Daniella James | Interview - Issue #4
- Daniella James -
Native America & Hispanic
Which culture or sub-culture did you grow up in? More Traditional Indigenous, Traditional Mexican, Chicano/Lowrider, Reservation, or More American-esque? Or a different culture/sub-culture?
Modern Hispanic, American-esque, and Urban Native.
What are your favorite parts of that culture and community?
Dago'teh. My favorite part of the mixed culture is being open, kind, and respectful to all cultures. In my immediate family's culture, we are happy to interact with all people. The more we learn about other people and their cultures, the better life feels! The second part of the mixed culture is being open to eating all kinds of foods. *chuckle* My favorite part of the Modern Mexican community is being surrounded by strong, lively, and hard-working women. My favorite part of the American-esque culture is being able to understand many cultures with their communication and humor. I feel I get to laugh more because I understand their jokes! Laughing is so good for the body, mind, and well-being.
How did growing up in that culture effect your current style, and point of view of life?
I grew up in a mixed culture of style. My mother's mother was very Hispanic conservative with beautiful white dresses with embroidered flowers. She also wore full-length solid-colored dressed with long sleeves with matching hats. Then, my mother's style was comfortable with feminine tank tops, vibrant red lips, and freely wild hair. It took me quite a time to grow in my confidence. To all people reading this, you will bloom when you are ready. My culture affected my current style by teaching me the approach to how I want to live. I want to enjoy each day with love, happiness, beauty, and comfort. Ha! If you enjoy how you feel on the inside, you will enjoy how you feel on the outside. This includes your mind and your style in life. My point of view on life holds complexity. I am thankful to have been raised in a home the welcome diversity. This has shaped my point of view on life by giving me the foundation to respect all people from all walks of life. People are people. What matters in life includes what your morals are, how you can contribute to your community, and how you maximize each day to the fullest. How do I maximize each day? Well, I love eating. I love slowly tasting healthy food, working out moderately, and slowing down to savor each recognized precious moment. I think American culture moves too quickly. I try to be present, active, and attentive.
As an adult now, have you learned about other Indigenous or Mexican sub-cultures?
Unfortunately, I was not raised with Apache, Navajo, or Spanish languages spoken at home. In my youth, I did not know what my ancestors ate. But guess what? Each person has the power to try, learn, improve, and grow. I took Spanish courses during high school. After that, I re-read my textbooks every summer. Now as an adult, I have been learning Ndeh Biyati' for four years. It is also call San Carlos Apache Tribe language and Souther Athapaskan. With joy, I am learning the language of my father's mother. I'll tell you, I feel so alive! I am entirely thankful, appreciative, and grateful. When I learned that there are Tribal Colleges and Universities, I was thrilled. I feel more connected to accurate history, cultural stories, and pre-colonized foods. How man historical foods do you know? Have you smelled them? Felt them? Tasted them? To me, learning about our food is medicine to my heart! Let's return to what I have learned about subcultures. I learned the historical context of Two Spirit identity from: indigenouspridela.org That term has a few definitions. I identify as Two Spirit from a Native historical lens.
As an indigenous woman, do you mind sharing what tribe(s) you are part of? Did you grow up on the reservation or outside of it.
San Carlos Apache Tribe, Navajo, Mexican. Outside.
Please tell us about the work that you do within your culture(s)'s community. Or the work that you are doing to continue educating yourself or others about your culture(s).
I am part-time business student, tribal college radio intern, and future business owner. For fun, I enjoy sharing Indigenous foods with my college departments, Native networks, friends, and the local community. At the powwows in San Diego, I have shared Indigenous packaged foods with the Native vendors. I stimulate discussion about historical foods by gently asking questions, presenting food stories, sharing food tastes, and listening to lessons from others. At the powwow in Balboa Park, I surprised an elder with the manoomin wild rice. She looked at the rice, stared at me, returned to the rice, and then you could see her mind spark. Her eyes got big. She reached for the rice. Then, her head dropped with a happy sigh. You could see her get pushed into memory. I just waited. I wanted her to enjoy whatever she was thinking. Finally, she slowly stepped forward to me and sweetly held my hand. With awareness, her family approached our gathering. She said, "I had this food about forty years ago in Minnesota." I blinked a few times because I had not shared just yet that it was actually from Minnesota. She knew! Now, her family was reeled in with interest. She shared a story about how she traveled to an area of many lakes, the wonderful time she had with her friends during that time, and the food she ate. You could feel the powerful energy from the story. It was gravitating us all into good energy. We all were learning from each other. One family member jumped in, "I have never heard of this food." The elder continued with another 20 minutes of her food adventures. We had shared knowledge from a long time ago and now. This felt so good! As I work as a tribal college radio intern, I produce, edit, and host shows with topics that I enjoy such as Indigenous foods, global foods, cultural diversity, food science, traditional knowledge, business, plant medicine, academia, and professional development. Each show contains an empowering resource, opportunity, or scholarship. I believe sharing good energy. Right now, the UC System of California is providing waived tuition for Federally enrolled Native Americans. Here is a link to start your research: University of California - Native American Opportunity Plan Now I have the goals to contribute to Indigenous Food Sovereignty, create my own business, obtain a master's degree, and one day become a Chief Executive Office of a prestigious food organization. I believe in goal setting and goal achieving. I have patience, hope, and optimism. Dear read, thank you for reading a little of my story. Ahiyi'e!
Daniella James' Linkedin Dress: San Carlos Apache Traditional Dress by Selina Marie Curley Jewelry: Peridot Jewelry from San Carlos Apache Tribe Members
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Model and Interviewee - Daniella James | Linkedin Dress - San Carlos Apache Traditional Dress by Selina Marie Curley Jewelry - Peridot Jewelry from San Carlos Apache Tribe Members