Celebrating and Honoring Native American Changemakers Who Support Equity in Mental Health
Native American Heritage Month (NAHM) is a time to celebrate rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories and to acknowledge the important contributions of Native people. During the month of November, we are lifting up Native American mental health changemakers who embody Crisis Text Line’s core values: Connect with Empathy, Center Equity, Get it Done Together, and Reflect and Evolve.
- Sterlin Harjo, citizen of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma with connections to the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, is a filmmaker best known for the series Reservation Dogs. The series takes place in his home state and features an almost entirely North American Indigenous cast and production team. Reservation Dogs opens up the important dialogue between suicide and mental health stigma among Indigenous people.
- Quannah Chasinghorse is a model and climate activist from the Han Gwich’in and Oglala Lakota tribes. She is passionate about Indigenous rights and promoting sustainable Indigenous brands. Quannah has openly talked about her mental health struggle with anxiety and depressive disorder – expressing how her traditional facial tattoos are a reminder of her ancestors’ resilience.
- Charlie Amáyá Scott is a Diné scholar born and raised within the Navajo Nation. Charlie is also a passionate social media influencer and advocate. Their work is fueled by a desire to provide mental health education that inspires the next generation of queer, transgender, and Indigenous students. They have publicly opened up about their struggle with depression and OCD, and how group therapy and Indigenous healing practices have helped them with their recovery.
- Nangghaahlaangstangs is a former NBA player and founder of the Break the (bi)Cycle project which aims to break the stigma around mental health and suicide among Black and Indigenous men. As an Alaskan native and part of the Haida Indigenous tribe, Nangghaahlaangstangsl uses his personal experiences with depression, abuse, alcoholism and toxic masculinity to raise awareness on the importance of mental health care for Black and Indigenous men, especially in Alaska.
- Dallas Goldtooth is a comedian and environmentalist of Bdewakantunwan Dakota and Diné heritage. He has co-founded the Indigenous comedy group “The 1491s”. Dallas has been on the front lines of the climate and environmental justice movements. Through his recent role in Reservation Dogs, he states that the issue of mental health is directly connected to the issue of climate justice.
- Shina Novalinga is an Inuk social media personality, throat singer and activist. She’s best known for her TikTok videos – where she performs traditional duets with her mother or imitating sounds of nature and animals in harmonious rhythms. In an interview with Elle Canada, Shina expressed how discriminatory comments on social media took a toll on her mental health and how she is working to create a safe space where every Indigenous community feels represented and valued.
- Secretary Deb Haaland made history when she became the first appointed Native American to serve as a cabinet secretary. She is a member of Laguna Pueblo and a 35th generation New Mexican. Secretary Haaland introduced the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative, with the goal of addressing mental health issues for Native communities, shed light on historical abuses and resulting intergenerational trauma.
- Sutton King, MPH, is an Indigenous rights activist, published researcher, and social entrepreneur of Afro-Indigenous heritage. Sutton is also a descendent of both Menominee and Oneida Nations of Wisconsin. She co-founded the Urban Indigenous Collective and then helped create ShockTalk, a wellbeing app focused on healing unresolved historical and intergenerational trauma. She continuously supports research to increase the visibility surrounding indigenous health outcomes and addresses the tremendous amount of mental health disparities within Native communities.
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