+SPOTLIGHT | Jessica Lynn Martin
Jessica Lynn Martin
What are your tribe(s): Cayuga Nation, Haudenosaunee Confederacy
Whats your age: 27
Ndn Name: Gahnegiyohsta "Making the water pure"
White Name: Jess Martin
What are the first 3 words that come to mind when you hear the word healing?
Bio/ backstory, tell us what you DO and a bit about how you came to do it.
I play softball - I played Division I softball at Syracuse University, I came to be there because I envisioned myself there when I was 10 years old. I come from a family of ball players. I give a lot of credit to my Kno:ha (mother) for teaching me about how to work hard for what I wanted, even if that meant pitching against a wall outside by myself everyday.
After I completed my education/history degree at SU, I went into a Cayuga immersion program in my home community Six Nations. The goal was to become more proficient in
speaking our language in order to teach it.
After that I decided to pursue a M.A in Indigenous studies from Carleton University. Then I came across an opportunity that would allow me to play softball internationally
in Germany. This was the hardest decision for me to make, but I went. I played and coached for 2 months then returned home.
The short version - my degrees provided a lot of learning opportunities, resources, and networking with new people. However, the most influential times in my life were
when I was able to give back through the game and learn my culture/language in my community.
At the beginning of this year I wrote down goals that I thought were slightly outlandish, because mainstream society attempts to funnel us into education then a career
in an established workplace. I realized I wanted to do something different - I wanted to create my own business of running softball camps for Indigenous communities. That's skill development is one part of it, I have so many unique and fresh ideas that will
help our communities heal starting with the young people. I want to transmit our culture through sports.
Currently: working with the midwives collective in Akwesasne Mohawk community (definitely out of my comfort zone) but I'm helping to provide holistic ways of healing and
growing for families.
How do you heal?
I heal by remembering our stories and making them alive through learning and retelling. Embodying these stories through practice has helped calm the stress of everyday life and also the hectic society that we are inevitably apart of. I always try to share what I know with others, because maybe it will help them heal in some way.
What is your calling rn?
Coaching and playing softball - it's been a wild ride so far, traveling around the world to play, and teaching
ball in all different communities. Sharing my culture and learning from others throughout this process has been very healing all around. My fire burns bright when I do these things.
Do your ancestors affect what you do, how you live? If so, how? Like in what way?
Everyday. They affect how I conduct myself and help to guide me on this path to be able to steer towards our ways and away from distractions like alcohol. Our ways have always been alive in our bodies, in our blood memory, and in the land around us. That's the exciting part about life is learning them. We live in a time now where it's more urgent than ever for us to learn and share with others. I believe that in every teaching and practice is a lesson about healing.
Who are your Mentors/ role models?
My Kno:ha (mother) - for learning our language and working at an elementary school providing support for the immersion program
and the kids/teachers there.
Gaekjihsoh (Our elders in our communities) - they exhibit so much gentleness and patience when working with us to keep our ceremonies and language going.
Gaeksasho:oh (young kids) - they are coming up stronger and stronger in our ways and being proud of who they are. It makes me super happy to work with them.
What inspires/ drives you to keep going?
Our ways are so beautiful and I always have this deep desire to learn everyday.
The fact that our ways are stronger than any trauma or outside entities that try to succumb us.
Witnessing how energy works and how BIG of an impact one person can make
If you could relay a mantra, message, wisdom, ism, food for thought to Indigenous 20 somethings from the
US and abroad what would you say?
Be mindful of all the people you can impact throughout the day.