As women’s history month comes to a close, we continue to uplift the power and beauty that is the feminine spirit. Acknowledging the imprint of matriarchs who birthed, nurtured, inspired, and protected us throughout our lives, we asked members of our NDN Collective staff to share some inspiring words on what Indigenous womanhood means to them.
Here’s what some of our powerful NDN Collective Women and Femmes had to say:
Martell Hesketh, Mohawk/Plains Cree
Research & Evaluation Manager
To me being an Indigenous woman means the honor of being a part of a long lineage of powerful, fierce, and joyful matriarchs. It reminds me of my responsibility to pass on traditions and the ancestral knowledge that I carry.
Joselyn Kaxhyêk Borrero, Tlingit
Website Content Manager
Today, I say Gunalchéesh axh Léelk’w! (Thank you, Grandmother!) I am the manifested prayer of my Łingit Grandmother’s Great Grandmother, humbled with the honor of nurturing this Matriarchal wisdom that has been left in my care. Like the intrinsic knowing of the fireweed seed, our future Indigenous generations will continue to thrive.
Angelica Solloa, Maya and Hopi
NDN Action Digital Organizer
Being an Indigenous Queer woman is liberating. With each step, I acknowledge that I walk with a long ancestral lineage of bold matriarchs who not only birthed generations but also served as leaders and warriors. This colonial society has a way of isolating women and making us feel inferior. We must remember that our shared struggles are our collective liberation.
Janene Yazzie, Diné
Southwest Regional Director
To me, being an Indigenous Woman means being rooted in the sacred; a way of living that honors the strength of our ancestors, the beautiful interconnection we have with Mother Earth and all life, and the shared responsibilities to protect current and future generations. A dear colleague from Aotearoa that recently passed, Hinewirangi Kohu Morgan, always reminded us, ‘Every person’s first environment, first waters, is the womb.’ A wisdom that guided her work as a fierce advocate for Indigenous Peoples and Mother Earth. Indigenous teachings tell us this is also how the power of the feminine exists, across and within all genders. Whether we have wombs or not, we are bound together by this fierce love. This is our beautiful connection that becomes obscured by the learned behaviors and conditions perpetuated by patriarchy. On this day, as I reflect on the power of that fierce love, and how despite the forces of colonization, genocide, and the on-going legacies of endemic violence perpetuated by heteronormative and white supremacist systems of power — We. Are. Still. Here!
On every level of movement building we continue to achieve successes because of the work of our mothers, sisters, brothers who respect the feminine, and our non-binary relatives freeing themselves from the shackles of heteronormativity. May we all honor the fierce feminine that exists inside all of us and around us. May we hold with tenderness the grief and traumas we have inherited from surviving generations of injustice and may we continue to grow in our strength and wisdom to dismantle oppressive structures until we are all free to celebrate the fullness of where we come from, and who we are meant to be.
Thalia Carroll-Cachimuel, Kichwa-Otavalo
Director of Movement & Strategic Partnerships
I hope to pass down the strength of the matriarchs before me by trusting their wisdom and moving with the intention that their knowledge will always guide and protect during moments of uncertainty.
Brandy Calabaza, Jicarilla Apache/Kewa Pueblo
Thinking about my nieces and little sister it is my sincere hope that I pass down to them the power that they house within their spirits. To trust that instinctive voice within themselves and to lean on their ancestors for guidance in times of hardship. I want them to know that they are beautiful inside and out carrying the characteristics of Indigenous women before their time, that their bodies carry so much sacred power to create, to love, and to defend all that they cherish.
Tanaya Winder, Duckwater Shoshone Tribe
Director of People, Culture, & Belonging
Being an Indigenous woman is a gift, and this gift carries with it the responsibility to pass on the strength and ancestral power that lives within our ancestral memory and traditions. To me, my womanhood, sisterhood, and auntiehood means listening to spirit and sharing the resilience of overcoming and becoming who our ancestors always radically envisioned us to be.
To my younger relatives, I hope to pass down words as seeds that take root to empower others to lean into gentleness, kindness, and tenderness. So our people and children know an unending well of love that allows them to continue to transform and be reborn into who Creator destined them to be.