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.
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.