On this episode, I share some of these updates with a segment I call NextGen Natives in the News. This is a mini roundup of things I’ve come across recently that I think is worth sharing with NextGen Natives.
Jared Yazzie with his “Native Americans Discovered Columbus” design, was recently in the news.
NextGen Native has been around about a year and a half. In that time, we’ve heard stories from many amazing people in Indian Country. The fun part about building this network of NextGen Natives is to see the amazing things that previous guests continue to do, and learn about cool things that others are doing who are good candidates to get on the show. Continue reading →
Kraynal Alfred is Navajo. Originally from Tuba City, she moved around as a child. She spent time both in Oakland, CA and Atlanta, GA. Eventually she attended Georgia State University. She’s worked for the National Congress of American Indians, National Indian Health Board, the Speaker of the Navajo Nation, and currently at the Native American Political Leadership Program.
As a recipient of various programs, Kraynal now gets to give back. Kraynal has been able to develop the Native American Political Leadership Program. The program recently launched the Richard M. Milanovich Fellowship. The fellowship is named after the former long-time Chairman of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. To learn more about the fellowship, listen to the article and check out the website (below). Continue reading →
“If it takes an hour to go to the nearest ATM, banking isn’t really on your horizon as a job option”— Jackson Brossy
Jackson Brossy is on a mission. First, his passion to serve his people of the Navajo Nation is strong. Second, his passion for economic development across Indian Country is part of a wave making our communities a stronger place to live.
Jourdan grew up in Fruitland, NM. Sports played a big role in her life as a child. She played soccer and volleyball. One came naturally, as Jourdan’s mother was a volleyball coach. Soccer was completely foreign to her and her first practice she showed up in tennis shoes and denim shorts.
Jourdan Bennett-Begaye, one of the creators of Survival of the First Voices Festival
Both experiences are great learning environments. In one, you have access to knowledge, mentors, and opportunity. In the other, you are in an environment unfamiliar to you, you are uncomfortable, you have to open yourself to learning and growth and being comfortable being uncomfortable. I think access to structure, mentors and resources, as well as discomfort are critical to development and success. People can succeed with one or the other, but combined experiences are really springs to success.
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Jourdan eventually focused on volleyball full time. She played club volleyball, traveled many hours each week to practices and tournaments. It even allowed her to travel to Australia, opening Jourdan up the world of travel. Continue reading →
Jaynie Parrish is Navajo and the principal of Parrish Digital. You can find Parrish Digital on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Jaynie grew on Navajo Nation but moved to Phoenix to live with her dad for high school. They ended up helping each other out during this time, but you have to listen to the episode to learn how!
Jaynie utilized and participated in different programs in high school and college (and beyond). We discuss the impact these programs have on individuals. I know I definitely would not have the opportunities I’ve experienced without the programs that I was able to utilize, and Jaynie thinks the same is true for her.
One thing that stands out about Jaynie’s experience is the importance of mentors in a person’s life and career. While at ASU, Jaynie met Dr. Petersen Zah. A fellow Navajo, he mentored Jaynie and other Native students at the university. This mentorship while she was a student lasted beyond her time in school. Eventually Dr. Zah encouraged Jaynie to apply for a job with the Navajo Nation Washington Office (Jaynie was in DC for an internship with National Public Radio). Over time, she moved back to Arizona and ended up working for Dr. Zah at the university for seven years. Continue reading →
Jared Yazzie is Diné and the owner of OXDX Clothing. He also happens to be the brother of previous NextGen Native guest and NASA engineer, Aaron Yazzie.
Jared Yazzie with his “Native Americans Discovered Columbus” design.
Jared went to the University of Arizona on a full ride scholarship to study engineering. But after a few years, he realized that path was not for him. Jared left the university and enrolled at Pima Community College. He would transition into arts. During this time he started to sell shirts out of his car trunk. This is where the hustle of what would become OXDX began.
The Beginning of OXDX
After college Jared went to work for a screen print shop. He continued to design and print his own shirts. On the weekends, Jared traveled to the reservation to sell his merchandise. He found that while he was onto something, not everyone was supportive. Jared had to learn how to listen to negative feedback while not internalizing it.
