t make sense on any level — unless you are one of the few entities reaping short-term profits from it. As the Executive Director of the Intertribal Agriculture Council, Zach Ducheneaux (Kelsey Ducheneaux’s dad) is dedicated to pushing for systemic change, particularly in financing. He said that agricultural transformation “[isn’t] possible under the current commodified system” in which finance entities “extract capital at a ridiculously fast rate. If we don’t address the broken [agriculture] finance system in this country, we’re going to continue to have the same results and regenerative agriculture is going to go nowhere.” To fundamentally change this relationship between farmers and financiers, the Intertribal Agriculture Council established a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) called Akiptan, a Lakota word meaning “together, in a joint effort, cooperatively.” As a financial partner for Native farmers and ranchers looking for a long-term investment into their regenerative operations, Akiptan allows producers to step outside of the industrial agriculture system and is one of countless Indigenous-led solutions that are guiding us down that prophesied green path. Indigenous peoples are stewarding and rematriating sacred seeds; kickstarting community-focused kitchens; tending the wild; leading regenerative farms and ranches; working toward food sovereignty; and advocating for radical change to heal the violence inflicted by colonial, capitalist systems. To transform our food system into something survivable, we must “recognize and honor the legacy of Indigenous farming and the sophisticated science of Indigenous agriculture, as well as elevate Native farmers as heroes and sheroes,” Nelson said. We must understand what’s going on in our food system.We must work together on intergenerational solutions that truly get to the root of our problems — or, to go even deeper, the “soil of our problems,” as “Farmer Rishi” Kumar said on the Green Dreamer podcast, “It’s going to be a long journey, and we have to do it together.” 3
Sunrise Prayer Indigenous People’s Day OCTOBER 11, 2021
“So we ask for blessings for our Mother Earth that is hurting. We ask to strengthen everything within our world, within Mother Earth, within the Universe, to give us that strength and that guidance to direct us and to help us in all our struggles and all that we are going through and endure and I ask that you bless each and every one of us, in our families, in our tribes, and our people and help us in every way that we can to resist all those harmful things that are impacting us. Give us the positivity and the help and strength that we need to survive.” — Dr. LaNada WarJack Shoshone-Bannock Tribes
Photo: Veronica Ramirez, Alcatraz 2021
Balik Sa Dagat: Return to the Sea By Elizabeth Rivera If we truly aim to decolonize in order to heal ourselves, our communities, and the world, we must re-indigenize our way of being. Re-indigenizing our way of being means to nurture our relationship with Mother Earth, by returning back, and connecting to the land and sea. Balik sa Dagat (return to the sea) Bangka (canoe) Journey is helping people do exactly that.
The Bangka serves as a profound connection to our collective ancient wisdom, bridging nations and Indigenous people to reconnect with their ancestral waters. Balik sa Dagat (return to the sea) intends to heal our connection to the natural world. Now more than ever, it is crucial for our people to return to Indigneous lifeways. It is up to the current generation to pass on the traditions of our elders.
Balik sa Dagat Bangka Journey builds and heals our communities by connecting to our cultural practices and our natural world. It is a creative and collaborative journey towards a more sustainable and healthy future.
The Bangka Journey was first seeded back in 2011 at “Paddle to Swinomish”, a canoe journey movement in Washington State. During this annual gathering of tribal canoe families in the Northwest, Mylene Cahambig and Holly Calica were invited by Indi-Pinays (Swinomish and Bisayan) Shelly Vendiola and her mother, Diane Vendiola. At the gathering, Philip Red Eagle, one of the co-founders of the canoe journey asked, “Where is the Filipino canoe?” From this interaction, community members Holly, Mylene, and Alexis laid the foundation for building a canoe, and brought the vision of the Bangka to fruition.
The Bangka is a canoe built with the intention of healing ancestral trauma and restoring connection to the natural world. It is a 22-foot long canoe that was handcrafted by the communities from all over the world.
