Representing Navajo Women At This Year's Women's March

 

1. What was your favorite part of the Women's March? 

 My favorite part was being surrounded by so many empowered, determined, and beautiful women. I loved being around my Indigenous community too. In fact, one of my favorite experiences occurred with a fellow Navajo woman. I too am Navajo, and, in our traditions, we have this hairstyle known as a tsiiyééł. It is a hair bun that is very important to our people and is sacred. I wore it with my moccasins as well, but shortly after the speakers began, I felt the bun start to become loose. Amber, one of the Indigenous women standing in front of me, noticed and asked me if I wanted her to fix it, I gladly agreed. That moment… that was the moment I felt the solidarity. I felt the care, I felt the fight, I felt the love. Something as simple as another Navajo woman fixing my tsiiyééł showed me that the cause we are fighting for was very much alive and thriving. 

2. What is one thing that surprised you the most about the march? 

I was surprised at the number of people who arrived. I have never been to a Women’s March, this was my first time. I am from Gallup, New Mexico and an immensely smaller town than Phoenix so seeing so many people gather for a march was new and surprising. 

3. Favorite Sign?

The sign that spoke to me the most read, "No More Stolen Sisters" and it is in solidarity for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. 4 out of 5 Indigenous women in the United States experience violence and 1 in 3 will experience sexual assault or get murdered. This is a huge epidemic across all Indigenous territory in the United States. This sign serves as a call to action and justice for our Indigenous sisters.  

 

Photo courtesy of: Ngan Pham (nanphamily)

4. What do you wish to see happen in Women's Rights movement in 2018? Rights in general? 

In 2018, I wish to see rights for all women increase. I hope that lawmakers can provide proper healthcare, basic rights for transgender individuals, and laws to combat workplace discrimination for members of the LGBTQ community. Most importantly, I want women to use the legal system to the fullest extent to seek the proper justice for any type of harm done to them. 

5. Describe your experience as a Navajo woman at the march? What are some traditions that the women do for empowerment? 

 As a Navajo woman, it was very empowering to be able to participate with many determined women and my own Indigenous community. The Navajo people function as a matrilineal society, identifying with our mother’s clan first. My first clan is Kinyaa’áanii which is the Towering House clan. This clan is known for its leaders and teachers, which means leadership is in my blood. So of course, I am going to stand up for my sisters! 

6. Advice to those who wish to go next year or didn't go this year? 

 For those going next year, make a sign, talk to people, embrace one another and most of all: protect one another. 

7. How did you come up with your poster idea? 

My sign said, “Female Reign Brings Forth Renewal." In Navajo culture during the spring, there is female rain and male rain. Male rain is designed to be harsh and is accompanied by thunder, lightning, and wind; it’s meant to cleanse the earth of death. Female rain is designed to be light, plentiful, and slow; it’s meant to bring forth life, sprout growth and essentially, renewal. Therefore, my sign derives from the female rain in bringing forth renewal.