Native Americans represent just one per cent of the US population and some languages have only one speaker left. Now a new generation is fighting to preserve the culture.

Evereta Thinn

Age: 30

Tribe Affiliation: Diné (Navajo)

Occupation: Administrator at a Shonto School District

When Evereta entered college as the only Native American in her English 101 class, it was at that moment she realized that she needed to speak up and not be that stereotypical 'shy' Indian that keeps to herself. She started bywriting an essay in that very class about living in 'two worlds'; living in the traditional world and living in the modern world and how Native Americans need to find that balance in today’s society. 'Knowing who you are as a Native, know the teachings from your elders and engraining them as you go out into the modern world is how you maintain that balance'. She further explains that 'once the language fades, the culture will slowly start to go too. If the younger generations cannot speak the language, how will they be equipped to make decisions on policies and protect our tribes in the future?' She aspires to start a language and cultural immersion school for the DinĂ© (Navajo) people.

Sage Honga

Age: 22

Tribe Affiliation: Hualapai, Hopi & Diné (Navajo)

Occupation: Server at W Hotel in Scottsdale, Arizona

Sage earned the title of 1st attendant in the 2012 annual pageant, Miss Native American USA. From that point forward, she has been encouraging Native youth to travel off the reservation to explore opportunities. In Native American culture, knowledge is power and the youth are encouraged to leave the reservations, get an education and then come home to give back to your people. 'My tribe, the Hualapai people, is so small that I want to be a role model to show my community and youth that it is possible to come off our land and do big things'.

Photo credit: Carlotta Cardana 

Juanita C. Toledo

Age: 28

Tribe Affiliation: Walatowa-Pueblo of Jemez

Occupation: Works for the Community Wellness Program on Jemez Pueblo Reservation

Growing up, Juanita was valedictorian of her charter school, President of the Native American Youth Empowerment (NAYE) group, and on the executive committee of UNITY (United National Indian Tribal Youth Organization). During college things changed dramatically for Juanita. She felt the pressure of life and quickly fell into depression, anxiety and succumbed to drugs and alcohol after dealing with a very traumatizing family event. 'It was the worst time of my life; I really thought I was going to die and I wanted to die'. In 2012, she had a turning point. 'I started to believe in my dreams and in myself again.' She ran for Miss Indian World, one of the most prestigious honours a Native American woman could receive. Although she didn’t take the title, her tribal community was extremely proud of her representation. Today, she works for the Community Wellness program on her reservation and has truly influenced positive changes in the program and in her community.

Photo credit: Carlotta Cardana

Kelli Brooke Haney

Age: 33

Tribe Affiliation: Seminole, Creek and Choctaw

Occupation: Musician / Artist

As the daughter the internationally recognized Native American artist and former Chief of the Seminole Nation, Enoch Kelly Haney, it’s no shock that artistic and bold talent radiate from the ever-inspiring Kelli Brooke. In the early 2000s she formed a rockabilly band with her best friend called The Oh Johnny! Girls and also has a solo music project called Hudson Roar. Kelli grew up in a household where her parents spoke Seminole Creek as the first language. She is also the mother to a sweet five-year old boy, Jack, and expresses the importance of raising him with Native American traditions as well as encouraging him to embrace his own artistic talents. (Read More)

Responses to "Meet The Generation Of Incredible Native American Women Fighting To Preserve Their Culture"

  1. Robin Phillips says:

    Great important work. Native cultures have much that modern cultures need to learn! Robin Phillips rainforest fruit farmer

  2. Paul Taylor says:

    What a wonderful group of women working to preserve the old ways. May their journey be blessed.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Totally awesome. Strong bindings equal strong connection(s) to mother earth

  4. kadatije says:

    Blessings to you all....don't ever give up

  5. Unknown says:

    This is where it starts! God Bless Native women everywhere!

  6. Linda Walling-Stone says:

    Growing up, we were told to keep quiet about our ethnicity. To blend. Did not know that it would have meant the loss of our culture and traditions. Keep up the good work and the pride you show in your life work. We cannot let our Natives become extinct, forgotten or mistreated again.

  7. Unknown says:

    Updating my post.. My Background: I'm A Blackfeet Native American from Browning Montana, the Blackfoot Reservation. I joined the U.S. Navy to serve our Country, to Honor my people, to Honor my Family. My Daughter Jasmine OldChief, my first born, who I look at everyday that keeps me going, to push myself, to make me better, she has sacrificed so much being my daughter, my daughter who is a daughter of a Service member. My children, like so many others in our position, don't get to grow up around our family traditions that is an everyday occurrence on our Native Lands, my home. But when we have the chance, to Honor our Children for their Great accomplishment, it shouldn't be hidden and told you can do whatever to your graduation cap and gown after the ceremony. This is OUR CHILDRENS time to shine, NOT the school. I am very appreciative for the teacher of what they do, but it's the kids that put in the work. Let them be proud of their accomplishment. A simple Sacred Eagle Feather that represents our Nation, a beaded cap that's worn during CEREMONIES shouldn't be forbidden.

    I need help. How can we get our Voice heard and have it put into place that all Native American Children who graduate wherever in America, that they get to wear their beaded Eagle Feather and beaded cap during their honored time, their graduation ceremony?

    My daughter Jasmine OldChief, will be graduating from Camden County High School in Kingsland Georgia may 20, 2016 due to me being stationed here at Kings Bay Sub Base GA. Why should children be punished, why can't we honor our traditions? Why should parents have to petition for us to represent our traditions. Grand Forks High School last year just won the right to wear their Eagle Feather for their graduation ceremony.

Write a comment