Are you in the process of creating something? What/Why?
Currently, I am conducting food sovereignty research for my masters thesis and for my tribe, the Red Lake Ojibwe. American Indians suffer from diet-related diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity at higher rates than other ethnic groups. Foods our people consumed prior to European colonization are more nutritious than foods introduced through ration or commodity programs. By helping to document traditional Red Lake foods, the tribe can use this research as a resource to improve the health of our community.
Top 3 podcasts and why?
1) The Moth because of the inspiring stories from people all over the world;
2) Canadian Broadcasting Company’s Missing Murdered shares the whys and hows of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women epidemic.
3) The Candid Frame: A Photography Podcast, which has improved my photography with the interviews from top image-makers who discuss their creative, technical, and business processes.
Best bit of advice you’ve ever received?
Life isn’t about finding yourself; it’s about creating yourself.
What practice keeps you sane right now?
I find if I don’t exercise for a few days, I become moody! Climbing, running, and yoga are my favorite sports to help me decompress and give me happy hormones.
Favorite book(s) for travel/inspiration?
The most inspiring book I’ve read lately is Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot, which takes an in-depth look at the intersections of Indigenous intergenerational trauma, mental illness, blood memory, and family. It is validating to hear her thoughts on loss, love, and identity that so much reflects my own. And literary-wise, the memoir is admirable.
Are you an activist? If so, what are you fighting for and why?
As an Ojibwe woman, I feel it’s my duty to fight for Indigenous peoples’ rights, as well as to protect the land and waters of Turtle Island (aka North America). Recently, I’ve been an activist in protesting the Dakota Access and Enbridge Line 3 pipelines that threaten the waters and everything dependent on water within the Dakotas and Minnesota. Additionally, I fight to protect Bears Ears because it is the only national monument to be co-managed by tribal nations and protects vital cultural heritage, natural resources, and rock climbing areas.
On your dark days, what brings you hope?
The strength of my fellow Native people brings me hope. Our ancestors went through so much trauma, yet there are over 500 tribal nations in the United States that have beautiful and resilient cultures, languages, and people.
Follow Ashleigh @ashanishinaabe