Meet Native Movement's Summer Intern: Rina Kowalski

This summer, Native Movement hired four interns who are passionate about social and environmental justice and who want to build grassroots organizing and nonprofit management skills. We asked each intern to write a blog post to introduce themselves to the community and are excited to share their introductions with you all!

Today, we are happy to share
Rina Kowalski’s blog post and introduce you to Rina, who is working in our Fairbanks office. Rina’s blog post is the last of a four-part series highlighting our amazing interns.

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I'm Rina Mae Kowalski and I grew up in Anchorage, Alaska. I'm Paiute, from the Northern Nevada region. I was raised by my grandmother who grew up on the Fort McDermitt Paiute-Shoshone reservation in Nevada. I grew up traveling to the reservation from Anchorage every summer to spend time with family. My grandmother raised me to have a strong sense of my Indigenous identity. 

 I’m an artist and a visionary on a journey of self-discovery and cultural healing. In my spare time I enjoy singing, fishing, gathering, writing, painting, hiking, and spending time with friends and family. I currently reside in Fairbanks, Alaska with my two children Livvy and Dax, who both are a great source of inspiration for my activism. My children are both Paiute and Inupiaq. Because of my children, I feel very passionate about fighting for and protecting Alaska Native cultures. 

 I have always been outspoken about the various issues we face in our community. As a proud pansexual gender-fluid person, I’m heavily involved in LGBTQ2+ activism in my local community and the empowerment of LGBTQ2+ youth. 

 Another focus I’ve had this year has been on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. This past January, I created an MMIW workshop for the Women’s March that focused on the various injustices Indigenous people face that contribute to MMIW. My work didn’t stop there, I went on to be the lead organizer for the MMIWG Rally/March on May 5, 2019, in Fairbanks, which is the National Day of MMIW Awareness. It was important to me to have as much community support as possible. I didn’t want to just focus on the disheartening statistics, I wanted to uplift my community as well by coming together. With all these aspects, we had a beautiful event. Our community walked away feeling bonded in this struggle and our allies were and continue to be supportive of us. I’m proud of everyone in our community who stepped up to be there, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous. 

 I’m so honored to be part of the Native Movement team. With my passion for fighting against systemic injustices, this summer, I will focus on starting an Indigenous Lives Matter movement here in Fairbanks. At Native Movement, we have a team of Indigenous women leading this movement. We plan to introduce our work focused on Indigenous Lives at the Midnight Sun Intertribal Powwow, July 12 – 14. Our focus will be on community education, Indigenous safety and empowerment, mental health awareness, cultural healing, and direct action. I feel empowered by Native Movement’s support and seeing our vision come to reality. I’m proud and excited to be working alongside some of the most badass and amazing women I’ve ever met.

Meet Native Movement's Summer Intern: Birk Albert

To start the week off, we are highlighting Fairbanks Intern, Birk Albert. Birk is one of four interns working at Native Movement this summer and we are happy to have him as part of the team!

The summer interns at Native Movement are passionate about social and environmental justice and are interested in building grassroots organizing and nonprofit management skills. We hope you enjoy reading their blogs as much as we do!

Stay tuned for our last feature, coming later this week.

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I’m Birk Albert, named for the birch tree, which provides the warmth needed in Interior Alaska’s winters. Birch is a hardwood which bends to form snowshoes my dad builds as well as sleds and other tools essential for life in the Interior. My Alaskan roots grow deep as my paternal grandparents are Phillip Albert Sr. of Kokrines and Justine Demoski of Nulato. My father, George, is the last active snowshoe maker of our people and a practitioner of all the subsistence skills one needs to survive in the Interior. My mother, Eileen, found her way from the west to live in Alaska almost twenty years and is the reason I exist carrying not just Koyukon Athabascan roots but the complicated legacy of the ‘Mayflower mix.’ 

I was raised along the Yukon River in Ruby, Alaska until age twelve when my parents decided I would be better prepared for college if I finished my education at a larger public school. I flew alone that first year to Lake Placid, New York. My uncle helped me with my transition to a school three times larger than in my village. I adapted and thrived. I took up soccer, Nordic skiing, track and community involvement with a slideshow about the immoral impacts on rural subsistence lifestyles by climate change. In Ruby, I grew up in a log home with only wood heat and no plumbing. In my new home, I took daily showers and enjoyed life in the Lower 48, although I missed my Alaskan home and family, I trusted I was preparing for my future.

