2022-223 UNITY 25 UNDER 25 AWARDEE
What are the top three issues of concern in Navajo/Dine communities?
The first is food insecurity, lack of resources (water, housing, jobs), and illegal fracking which creates an unstable ecosystem. I would suggest that we begin soil rejuvenation across the nation and encourage for farmers to begin planting to provide food for communities and eliminate the fast food chains which benefit rich corporations and leave our people hurt. Second, I would suggest that we update the infrastructure of the Navajo Nation by giving rural areas more accessible water. And, we need to invest in the strategic development of educational institutions to provide quality education to our native children and community. Lastly, stop fracking, and give back the land and water rights to the people of the nation to build a strong nation that can thrive using modern technology but implementing a life of Dine (Navajo) philosophy.
Solution-based programming: Where to Begin
To begin with, I’d focus on educational institutions because children take priority in my mind. I would begin with curriculum building and I’d start with a small community school with a team of all educators where we reflect on how we can make the curriculum more life and skill-based rather than assimilating our own children to think in a white man’s way. After, we’d begin project planning on how we want the school environment to be with the development of intentional space placement. I see myself being the project manager who delegates and keeps everyone on track with the direction of where we want to lead our students. Furthermore, I would want to expand this mission to the rest of the Navajo Nation to make education accessible for all and a quality one at that.
Promoting Hózhó Wellness:
The project would give more students the opportunity to attend a school that cares about the wellness and development of the child’s character to survive as a human in the world. This would give students the confidence to dream about the future in education and they will be part of a revolution of indigenous resiliency. The community would be enriched, and less likely to suffer from generational trauma in a negative way where they cannot heal. It would be one step of healing the community inward and outward.
Hózhó is the complex wellness philosophy and belief system of the Diné (Navajo) people, comprised of principles that guide one’s thoughts, actions, behaviors, and speech.
Ajah-Rain Yellowhair, Navajo, NM – Ajah intends to pursue a major in Political science and global affairs to become a policy development maker that assists in implementing humanitarian aid efforts. Her skills would be applied to help the people of the Navajo Nation regarding structure in governance and policies. She plans to pursue a future focus on educational studies to improve the educational institutions in the Navajo Nation. As a Navajo Preparatory alumni, she plans to attend the University of Portland, and connecting with the local WeRNative will allow me to work with native communities. Ajah’s life goal is to advance the current and next indigenous youth to brighter futures through holistic healing through service.
The UNITY 25 Under 25 award is a national youth leadership recognition program that honors Native American and Alaskan Native youth leaders who exemplify UNITY’s core mission and exude living a balanced life, developing their spiritual, mental, physical, and social well-being. The biennial program, launched in 2014, recognizes and celebrates the achievements of 25 outstanding Native youth leaders under 25 in Indian country. “Our Native youth have a passion for building and bettering their communities. UNITY’s 25 Under 25 program recognizes their achievements and encourages these young people to stay involved and further develop their leadership skills,” said Mary Kim Titla, UNITY executive director.