Why did we choose to do more than survive?
We recognized the problem of ‘agenda setting’ very early in our lives, but only recently found the courage to attempt to do something about it. Our interest truly took form in February 2016, when we lamented the fact that many of our peers seemed unwilling, or unable, to challenge the current climate on what counts as knowledge, and what constitutes a legitimate idea. We also recognized, and were increasingly alarmed, that our traditional knowledge systems were being dismissed as ineffective or otherwise irrelevant to contemporary challenges. After attending Change Labs last October, we decided to collaborate and accept the responsibility to make our communities better – believing that our separate talents could combine to improve the world.
We have individually attempted to address agenda setting concerns on our own. Michael was trained to answer research questions from an academic perspective, publishing multiple articles (which are locked behind pay walls) and two books: ‘Indigenous Sovereignty in the 21st Century: Knowledge for the Indigenous Spring’ and ‘Guided By The Mountains: Navajo Political Philosophy and Governance’. The problem being that only those that are trained to understand his findings (i.e. other academics) may find his work useful. It also means that only those enrolled in his courses may hear the message. Often times, academic research is read only by peers, and few of these peers work in places where they can impact change in Indigenous communities. YKD works to break the chains of agenda setting, by making knowledge accessible to Indigenous community members.
Adrian has supported the ideas and the visions of individuals and organizations, such as the Navajo Women’s Energy Project, Eagle Energy, the Native American Business Incubator Network, and the Rezilience Indigenous Arts Experience, to merge creativity, culture and entrepreneurship. Her efforts to lend an Indigenous Environmental Feminist lens has been embraced by many, but has been disregarded and defunded due to non-Indigenous agenda setting practices and interests. We have learned that in order to support an Indigenous agenda, build out Indigenous ideas, and positively affect Indigenous communities, we need to take the reigns and become agenda setters. We need to set the priorities and not let funders, or outside parties, do so on our behalf. We understand our own challenges best, therefore we are in the best position to provide solutions in the form of education and knowledge dissemination.
In the past, we were the victims of genocide. Then, we survived. Now, we are thriving in the Indigenous Spring. It is time to enter into the Indigenous Renaissance!