The Bangka began as the original “World Canoe” drawing in people from around the world to help with building. This included a diverse group of master carvers who utilized their skills and seafaring knowledge from their home countries to contribute to the canoe. The first carvings were made by George Blake, a Hoopa Artist specializing in silversmithing, pottery , regalia, and painting. The Next Master carver was Wikuki Kingi, Maori, who led paddle-making sessions for local Native’s from the SF Bay Area. When I first heard of the Bangka, I was astonished. I’d seen canoes before, but never one that was hand carved, painted, and blessed by communities from all over the world. I’d first heard about the Bangka in 2019, after a production “Pilipinx Cultural Night” at UC Berkeley, a student-led production of music, dance and and acting, which follows the Filipino-American experience. Our 2019 production was centered around the story of the Bangka. Youth carver Fenua Ibabao who has been involved with Bangka Journey community since its formative years, was a writer for the PCN showcase and brought the Bangka into the storyline to strengthen visibility for the Indigenous people in California. At the very beginning of the performance, Pomo-Native and Cebuano cultural bearer and foundational member of the Bangka Journey, Aleixis Canillo, opened with a prayer which was performed on the world-renowned Zellerbach Stage. After hearing countless stories about the Bangka travels and its significance, I finally took the trip in March 2021 to visit with Alexis and Fenua in Sonoma County. The Bangka was resting beneath a tarp in the backyard of Brenda Bautista and Norman Sheehan’s house. The elders seemed particularly happy that Fenua and I were there, as they told us that they wanted the next generation to be involved with the Bangka Journey. Together we offer prayer and set intentions before the tarp was removed, I was simply in awe. As my fingertips grazed the
grooves on the Bangka, I could feel the energy of the tree that it was carved in. I could feel how much love and labor had been contributed to creating the Bangka, from the grooves within it, to the Abalone Shell detailing the outside. After witnessing the power and presence of the Bangka, I immediately invited friends from my music collective, Soulidarity Wave, and SNAG magazine to visit the Bangka again. This time around, we helped place the outriggers on the canoe, in front of the house on a normally quiet street. Strangers would walk by in awe of the canoe, and stop to ask what it was. We continued song, dance, prayers, and offerings to the Bangka and set intentions for the upcoming water test. With a decade of labor, love, song, celebration, and ceremony, the Bangka finally water tested in July 2021. The Bangka Journey family convened at Spring Lake in Sonoma County, Pomo territory. This was the first time the Bangka had been placed in a body of water since her creation. Everyone in the group was able to paddle out in the Bangka. Future plans include bringing her to the Canoe Journey, where her creation began, and the Bangka family aims to house the Bangka in a more permanent home, where future generations may have greater access to the Indigenous wisdom of traditional seafaring and carving. We must connect back to the land, water, and Earth, in order to truly heal in a just and sustainable way. We must continue to stay connected and bridge our Indigenous worlds for our future generations. 3 How to get involved with the Bangka Journey @baliksadagatbangkajourney
Photos: SNAG Staff
Interview with Roberto Nutlious, Builder of Traditional Homes SNAG: What do you consider your community and who are your mentors/ leaders that had an impact on your life? Roberto Nutlious: Currently my community is here on Black Mesa, my people here, we do a lot of restorative work with the folks that inspire me, the youth and elders. I never grew up with formal mentorship, we live in really rural areas and we never had access to those kind of youth programs, which was what really inspired me to do this work in Black Mesa. There were very little opportunities growing up, as young person. I’ve always had elders who have stressed the
importance of the ways of our life, the Diné Way, the teaching, the language, the culture. I try my best in ways to be innovative, and also support others who are trying to maintain their Diné way of life. Can you tell us about the traditional homes in your area and how you got involved in building traditional homes? I’ve always been intrigued by these Hogan’s, if you just look at them when you go inside you are mesmerized by the architecture and design, and I’ve always
wanted to build one myself. I finally had the opportunity to through Black Mesa water coalition, an organization I worked with for many years and also helped co-found (the organization). when I was hired on as a staff, the organization had been campaigning on the rez for just transition, which was our campaign on the rez. It was to get the tribes to transition away from fossil fuel to a more sustainable regenerative economy. I was brought on to see what that would look like for our community—on the ground what does just transition mean? I was honored to take on that task and do the various pilot projects, with feedback from the community. One of the things from our tradition is we are told that everything begins with a thought (Nitsahakees in Diné language). Today when we look at what’s happening globally, something has gone wrong with our thinking process that has contributed to all of this social and ecological collapse that we are witnessing. In order to bring about the change we have to re-evaluate our thinking process. A lot of the thinking process and teaching occurs in the home, and these traditional homes that we’re building, there is so much teaching that goes with it, in relation to who we are, what are purpose is here on earth, and what is our relationship to mother earth, to father sky, and all the other relatives that we co-exist with. That really needs to be brought back into our thinking process. We’ve been privileged and blessed to have been asked to build these hogans across the Navajo Nation, and the four corners area.
