Tanaya Winder is a citizen of the Duckwater Shoshone Tribe. She is also Pyramid Lake Paiute, and Southern Ute. She grew up in Ignacio, Colorado, on the Southern Ute Reservation. She describes herself as a writer, artist, manager, and oh yeah, the Director of an Upward Bound program.
As a kid, Tanaya knew she would attend Stanford. She just knew it. Tanaya thought she would become a lawyer, but wanted some exposure to liberal arts while an undergraduate. She applied to other schools, and was admitted to these schools, but ultimately decided to fulfill her goal that she had for years to attend Stanford. There were some moments when the certainty was in question.
After her grandfather passed away while she was in high school, she spent time working at a casino instead of attending school (though she had enough credits). She thought that she would just continue working at the casino until she realized her grandfather would want her to finish her education. When she returned to school, one of the few classes that would allow her to enroll was a creative writing class. Tanaya Winder found the writing helped her through the difficult time after her grandfather’s death.
While attending Stanford, Tanaya eventually switched majors to focus on her creative side. It took time for her to overcome imposter syndrome. After enduring a friend’s suicide, she found that the creative writing continued to help her process her grief. She eventually went on to earn a Master’s of Fine Arts from the University of New Mexico, all the while trying to find her voice as an artist. She did, and now she has a collection of works published in the book Words Like Love.
While attending graduate school she also began working for Upward Bound after a position opened that was too good to pass up. This is where The Hustle emerged. To pay for her tuition she also was teaching at the University of New Mexico. For a while, she was commuting between Albuquerque and Boulder.
After completing her degree, the Director position opened up with Upward Bound and she was able to step into the role at Boulder. She continued her hustle; teaching at the University of New Mexico, and then added a new title to the mix: manager. Tanaya Winder met Frank Waln during a performance at the University of Colorado. They became friends and eventually, he asked her to be his manager. She also now manages Mic Jordan and Tall Paul.
Last but not least, Tanaya Winder, Tall Paul, Mic Jordan, and Frank Waln created Dream Warriors Scholarship to support Native American artists in higher education. It’s awesome to see such a talented person putting all of their energy into the world through a variety of outlets.
Tanaya Winder even performed a piece on the podcast, listen to the episode to hear some of her amazing work.