So I told you I would be featuring some fantastic Indigenous women this month, and I'm so excited to introduce you to the first one! Cali is Sičháŋǧu Lakȟóta from the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. She is a trauma nurse, blogger, and ambassador for Native Women's Wilderness.
Cali details her journey to embracing her heritage on her blog, Through Her Native Eyes. Cali and I originally connected on Instagram. Her posts are beautiful, educational, and heartfelt. Her blog shares her story, Indigenous history, and how to be an ally to Indigenous peoples. I also loved her guest post discussing what it's like traveling as a Native woman, and how we can be respectful of Indigenous peoples and the history of Native lands.
Cali's love for nature and hiking has been essential as she has been called back to her heritage. Now she advocates for diversity and representation in outdoor and hiking industries, and is an ambassador for Native Women's Wilderness.
You may remember Native Women's Wilderness from last weeks post introducing the unique challenges Native Women face, and the fantastic organizations rising to meet those challenges. They are a Native run initiative that inspires and raises the voices of Native Women in the Outdoor Realm. They encourage a healthy lifestyle grounded in the Wilderness, and educate Natives and non-Natives on the rich beauty and heritage of the Ancestral Lands beneath our feet. (adapted from Native Womens Wilderness mission statement.)
Cali has become a strong advocate for her people, and justice for missing and murdered Indigenous women. I love her story so much. I'm inspired by her concentrated intention and determination to reconnect with and uncover her heritage and cultural traditions. I'm challenged by her calls to action and equity. I relate strongly to her love for the wilderness, and I'm galvanized by her hope.
I was so honored to have Cali answer a few questions for this post!
I loved your post "Being Native in a White World" and how shared so beautifully about your personal history. What has it been like for you more recently as you've been embracing your heritage? Do you feel like it has been a homecoming in a way?
"I feel like I have finally had the honor of truly getting to know myself. There were parts of me that were covered, hidden and ignored for so long. I’ve had a few moments recently where I’m like… “everything makes so much sense now.” I lived a lot of my life unhappy, with no true identity. So growing into my newly reclaimed identity has been life changing for me."
Tell us a little bit about your ambassadorship with Native Womens Wilderness. "When I was contacted about becoming an ambassador for NWW, it was an obvious yes. I had been growing into my Lakota identity and finding my voice, while simultaneously reconnecting to the outdoors. So to be able to embrace both as they intersect is a huge honor for me. NWW is applying for it’s 501c3 status this year, and we have been focusing on obtaining sponsors so we can provide gear and funding to Native girls and women, sending Native girls and women to outdoor camps and participating in DEI (diversity, equity, inclusion) work within the outdoor industry. We have some really exciting and big plans for next year!"
If you could recommend a few resources for my readers and myself to become better educated on Indigenous peoples and their history, what would those be?
"The entire #TravelingWhileNative series on HNTTLABB. An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz. Be sure that you are reading books and articles from Native authors."
What does decolonizing mean to you?
"For me, decolonizing has been learning Lakhotiyapi (Lakota language), returning to ceremony and fully embracing my identity as a Lakota winyan (woman)."
How do you and / or the native communities that you're part of generally feel about the Thanksgiving holiday? "I can’t speak for the entire Native community, but my family has always used this as a time to be together and enjoy good food. I would never want anyone to miss out on family time, but I do think it is important to acknowledge the truth surrounding the day and how it came to be."