+ SPOTLIGHT | Keya Clairmont



What are your tribes:
Sicangu Lakota/Sisseton Dakota/Taos Pueblo/Leech Lake Ojibwe/Meskwaki
Age: 24


Ta Oyate Iyucupi Waciyan Win “Makes People Happy Through Her Dancing”, Keya Trujillo-Clairmont

What are the first three words that come to mind when you hear the word healing?

Ehate: Laughter, Iyahe: Movement , lakotuyapi: Language

Laughter, movement and language are the first words that come to mind. Whether it is laughing and talking with my boyfriend and family or finding new music that I can dance to or hearing my grandpa speak in our language. It is true that in our stories and teachings that laughter can heal and help develop positive thinking. Speaking and conversing seems to be a lost skill that I myself have had to deal with. As native people, we are not meant to be stagnant and without movement we develop physical and mental diseases. It is important for me know that if I danced or have done some type of cardio throughout the day then I have put effort in. My body and mind experience an automatic uplift when I hear or speak our indigenous languages. I feel that even if my steps to further my knowledge of my language are small I know it is better than not trying at all. Language is key to who we are as indigenous people. We have been stripped of who we really are. It is up to us as individuals to keep our ancestral teachings alive. Yes it is hard. Yes it hurts, but we are worth more than we were made to believe. That is something that I wish I could make every indigenous youth realize.

Bio/backstory, tell us what you DO and a bit about how you came to do it.

Born and raised in Denver CO. Leader of all my siblings. Fortunate to grow up with my grandparents and learn about sustainable foods with our own garden. Everyone in my family is very active and plays sports or creates art (draw, paint, sew, beadwork, quillwork, rawhide work, archery, basketball, track, cross country, hiking, gardening, powwow dancing.) Growing up with a loving family is a huge part in how I conduct myself today. Every indigenous family has trauma that needs healing and growing up I did not realize that aspect about my life. What I do now is attend IAIA (Institute of American Indian Arts), travel, attend wacipis (powwow: social gatherings), try my best at photography, yoga, swim, hike. I experiment with how I express myself and live a healthy lifestyle. I am constantly changing and growing and how I came to do all this is by being honest with myself and staying true to my heart.

How do you heal?

I heal first by taking care of myself.

What is your calling rn?

Food. Lots of food that is good for me.

Do your ancestors affect what you do, how you live? If so, how?

Yes, because they are a part of my being and live inside me so therefore I have to be respectful and treat my life as a gift. I’m not trying to be philosophical, but in a sense that I carry their DNA and they are no longer living so I should respect them by treating myself and others around me in a good manner. I can’t control all situations, but I have the power to control myself.

Who are your mentors/role models?

I’ve worked with and grew up with several mentors and role models. Off the top of my head, my grandparents. Although it would be ideal to grow up in our cultures and where they are based at, but during the 70’s there were not many opportunities for them on reservations and rural areas. They all came to Denver to find work and gain stability. They are so brave and continue to live a healthy lifestyle today.

What inspires/drives you to keep going?

My family will always keep inspired to do what I love most. Without them I wouldn’t have grown up with a happy life and knowing what it means to care and be giving towards one another. Also with me not living with them day to day any more, I hope to finish my degree and live close by again and hopefully offer more support in return.

If you could relay a mantra, message, wisdom, food for thought to indigenous 20 somethings from the US and abroad what could you say?

Be of service to our people to help them move past the barriers of lack of economic opportunities. Do more than encourage our youth, yes that is a good start, but take action to help someone realize their potential by really being someone to rely on. Live in a way that will make our ancestors proud. Love yourself.