fully. From there we start harvesting the logs, we use two different species the Juniper tree is a hardwood, we use that for the pillars and the main wall, for the roof we use a ponderosa pine, they tend to be bigger and longer, and because the hogans are pretty big 24 to 30 foot diameter. Much of the forest is going up in flames, so us being there and harvesting these tree’s, we are helping to thin out the forest, that’s what all Indignenous people have been doing, interacting with their eco-systems in ways that are mutually beneficial. Harvesting these logs helps us to reconnect to these eco-systems and understand what is the state of our forests. Drought has been hitting our region really hard. Now we are beginning to see a lot the Juniper trees die off. Juniper trees are a very drought hearty plant, but we are seeing a massive die off, which is really telling us that things are shifting really fast. Its kind of sad to see that, but at the same time its also good to be there and witness.
We go out to the forest with them to get permission from the plants species and trees, and make offerings, so we always do everything very prayerfully.
What was really exciting about this is to have young people participate and learn the skills. That has made the work very enjoyable working with these young people. We see elders come around, it reminds them of their upbringing and the teachings they were raised with. We create these cultural spaces, and then we have a space for learning, and to re-connect during these challenging times, its also a healing space, and a teaching space for the whole community. What’s involved in the creation of the new building from start to finish? We usually have one of our traditional practitioners who does the prayers for us, sometime we go out to the forest with them to get permission from the plants species and trees, and make offerings, so we always do everything very prayer-
The frist part is collecting the logs and cleaning them, we take the logs back to our site to clean them, it takes about 3 months for them to harvest and dry out, and then we take them to the build site. The construction side takes about a month to put it all together, we put the wood structure together, after that we use a natural earth plaster whatever is available on site, a kind of an adobe or cob mix, that is something that is different from traditional hogan making; it makes it really hard and so it doesnt erode as easily. Typically they would just take dirt and pack it down. After the hogan is done, we have a ceremony, the sanctification of the hogan, which I really enjoy. The owners bring their own medicine and the people who come to do the blessing share their stories, songs and prayers. A lot of these structures are built on school campuses, so its really geared towards educating young people on culture and language. How do you involve the youth in the community in the process of building and what are you working on now? We started this through a fellowship program that we used to do under Black Mesa water coalition, a 10 week fellowship that was really about training the young people on how to develop campaigns and how to write grants. One of the first groups of fellows we had decided to build a hogan, at that time they were
supposed to take the logs to Standing Rock. They wanted to help by creating a winter shelter. But that didn’t happen, we ended up partnering with another group, and we put the hogan on the eastern side of the mountain. That particular project brought a lot of Native youth from all over and we spent a couple of weekends building with them along with our fellows. It was started by the young and it continues to draw young people. I work with what the system labels as troubled youth. They have a lot of energy, and really need to release that in a positive way. Those are the folks who have really gravitated to these projects that we do. When we started the fellowship many of them dropped out of school. There really is no enrichment schools that help them because they have not finished high school. I have always had a heart for those folks and I try to involve them and make space for anyhone who wants to participate. A majority of my crew members are young men that either dropped out of school or got kicked out and there is really no other opportunities on the reservation, and they are blessing to me, because its hard work. At the moment we are constructing another hogan out in New Mexico, and we should be done by the end of this month, and after that we have a watershed and food system restoration project, which is part of the work we used to do with BMWC (Black Mesa Water Coalition). It is all under the understanding that we have to act now, because of the fast changes that are coming with climate change, we have to innovate and capture as much water as we can. We just recently heard the Navajo tribal utility announce that the water levels is really, really low, so they are mandating limits to water now on the reservation. If this continues they say there is a possibility of a point of no return. So this is real and is happening in our community. We are thinking about things that we can do to try and adapt and mitigate the impacts of climate change. We introduce a lot of political education to the young people, we really do take the advice from our communities, and get engagement from our community, its mix of education but we also get educated as community organizers. We are working on policy changes in the community at the tribal level around food systems and really want to encourage food traditional foods and traditional farming. How can we as indigenous people thrive for the next seven generations? Count our blessings and really it comes back to our attitude and our mental state. I think that for the next seven generations we are gonna see tremendous changes, it may be chaotic, and even in the chaos it leaves a lot of room for innovation, renewing traditional and ancestral practices, for enlightenment.
