2019: A Look Back at the Year
Our 30th anniversary year has been an extraordinary one… please enjoy this walk through the seasons with us as we reflect on some of the highlights of this past year.
Your support is essential to us continuing this much needed work. We welcome your year-end gift and thank you for growing Beloved Community alongside us. Make an online donation here, or mail your check payable to Tewa Women United to:
Tewa Women United
PO Box 397
Santa Cruz, NM 87567
Organized by a coalition of gender justice activists, organizations, and community members, including our friends at the Three Sisters Collective and New Mexico Women.org, the January 19 Santa Fe Women’s March centered voices of Indigenous women and non-binary relatives of color. TWU’s executive director Dr. Corrine Sanchez was featured as a speaker; in this video she reminds us of centuries of resistance and that the current women’s wave of power has been built on the shoulders of our ancestors.
Photo: Elder Kathy Sanchez offers an opening prayer at the March
2019 Legislative Session
The 2019 New Mexico Legislative Session ran from January to mid March. Throughout that time, we followed a number of bills closely that relate to our work of ending violence against women, girls, and Mother Earth. There were some notable victories, including the establishment of a task force to address the issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and the passage of SB 227, the Non-Discrimination Equality Act. Additionally, we were able to mobilize more than 1,500 of your signatures on a petition that convinced the Governor to veto seed preemption language inserted in the state budget by lobbyists, thereby protecting seed sovereignty in New Mexico. Read our “2019 Legislative Wrap Up”
Photo: Beata Tsosie-Peña delivering petition signatures to the Governor’s office.
Española Healing Foods Oasis featured in YES! Magazine
The Española Healing Foods Oasis, a project of our Environmental Health and Justice Program, was featured in Yes! Magazine. The article described the mycoremediation process using mushroom mycelium to detoxify soil. Great thanks to Kaitlin Bryson for helping us make this innovative project happen!
Yiya Vi Kagingdi Community Doula Training’s First Graduates
On March 23 at a benefit event called “Birthing Beloved Community,” we celebrated the first cohort of graduates of our Yiya Vi Kagingdi Community Doula Training, as well as many of the people who have been an important part of the project for the past decade.
The 15 women in this first cohort came from diverse communities in Northern New Mexico. Throughout the course of seven months, these women gathered to learn from those who came before them, from each other, and those that will come after them. Training topics covered included Grounding in Community Care, Fertility and Preconception, Pregnancy, Childbirth, Postpartum, and Early Parenting.
Española Healing Foods Oasis Opens for Fourth Season
At the end of April, we opened a new season in the garden on a beautiful spring day. The day began with blessings, then participants helped to take care of the garden, cultivate the ground, and put in new plants (including a new fiber arts section, with plants to be used for dyes). We also learned about the Española Seed Library Project.
Now in its fourth season, the EHFO continues to be a powerful vehicle for growing Beloved Community and addressing climate change as we bring people together to learn about Native plants and traditional dry-land farming techniques.
Elder Kathy Sanchez Named As Spirit Aligned Fellow
In May, Elder Kathy Sanchez, one of TWU’s co-founders and beloved Saya, was named as one of this year’s Spirit Aligned fellows. She joined seven other extraordinary Indigenous women elders for a three-year, co-creative fellowship to strengthen their sisterhood and share their life teachings in self-determined legacy plans.
Katsi Cook (Mohawk Nation), director of the program, said, “We are honored and excited to welcome these eight remarkable women to Spirit Aligned. Individually and collectively, they embody Indigenous sisterhood and connection to ancestral ways that open paths to healing for our global world. Each has achieved an appreciation for a meaningful life.”
TWU Stands Up for Reproductive Rights in New Mexico and Beyond
Despite the hard fought advocacy work of many groups, including Tewa Women United, lawmakers failed to pass House Bill 51, also known as the “Decriminalizing Abortion” bill, during the winter legislative session. HB 51 would have ensured that abortion access would remain legal in the state of New Mexico and that our doctors and families would be protected in the event that Roe v. Wade is overturned.
