For decades, indigenous women across Turtle Island have been moving forward, breaking barriers and exceeding expectations for the betterment of Indian Country. However, now is the time that indigenous women come together as one and arise. These indigenous women not only encourage and empower other Native women, but they work together to help one another rise.
Multimedia Mama who is working in mainstream media
In case you don’t know, Alli Joseph is a seasoned on-air host who can be seen hosting Salon.com’s show Salon Talks. A self-professed “City Indian,” she is a child of two worlds: school years in Manhattan, summers and holidays on the Shinnecock reservation with her grandmother. Joseph noticed the lack of indigenous representation in newsrooms across the country. This inspired her to work in media, advocating for minority journalists’ entrepreneurship and career developments to this day. Joseph developed her journalism, branding and marketing skills by working for large media corporations such as NBC Universal, Viacom, AOL, and more. As a reporter and host, Joseph worked across TV, digital and print realms covering entertainment, entrepreneurship, lifestyle, news, tech, and innovation.
Joseph’s words of encouragement to Native women: “Believe in yourself. Look for mentors first in your community – strong women who will support you in your dreams, and push you when you want to give up on what may seem unattainable at times. Confront your fears like they are real things, and overpower them.”
Former Miss Alaska and first Tlingit woman to be in the top 10 of the Miss USA pageant
It’s been years in the making since Alyssa London set out to inspire and empower others. An enrolled member of the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska and is of the Eagle moiety and Killerwhale clan, she participated in her first pageant when she was only 17 years old, where she wore a traditional Tlingit robe. She’s a successful media personality and an entrepreneur whose goal is to promote Native-owned businesses. London also knew it’d take hard work and determination to get to the pageant, which didn’t deter her at all. London saw the Miss Alaska pageant as a platform to make a difference, who used her time in the spotlight to bring attention to a little part of her home community.
London’s words of encouragement to Native women: “Your dreams are never as far out of reach as they seem. Have courage and go towards them with all you got.”
Once helped tribes with economic development and is now running for Congress
Sharice Davids went from living and working on reservations to help tribes create economic development opportunities and speaking at conferences to running for a seat as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. When elected, Davids will be Kansas’ first openly-gay Representative and the nation’s first Native American woman member of Congress. Davids admits she has a great privilege to encourage other Native women. “I have had the opportunity to mentor others, specifically in the law profession,” she explains. “And I am especially proud of the women I have worked with as they applied to colleges and universities. We as a community will rise together as we lift each other up.”
Davids’ words of encouragement to Native women: “Live your truth. You have so much to offer the world, and we have a responsibility to our communities to use our gifts and talents. Don’t shy away from that. Embrace it and take advantage of that opportunity.”
Tribe: Oglala Lakota
@shainacliffordlifestyle / @arielleclifford
Talented sisters who are using their talents to help inspire Native American women
The Clifford sisters are not only beautiful; they’re also intelligent and go-getters. All born and raised on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota, rodeo blood runs in their veins they’re all successful in their respective fields. Shaina Clifford is a self-professed rodeo mom and successfully operates two businesses. Sonyah Clifford is a former Miss Indian Rodeo and Miss Rodeo South Dakota and is currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in marketing from Black Hills State University. Sonyah’s platform during her reign as Miss Rodeo South Dakota was promoting self-confidence in Native American girls. Arielle Clifford graduated from her high school with the most top credits to graduate from her high school ever. She is currently studying at Chadron State College for a bachelor’s in science with a minor in Veterinary Medicine on the Pre-Veterinary track. Arielle’s ultimate goal is to open the first equine clinic on the Pine Ridge reservation.