I’m entering my third year at Wells College in Aurora, New York as a history major. This summer I’m back in Alaska to visit my family and work for Native Movement through First Alaskans Institute’s Summer Internship Program. I recently returned from the Society of American Indian Government Professionals conference youth training. In the past, I was lucky to serve as a United National Indian Tribal Youth inc as an Earth Ambassador and a 25 Under 25 honoree. I was also a White House Tribal Nations Conference youth delegate.

I have collected donated books to fill a Ruby Little Free Library which my father built. I hope this new project I created for Fresh Tracks which is a program through the Center for Native American Youth and the Aspen Institute will educate and inspire the youth and elders of Ruby to live in balance. The land where my home village sits was “Tlaa’ologhe’” for thousands of years before it was misnamed by miners for rubies which were never found in our streams. Yet, we had garnets and the riches of our natural food, our lands, waters, and culture to sustain us for millennia. Native peoples traditionally were grounded in reality and many of us still are. We have the obligation to protect what sustains all life even as we interact in the larger world. I’m grateful to be home and assisting in the important work of Native Movement.

Meet Native Movement's Summer Intern: Amaya Shaw

This summer, Native Movement hired four interns who are passionate about social and environmental justice and who want to build grassroots organizing and nonprofit management skills. We are excited to introduce you to a group of highly driven and skilled individuals through blog pieces.

Today, we are highlighting Amaya Shaw, who is working in our Anchorage community organizing space and office. Wondering who the other interns are? Follow our blog, we are looking forward to highlighting two more wonderful individuals!


Shoozhrì’ Amaya Shaw oozhįį. Tseeduu ts’a’ Gwichyaa Zhee gwats’an ihłįį. Shahan Rochelle Adams ts’a’ shahan viyehghan naįį Angela Peter-Mayo ts’à’ Cliff “Tuffy” Adams Jr. goovoozhrì’. My name is Amaya Shaw and I am Gwich’in Athabascan from Beaver and Fort Yukon, in the Northern Interior of Alaska. My mother is Rochelle Adams, and her parents are Angela Peter-Mayo and the late Cliff Adams Jr. My traditional name is Too Aht’sin which means night rain and has the same meaning as my given name Amaya, which comes from the Japanese side of my family.

Currently, I am living in Anchorage since my recent graduation from the Interior Distance Education of Alaska homeschooling program. I have worked with my mother Rochelle Adams on many projects to gain and share knowledge of our traditional arts and language. 

As I come from a matriarchal bloodline, I feel right at home with these powerful women running Native Movement. Every day I strive to uphold my traditional values with everything I do, and Native Movement helps me to continue my shared vision of environmental and social justice for our Indigenous peoples and lands. It makes me very happy to see organizations like Native Movement making a change in our communities so gracefully in a direct, positive, and informative way.

Some of my favourite things to do include making digital and traditional arts, learning new languages, gardening, playing with my dogs, and reading/writing poetry. A major interest of mine resides in our traditional medicines and our traditional healing. I love to ask questions and learn more about our many uses for all surrounding resources from my home in the Yukon Flats and our many other regions.  

Meet Native Movement's Summer Intern: Rachael Qimalleq Teter

This summer, Native Movement hired four interns who are passionate about social and environmental justice and who want to build grassroots organizing and nonprofit management skills. We are excited to introduce you to a group of highly driven and skilled individuals through blog pieces.

Today, we are highlighting Rachael Qimalleq Teter, who is working in our Fairbanks office. Wondering who the other interns are? Follow our blog! We will be sharing new short introductions written by each intern in the next couple of weeks.

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My name is Rachael Qimalleq Teter. I’m Yup’ik from St. Mary’s, Alaska and currently live in Fairbanks, Alaska where I study math at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. I’m on my way to becoming a high school teacher. My goal is to be a positive role model for those who are underrepresented in their fields. I hope to be an advocate, to share concerns to politicians and to also efficiently communicate politics to the concerned.

I’m excited to be working alongside and to learn from the strong team of women at Native Movement who are advocating for healthy communities. The values Native Movement was built upon are values I aspire to carry out every day.  As a Yup’ik woman in the STEM field, I’m often surrounded by many who don’t share my background or experiences. At Native Movement, I feel a sense of belonging amongst the team. Knowing that we are all working for our people and come from a place of shared experiences is empowering on so many levels.

Apart from school, I’m involved in various organizations dedicated to strengthening our Alaska Native peoples and aim to be a positive role model for future generations. In my spare time, I enjoy beading, dancing, and adventuring. Overall, I hope to continue learning and stay grounded in identity and Indigenous values.


International Women's Day 2019

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March 8 is International Women’s Day. This day celebrates the cultural, social, economic, and political achievements of women around the world. According to the United Nations, the first International Women’s Day was observed in the United States on February 28, 1909. 