Photos by Roberto Nutlious of several eight sided traditional homes or hogan’s built for the community as gathering spaces for culture and education. These photos show how a hogan is constructed from post and beam, stem walls, the alignment of the roof, and completed with earthen plaster. All photos were taken at Pinon, AZ and Star School
I say that because in our creation stories, this is not the first time we have experienced social calamity. We have gone through these phases, at least four times before. Something comes about, a knowledge or deeper awareness that becomes a part of the collective teachings of our people. So even if things might look bad, I always remind young people, that this is an opportunity to continue to add to the knowledge and innovate, and revive traditional practices, and to demonstrate that these time tested skills and technologies are really the solutions to a lot of the challenges that we are seeing in the community. Every culture in humanity has a beautiful narrative to remember their sacredness. Unfortunately for our people having experienced trauma in boarding school, having christianity forced on our people, has really distorted our self image of who we are. Today we are often told by mainstream or defined by the mental ills of our community. In order to thrive again we really have to shift our consciousness away from these lies that we have been told, and reconnect back to that sacredness and our potential and in doing so we learn how that support our communities. We cannot survive individually, it has to be a collective. We have to set these examples too. One thing I say to the community is, often times when we talk about traditional knowledge, its often referred to as something in the past, we have to shift that to something that is being lived in the present experience. There is room for these teaching in our modern life ways, and we have to bring it back. We will survive and we will thrive again into the seventh generation. 3
UPDATE FROM THE NEST
NEST Community Arts Center Home of SNAG Magazine
So grateful to all of you for visiting the NEST supporting us with your labor, and giving us a reason to exist. It has been all of you that have showed up, who believed another world was possible, who stopped in and brought fruit salad, who made food for our work days, who helped during our workshops and came with an open heart ready to learn and to get your hands in this red earth. It is all of you who made this work possible. We want to take this opportunity to thank all of you who made our dream possible of completing our first building here, Ama Jusay Ja’a or Earth Basket Home. We would like to thank the 300 + volunteers, our community who helped us complete this beautiful structure here at the NEST, our cob visual arts studio. We are eternally grateful to you and want to thank all of you from the depths of our spirit. Thank you, Yah We! NEST/ SNAG Staff With the generous support from our donors and funders, Hammond Climate Solutions and NDN Collective, we are happy to share that we are going solar here at the NEST in 2022. We have just completed building our solar ground mount, and are currently finishing our battery storage unit for our 22KWH off-grid system. We can’t wait to turn the switch on and power the next generation of artists, we are juiced!