Jessica Garcia-Lujan, program manager of our Indigenous Women’s Health and Reproductive Justice Program, wrote: “Tewa Women United has always trusted our families to make the decisions needed around their own reproductive experiences…We know the importance of protecting body sovereignty and personal decision making and will continue to use our voices and power to protect our inherent reproductive rights.” Read TWU’s full statement, written by Jessica.
A’Gin Summer Youth Program
TWU’s A’Gin Project addresses issues of body sovereignty and personal empowerment for all stages of life. Healthy relationships are based on positive self-esteem and relationship dynamics with shared power and control.
The 2019 Summer Program provided three weeks of events and activities for tribal youth, including a fantastic day on the water learning Pueblo flyfishing, and a day in Albuquerque with a special visit from Congresswoman Deb Halaand.
Standing With Bears Ears
Elder Kathy Sanchez and Beata Tsosie-Peña of TWU’s Environmental Health and Justice Program were at Bears Ears for a July weekend gathering organized by Utah Diné Bikéyah. Here’s an excerpt from an article in The Salt Lake Tribune:
“… Beata Tsosie of the Santa Clara Pueblo in New Mexico compared the genetic memories of plants with her first trip to Bears Ears National Monument several years ago. Corn, she explained, adapts to a place where it is grown year after year, so that each seed carries localized memories into the next planting season.
When she saw Bears Ears, [Beata] recalled standing at an overlook above the landscape where her ancestors lived and feeling waves of emotion wash over her. ‘It felt like my genetic memory had been activated,’ said Tsosie, who works with the group Tewa Women United to address environmental contamination through traditional knowledge. ‘It was like we had come home.’”
Nathana Bird Named as TWU Associate Director
In June, Nathana Bird assumed the position of Associate Director, working closely alongside executive director Dr. Corrine Sanchez. As Tewa Women United celebrates its 30th anniversary, this move supports longevity and sustainability, and keeps TWU rooted in Tewa communities.
Nathana, from Ohkay Owingeh and Kewa Pueblo, brings many gifts to this leadership position: more than a decade of service to TWU, analytical and organizing skills, compassion, a strong grounding in community and culture, and a deep commitment to young people and their development.
Second Annual Bounce Back/Regeneration
September brought the second iteration of the Bounce Back/Regeneration Festival, a daylong celebration of our community’s young people and their resilience.
This year’s Bounce Back at Valdez Park in downtown Española focused on food and seed sovereignty and featured a panel discussing the topic. Featured local bands included ADHD, Lindy Vision, Snot Goblin, Macchiato Music, and Silence.
Española City Council Passes Anti-GMO Ordinance
On October 8, the Española City Council unanimously passed a resolution in support of seed sovereignty and traditional agriculture, and in opposition to genetically-engineered seeds.
Tewa Women United Environmental Health and Justice Program Coordinator Beata Tsosie-Pena presented the resolution to the Council along with Marian Naranjo of Honor Our Pueblo Existence. The resolution is a continuation of work from the New Mexico Food and Seed Sovereignty Alliance, who collaborated on drafting the original declaration, a document that is crucial in establishing a foundation for New Mexico’s agricultural future.
So Many Things to Celebrate!
Finally, autumn brought a series of celebrations of Tewa Women United’s 30th anniversary. The celebration began with a free community meal at the Poeh Center during our annual Gathering for Mother Earth in September, this year again honoring the waters which give us all life.
On October 10, TWU was one of the beneficiaries of a beautiful concert by Buffy Sainte-Marie (organized by our friends at Indigenous Solutions). And finally on October 14, we gathered at the Governor’s Mansion in Santa Fe for a beautiful evening of poetry, music, and Indigenous food prepared by Chef Ray Naranjo. A special surprise guest appearance by Gloria Steinem capped off a wonderful evening.
Also in October, Tewa Women United was named as the recipient of the Courageous Innovation Award by the Santa Fe Community Foundation, part of the Foundation’s annual Piñon Awards. This particular award honors an organization that uses a bold approach to solve a persistent problem in the community.
We are deeply grateful to all of you who have helped make this such an extraordinary year. Together we are growing Beloved Community in the Tewa homelands and beyond.
We wish you and your loved ones the very best as 2019 comes to a close.
Un bi a’agin di, Go’odah di kaginundi
(With respectfulness, thank you for helping us)