Originally, Jared’s company was called Overdose. The name was taken from a lyric in Lupe Fiasco’s “Baba Says Cool for Thought” where a line warns not to “overdose on the cool.” Jared found the lyrics resonated with his experience moving from the rez to a city where there was potential to overdose on everything a city has to offer. Overtime, Overdose evolved into OXDX and the name has stuck ever since.
Another design is making a resurgence after Bobby Wilson of the 1491s wore a “Mis-Rep” shirt on The Daily Show during a segment about the R******s. That particular shirt is an homage to the Misfits, one of the Yazzie brothers’ favorite punk bands, combined with a message about misappropriation.
Yazzie is working to build his brand into something much bigger than it is currently. He wants it to be more than just a t-shirt company, and he wants it to be recognized beyond just Native communities. He is grinding to get to this point, and he is close to being able to do OXDX full time. But for now he is putting in long hours working both his day job and then doing OXDX afterwards.
This was a great conversation that ran the gamut of shifting focus, grinding to build a business, utilizing other Native companies, supporting other Native artists, and remaining true to oneself and their vision. Be sure to check out the entire episode.
Nikke Alex is Dine. It was awesome to get to speak with another former WINS intern on the podcast, and to see what all of us are doing TEN YEARS LATER! She is currently a third-year law student at the University of New Mexico. She is also a self-described nerd. And when you listen to her story, you understand that it is an awesome/honest assessment! Continue reading →
Aaron Yazzie’s journey began on the Navajo Nation where he excelled as a student. His mother, a teacher, and his father, an engineer, emphasized education from an early age. Aaron knew that college was in his future. But even as a gifted student, he doubted whether he was “good enough” to get into the schools he wanted to get into.
In high school Aaron attended College Horizons (and Upward Bound, too), a program for Native American high school students. The organization exposes Native students to college and vise versa. Aaron met someone from Stanford University, who encouraged him to apply to Stanford. Even with good grades, a drive for school, and encouragement by university staff, he was not confident he would be admitted. Thankfully, Aaron was only suffering from imposter syndrome, and was able to enroll at Stanford.
Aaron Yazzie studied mechanical engineering while at Stanford. He also lived at the Native American house on campus. Although gifted academically, Aaron found he had to work harder at Stanford, and that the competition was stiff.Continue reading →
Clara Pratte is currently Interim CEO of Nova Corporation. The company is owned by Navajo Nation, of which Clara is a citizen. Clara’s ascension is impressive in its own right. But it becomes even more impressive and inspiring when you hear her full story.
Clara’s success serves as proof that challenges can be overcome. Clara’s path in college was not a “traditional” linear four years. It included a transfer to a new school and a three-month cross-country road trip. On a whim she took a public policy course in college which led to her moving away from home to pursue a Master’s degree at Carnegie Mellon. This led to a prestigious Presidential Management Fellowship and eventually to her current role as Interim CEO.
There are two key takeaways from this conversation: setting goals can keep you focused and motivated; and taking risks is an important part of personal and professional growth. I won’t give too much away on those points (make sure to hear it straight from Clara on the podcast!), but these traits have shaped Clara’s path.
I will expand on the subject of risk, so that this point is not misunderstood. The risk should not be haphazard, however. It should be done when an individual is prepared and is ready to grow. It is not about starting a career in finance after working as a teacher, with no transition plan, for example. It is taking the new job that will stretch your existing skill set. It is moving across the country to enroll in a graduate program. It is calculated risk that will yield significant rewards.
It was a great conversation with Clara. And for those of you that need some extra motivation (difficult to need after listening to Clara), she is one half of a couple that does more (including training for a 100 mile race) before I usually wake up. Joe, Clara’s husband, was featured on the podcast last year. It is awesome to see a NextGen Native power couple doing great things in Indian Country!
Eddie Sherman is Omaha and Navajo. He currently lives in Portland, Oregon with his NextGen Native wife and family. He and his wife are both active not only in the Native community but also are active in the broader community.
Eddie works to advance equity issues in the greater area. He uses the network and skills he has developed over the years to benefit this broader community. He has taken part in several programs and fellowships that help him with his work with different nonprofit organizations such as the National Indian Child Welfare Association and now at his own consulting firm, Against the Current