Introduce yourself! What should the world know about you?
I’m an Aniyunwiya (citizen of the Cherokee Nation) poet and artist. As a native Oregonian, I have long been spoilt when it comes to having the outdoors as my own backyard. I’m also a yoga teacher, forest bather, meditator, and spend long stretches at 4 am outside where the world feels like it’s my own.
What are you passionate about?
Poetry, animals, practicing ahimsa, peace, my cats, and my family.
What drives you as a person, a leader, and a storyteller? What or who shapes you?
My roots, the lineage of my ancestors, and my past are all big drivers in who I am in every facet of my life. Since I am fortunate to have a good amount of platforms, I consider it my responsibility to use them wisely, to spark discourse, and to Indigenize my space and our shared home.
Why did you apply to the Rethink Outside™ Fellowship? What are you hoping to learn from this experience?
The outdoors heal–it’s as simple as that. When I can’t be outside on a regular basis (such as traveling in areas deemed unsafe) I experience a holistic clenching that can only be addressed with a long run or hike in the woods. I know I’m lucky in that regard because I have access, knowledge, and a background in tapping into the healing powers of the earth. I want to help others access and experience the same.
How will the Rethink Outside™ Fellowship experience help you address the systemic barriers for access to, and representation / leadership of Black, Indigenous, and people of color in the movement to connect people and nature?
There is a great divide in what is typically dubbed rez NDNs and urban NDNs. I have always been the latter. Reconnecting through the outdoors is a natural place for us to come together, build strength in our communities, and return to the teachings of our elders and ancestors who knew/know the importance of communing with the earth.
What is your favorite activity / place which connects you to nature and the outdoors?
I’ll always love my home state, but there have been two places that I’ll always hold dear: the Grand Canyon and Niagara Falls. Nothing can prepare you for that. However, when it comes down to it, the forests in the Portland area, especially pre-dawn when I’ve often come upon enormous owls watching over me, will always be my home.