Diné Bizaad’s Role in Recycling
UNITY Earth Ambassador submission by Binaahozhoonii Daisey Howard, 15, Navajo (Dine) / Zuni. Learn how she plans to empower Native youth to action as environmental advocates in New Mexico. “Being an indigenous advocate is to speak on behalf of our sacred Mother Earth. As an UNITY Earth Ambassadors, we are teachers to those that do no know all the environmental issues in Indian Country. We need to educate people how to start learning to heal our sacred Mother Earth.”
Binaahozhoonii further explains how “in my Navajo Culture Mother Earth, Father Sky, and the Universe, Water are very scared elements and need to be treated as such. Many people have forgotten to act accordingly. We need to get out there to encourage people to do more environmental healthy things for our planet.”
In what ways are you addressing environmental concerns within your tribe or local community?
“I am working with my mother, Bernita Bedah, in her Dual Language Program class, with hopes of spreading the word about recycling to the brilliant youth. This has been the most challenging thing I have ever faced. On our Navajo Nation, we do not have many recycling centers. Our reservation has many landfills. People are dumping their trash everywhere and anywhere. I see a crying sacred Mother Earth screaming out for help.”
“If I can teach one person to recycle in Dine’, I feel that is an accomplishment I can be proud of.”
Don’t Be Discouraged. Keep Trying: “No one I know locally has taken action on this problem. We need help monitoring the people who are littering. In part it is a capacity issue. I remember in the past when I ran, the trails used to be clean and now when I run all I see is trash pollution under my feet. The local transfer stations now charge for trash dumping. Perhaps people don’t have the economic means to dispose of their trash properly.In the past, I have tried to start recycling programs in the different schools in the area, but often times the door is shut in my face. I have also tried to go to the Chapter meetings within local chapters but it seems like another dead-end. It makes me question “Do my Navajo people not hear or see me?” But these feelings help empower me. It shows me that I need to do something about this. I need community action to grow our good intentions into common sustainable and honorable practices.”
Small Steps to Success: “I have found success within in my mom’s classroom. We are building future ambassadors in her classroom. My goal as an Earth Ambassador is to expand it to our local community as a priority concern. I am determine that one day, I will create Navajo Recycling Centers. I plan to start a program called “Pick up trash Every Day” project. I will continue to express my concerns in the schools to young people and in the local chapters. I want the community to be educated about sustainable practices and not to feel like they are helpless against these challenges. I am motivated to make a change in our school systems.”
Earth Mother’s Love Language: “If you think about it, our elders are the key to healing anything. I want to engage elders and even educate them on new sustainable practices. For this reason, I am trying to become a fluent speaker in my Navajo Dine Language. Each word and cultural practice is like a love letter to our Earth mother. I want to make an ecological impact on my home, school, community, my Navajo Nation, and outward to my state of New Mexico, then the United States and lastly our sacred Mother Earth. It is possible.”
What Can Native Youth Do?“One person cannot change it, it has to take a family, a clan, a group of people who are passionate about saving our planet to make this difference. I do not want my grandchildren to be born into a destructive polluted world. We need to save our Mother Earth now! We do not have time to wait anymore. We as Native youth have to embrace the honor that it is to be an environmental ambassador. We need to find our voice for Sacred Mother Earth.”
Feeling Inspired yet?! Earn $45 gift cards and other prizes for your A Earth Service project!
This is a call to action! The preservation of Mother Earth has been identified by Native youth as a top priority. Earth day was on April 22nd, but you have all May to make a difference! All it takes is a little planning for your Earth Service project and you’re on your way to earning some spending money and cool UNITY swag! Click below to learn more.