Sarah Hernandez | Interview - Issue #2
Updated: Dec 12, 2022
- Sarah Hernandez -
44 - American Indian
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?
My Dad's people are of the Yaqui Tribe both on the American and Mexican side, so I mark American Indian. My moms side is Spanish and Native. I grew up on and off the Reservation. Our reservation is in Arizona and I reside in California, so I am lucky enough to have rented on the Viejas Indian Reservation. I believe I am considered an Urban Indian in local lingo. My sons and their families have exposed us to even broader horizons. My older son is a local Tribal Member to San Diego from the Mesa Grande Reservation (Kumeyaay/Diegueno). My younger son is a Tribal Member to the Nez Perce Tribe in Lapwai, Idaho. We have lived and shared lives with many. Learned so many different Native Traditions and languages.
What are your favorite parts of that culture and community?
I love the sound of the Drum. I have been drawn to it my whole life. I lead an all women's native drum called Mending Feathers. I love to sing. I love to drum. I love to pray to Creator in song. The Gathering and Sharing we do as a people around the drum is that of our beauty. I feel my ultimate best at Gatherings and Powwows. I feel whole at the drum.
How did growing up in that culture effect your current style, and point of view of life?
My culture effected many points in life. I was exposed to racism at a young age growing up in a predominately white small town. Most American Indian kids were in Special Education, even though we functioned at regular levels. I now sit on that Committee for American Indian Education and have been the Chair for many years. I felt my children should not have to feel that same difference. So I stepped up as their voice. I have a very open mind and I have educated myself in many ways. I love all people and all cultures.
As an adult now, have you learned about other Indigenous or Mexican/Other sub-cultures?
Working in Native Programs most of my adult life, I have got to experience the Urban and Reservation side of life. I know many people from many tribes and I have made a purpose in helping them all grow. I get some of my greatest strengths from elders I worked beside. They have literally paved my path. Some are with our Ancestors now, and some are still walking among us. Randy Edmonds (Kiowa/Caddo), Jim (Lakota) and Jill (Hoopa) Warne, Arvella Hunter (Arikara).
What are your favorite parts of that culture and community?
All the beautiful people I have met along the journey of life. I have met many from different Tribes and areas. All in different phases of life. I met the ones who were never exposed to their culture and have needed direction on where to go to learn. I have met those with lifetimes of deep culture of their own. Everyone you meet will teach you something. The love of sharing with another is my absolute favorite part of our Culture.
How has it effected your style and point of view of life now?
I love everything about the Native Women Style. The ribbon skirts, the beautiful regalia they dance in. The jewelry hand made. Beads are my diamonds. I love beads. Silver and more Silver. All of this has become art. I honor each Artist who takes the time to do theirs. My soon to be Fiancé knows my love, and puts thought into the gifts he buys. My favorite is my Montana Silversmith Feather set. It just gleams of beauty. My point of view on life is to keep learning. I want to learn and love all people. My sons are gifts from Creator. I believe they chose me to be their Mother. I do my best to love and care for them, as well as all the children around us. I also honor my Elders. I take time to listen. Their words have strength. My Dad has been my saving grace my whole life. My mom holds a special place in my heart. The Elders around me have guided me to be myself. I push education and self growth at an advocacy level to all our people. They are powerful tools.
As an indigenous woman, do you mind sharing what tribe(s) you are part of?
My family comes from both side of the border within the Pascua Yaqui Tribe. They are alive and well in Arizona and along the Sonoran River in Mexico.
Did you grow up on the reservation or outside of it?
Both. I have lived on and off the reservation. I currently reside on the Viejas Indian Reservation in San Diego County. I rent a house here from a beautiful family I am closely connected to.
How did growing up on or off the reservation impact your relationship with your indigenous roots/culture?
Living on and off broadened many horizons. It is a huge world out there. I have traveled to so many different Tribal Communities in the US. I feel very fortunate to be outgoing and I love to learn everyones cultures and traditions.
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 feel like education is power. I have been through National University. I have done credentialed programs with Northwestern Indian College and the New York University Music Essentials Program. I enjoy learning. I have worked in the WIA and WIOA Native Workforce Programs. The Tribal Vocational Rehabilitation Programs I worked for were so meaningful to the people who need them. I am the Current Chair for Alpine School District American Indian Education. I created the Natives in Recovery, Inc. Program and hosted so many events surround the recovery of alcohol and drugs. I hold strong to my 18 years clean, and am honored to help others looking for a better way of life. Wherever Creator needs me, I listen to the calling. Whatever help to heal and strengthen my family, is where my heart is. Thank you for the opportunity.
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Model and Interviewee - Sarah Hernandez | @yaquigirl
Editor in Chief - Alvinita Gonzales Production Assistant - Berlinda Gomez Photography and Videography - Alvinita Gonzales