On Hopi Girl Silver and silversmithing: “I wanted to inspire [my sister] to carry on our traditions through any kind of art.”–Cynthia Begay
The Origins of Hopi Girl Silver
Cynthia Begay is Hopi and the brains and talent behind Hopi Girl Silver. Check out her amazing work at www.hopigirlsilver.com.
Cynthia grew up in Bakersfield, CA. During the summers, she would spend time with her family back home. There she watched family members that were silversmiths. When she went to college she would ask “which family member made that for you?” Only to realize that not everyone can get their jewelry from their family members. She was determined to work with silver, but thought she would do it when she retired and could move to the rez.
She is currently in a Master’s program in health (epidemiology research) and plans to pursue her Ph.D.
In this episode we discuss:
- Her solo trips to the rez and the experience of Urban natives trying to engage back home.
- Why college was never a question for Cynthia.
- How seeing health disparities inspired her to pursue a degree in health care to impact her community.
- How she connected to Native American Research Center for Health.
- Four Directions Summer Research Program at Harvard.
- How health research connects directly to community impact.
- How epidemiology (sort of) relates to the zombie apocalypse.
- How something as simple as “the definition of Indian” in policy conversations is more complex than one may think.
- Imposter syndrome and how to battle it.
- How fellow NextGen Native Jared Yazzie helped encourage her to start her business.
- The importance of social media for growing her business.
- Trickster Company.
- How Cynthia balances work, study, and Hopi Girl Silver.
- Cynthia’s passion for travel.
- Shout outs to Beyond Buckskin, Eighth Generation (both NGN interviewees).