International Women’s Day is about coming together, celebrating the women in our lives—past and present, reflection, advocacy and action—globally and locally. 

Native Movement celebrates the women who have helped make this world a better place for everyone. We also recognize the missing and murdered Indigenous women and the missing and murdered transgender women of color and gender nonconforming sisters who have gone too soon. There is a common thread between the two communities and a need to advocate for the safety, strength, and wellness of women, especially the most vulnerable—Indigenous women, transgender women of color and gender nonconforming femmes

We hope today inspires you to take action to make your community a safer and more welcoming space for Indigenous and transgender women and gender nonconforming femmes every day. We ask that you honor and recognize the missing and murdered Indigenous and transgender women of color and gender nonconforming femmes.

Not sure what you can do? Volunteer or donate to a local nonprofit that supports the women in our lives, speak up against hate and discrimination, vote for local leaders from underrepresented communities, and teach your family to uplift the women around you. 

We compiled a short list of Alaska organizations and a few national organizations to consider supporting and connecting with. 

 ·    AWARE,

 ·    Alaska Native Women’s Resource Center,

 ·    Gender Pioneers,

 ·    Identity,

·     Transgender Leadership Alaska,

·     Native Peoples Action,

·     Trans Lifeline,

·     Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest & Hawai’I,

#indigenouswomenrise #transisbeautiful #mmiw #stoptransmurders #stoptransphobia

What’s Missing from #MeToo and #TimesUp: One Indigenous Woman’s Perspective

Collaborative artwork by Christi Belcourt and Isaac Murdoch

Collaborative artwork by Christi Belcourt and Isaac Murdoch

Written By Princess Daazhraii Johnson 

As I have watched the national dialogue unfold around sexual harassment and sexual violence, I can’t help but take notice of the lack of tie in to a much larger picture: namely, how men have abused their power to dominate and inflict violence upon not only women (and women of color in particular), but our Mother Earth. And they absolutely are related.

The roots of colonization and patriarchy in the Americas, included the strategy of stealing lands from Indigenous peoples, inflicting violence and domination over women, and further exploiting those lands for monetary gain. But this is not some distant past — it is happening at an alarming rate today. Both the land, water, and Indigenous women have been ‘othered’ and devalued in our society. Native American women are 2.5 times more likely to experience sexual assault and rape than any other ethnic group and the unsolved cases of Murdered & Missing Indigenous Women (#MMIW) are staggering. Extractive industries play a major role in this violence and I encourage you to visit for a report and toolkit on how to support these resistance efforts. Another resource on MMIW community-led work is at It Starts With Us.

This patriarchal worldview of how we relate to Mother Earth and to the non-human is so toxic that academics are referring to it as a new epoch — the Anthropocene. Under a patriarchal, colonialist mindset we find ourselves consuming and polluting the natural resources of our Mother Earth at a rate that is exasperating climate change and threatening life on this planet. Yes, TIME. IS. UP. Time is up for unjust patriarchal systems. Period.

It was empowering to see the Time’s Up Movement intentionally elevate the voices of women of color, immigrant women, and lesbian, bisexual, and transgender women at the Golden Globes — including having Suquamish Tribal Member, Calina Lawrence, speak out on MMIW.

The creator of the #MeToo movement, Tarana Burke, had this to say: “Sexual violence knows no race, class or gender, but the response to sexual violence absolutely does,” she told TIME last fall. “Until we change that, any advancement that we make in addressing this issue is going to be scarred by the fact that it wasn’t across the board.”

Let us include the voice of our Mother Earth in this dialogue — because as I write this our oceans and lands are being polluted by oil — look here (if you dare) for the most recent catastrophe in the East China Sea. As we seek social justice we must seek environmental justice. The Trump Administration has opened up places like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling and all of our coastal communities are once again threatened by offshore oil development.

Business as usual isn’t working for the world, so we must change it all from the ground up. The challenge before us is not insurmountable, but we cannot build movements on superficial or extractive relationships. We must do the hard work of taking into consideration our various backgrounds and experiences and we must educate ourselves as much as possible as we come together to organize and remind ourselves it’s okay to feel uncomfortable and misunderstandings are bound to happen but it is how we react to those challenges that give us the possibility of building greater unity. Ask first how can we be of service? There are so many grassroots organizations that are doing meaningful work and there’s so much we can do — volunteer, uplift marginalized voices, donate our time and/or money to these organizations, and by all means play an active role in creating a better relationship with one another and with all life on Mother Earth!

Artwork by  Erin Marie Konsmo