“Sige, Pamasko Ka” 2021, mixed media art installation by Jenn Ban, @jenn.ban
Scan this QT code for a short clip from our housewarming Fall 2021. Video by Glenn Acquino
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Payahupaway makes jewelry that are all one of a kind pieces. Kinsinta works with traditional materials of her people; such as abalone, dentalium shells, clam shells, cedar berries, & pinenuts. She likes to incorporate a modern touch with glass beads and crystals. @payahupaway
Sakari Farms works in collaboration with the Central Oregon Seed Exchange as a unique Deschutes County based cold climate seed bank, offering free seed and agricultural education to the public. We also host Sakari Botanicals, our Value Added Product culinary and healing tribal business. sakarifarms.com
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SNAG Magazine has been curating and publishing art and music each year for the past 18 years with SNAG Magazine we have published over 500 Native artists to date in a stunning collection of 11, 64-page issues, and a 300 page anthology, get your SNAG swag at www.snagmagazine.com
Eighth Generation is a Seattle-based art and lifestyle brand owned by the Snoqualmie Tribe, and was founded by Louie Gong (Nooksack). Their products are 100% Native designed, actively increasing business capacity among cultural artists while addressing the economic impact of cultural appropriation. @eighthgeneration
The NTVS (The Natives) is a Native owned clothing company established in 2014. The brand is for everyone who supports Indigenous culture. They are a premium Native American brand driven by Indigenous art and culture who specializ in T-shirts, snapbacks, tanks, and hoodies. @ntvsclothing
NSRGNTS is a Los Angeles- based Native brand/ collective, which spreads messages of revolution through clothing and art. Their work encompasses apparel, murals, street art, and documentaries, which amplify the voices of native communities. @nsrgnts
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Divine Right Self love is my Divine Right. El quererme a mi is an act of ancestral healing donde el amor es bálsamo to the generational trauma de mi linaje. Donde tomar el tiempo to sit with blo odlines of colonizer and colonized fuck with my perception of what is right. Where feeling shame at the pale skin I can’t hide is a reminder of the rape my grandfathers subjected my abuelitas to. En mi para esta destrucción. En mi hay possibility of healing the hurt that spills into coraje, resentment, and hardness. My heart is clay, maleable, soft, and smelling of wet earth. My veins carry shards of obsidiana cutting wounds of, “no me olvides.” My throat holds centuries of pride, holding in cantos left in silence to survive. My eyes hold years of tears refusing to fall por orgullo. My hands are stained with blo od and shame. My soul is tortured with gross violence inflicted por la sed of the conquest. I am my ancestors’ wildest dreams not because I am a guerrera. But because in me there is hope of, “maybe.” En mi se encuentran el conquistado y el conquistador. En mi hay el susurrar de, “a la mejor se puede.” In me is a battle refusing to hide living a duality. En mi están la duda de quién soy y la pregunta de quién seré. Porque al amarme I honor those who came before me. When I heal my abuela, sano a mi madre, al sanar mi madre sano yo, al sanar yo sana mi hija y al sanar mi hija sana mi linaje. I love myself as an act of defiance, Porque una bastarda como yo shouldn’t be digna of self love. But a Bitch’s lineage is strong, and she loves herself despite being told she can’t. Because to love myself is a radical act of revolution where those at war in my bloodlines are allowed to release centuries of hate and rabia. Self love is my Divine Right.
Poet, Writer, and Founder of Spiritual Cabrona, LLC. @SpiritualCabrona
Read Xolayruca’s bio and intro and listen to her recite this poem here: www.ofrendamagazine.com/articles/divine-right. Originally Published in Ofrenda Magazine, Issue 02.
Who we remember live on, in us, and through our sacred actions! Celebrate Them. Celebrate Them. Celebrate Them.
Your “Sacred Action” Template (see pp. 34-35)
Art by Ernesto Yerena Montejano @ernestoyerena
“Two Walls” Lyrics by Audiopharmacy …“Mama mama, when I sing for Guadalupe so my mama can feed her seeds for a new day, freedom to move, freedom to change their lives, now lo ok at those eyes I can see the pride, to those out on the corner slanging fruit or elote the ones in field fight for little to no pay, the ones in detention camps hungry and thirsty, I pray you make across success on your first day, another senator shot they died over information, its all a war that results in the immigration, they pass laws throw them natives in incarceration, their past time intimidation interrogation, all so these kids can live with these privileges, every one I know from Mexico is Indigenous, with Native tongues only spoken in the villages, lo ok at the borders only separating relatives, they building walls strategize and they terrorize, its crabs in a bucket or conquer and divide, I see the future and the beauty in my babies eyes the two walls will fall and all the people rise! …