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(top left) Shannon Nava
(top right) Anthony and Kya Nava
(bottom left) Chelsea Nava
all photos by Joy Owens, 2008
Anthony Nava: Pascua Yaqui / Keetoowah Band Cherokee, Shannon Nava: Creek / Choctaw / Irish
* Two Children mixed above tribes
Tribal Office/Responsibility/Honor: N/A
Anthony Nava: Performing & Recording Artist, Musician, Artist, Educator
Shannon Nava: Mother, Artist, Woman Business Owner
Chelsea Nava: Child Artist
Shannon Nava: College Graduate in Marketing & Massage Therapist
Shannon Nava: Baseball & Hunting
Chelsea Nava: Badminton, Kickball and Miniature Golfing
Kya Nava: Playing in general as a sport
Painting and Dancing (Northern Traditional Men’s Dancer)
Shannon Nava: Bead working, Cooking and Writing
Chelsea Nava: Bead working, drawing, writing, cooking and painting
Whole family: Traditional
What activities do you participate in to celebrate being American Indian?
Whole Family: We celebrate life and our creator every day. What does it mean to be American Indian or to celebrate being an American Indian? I think a more suitable question would be, “How do you celebrate and/or live your culture”? Shannon Nava: For me being a mixed blood person gave me sort of an advantage through life. I do not see color, race or creed…just people. I honor my ancestors and what they did whether it was right or wrong. I learned from them because they made mistakes and was humble enough to tell me through stories and our Oral Traditions so that I would not make the same mistakes. And if I did it was okay, just as long as I learned from them. Those are the same ideals that I have passed down to my children through life and stories.
I always find it interesting the questions that myself and Anthony get asked on a regular basis is, “I don’t how much Indian I am”, or “What part Indian are you”? I recently was asked the later question and my response was, “What do you mean you are part Indian”? The person looked at me in amazement and almost with an offended look, she responded, “I am part Indian”. So as she talked around the question for a moment she came back to it as she paused, she asked me I guess you and Anthony get that a lot, I replied, “Yes, we do, everyone says they are “part Indian”. I told her a story about how my Grandmother was not allowed to speak about whom she was and her mother my Great Grandmother was threatened by her own husband to not speak of being Indian, he told her, “You are a White Woman now”. I told her I think this is where the remark stems from, out of fear to not say what you truly are. So I asked the lady, “What part of you is Indian”? Is it your hand, your arms, your legs, what part? She said, “I never really thought of it that way”. I responded to her by saying, “It is our heart that is what makes us who we are, I asked her, “What is your heart?
Be proud of who you are, be proud of where your people came from, because you are walking history. Do you realize that? No matter if you are Indian, Irish, Scottish or any other Culture or a mix of all that history is what makes you who you are.
How do you preserve your culture and heritage?
By teaching our children and educating others the correct way, with patience and truth
Do you speak your tribal language?
Anthony Nava: some of both Yaqui and Keetoowah, Shannon Nava: Learning, Chelsea Nava: Learning, Kya Nava: Learning
What are some misconceptions regarding American Indians?
That we all go to Pow Wow’s, the color of our skin, that we celebrate Thanksgiving and that all Indians act or look the same
What words, symbols, actions, etc. do you find offensive as an American Indian?
1 Squaw: has to be one of the most derogatory terms in the English language.
2 Mascots: Native people are not mascots we are people.
3 Disney Characters: such as Pocahontas…Indian people do not go around talking to trees and have hummingbirds following them around aimlessly. Peter Pan also with Big Chief walking around saying “How” and singing “Why is the Red Man, Red”, and when did he first say “How”.
4 Cartoons: Betty Boop was notorious for playing the “Little Indian Sqauw”, The Three Stooges in “Don’t misbehave, Indian brave”.
5 Cowboy and Indian movies: Why did all the people who played the Indians, were never Indians just White men with cake make-up on.
6 Being called Stereotypical Names: such as Chief, Kemosabe; (which means; “dumb white guy”) and Tonto; (which is a Spanish originated word meaning; “stupid”).
What is worse than Indians on T.V., Indians watching Indians on T.V.?
Anthony Nava Biography:
I am a Pascua Yaqui and Keetoowah Cherokee. I was born in Nuremberg, Germany. My father was in the military and based in Germany. My fathers name is Everado Nava and is from the Pascua Yaqui tribe and my mothers name is Mary Nava and she is from the Keetoowah Band of Cherokee of Oklahoma. My father was transferred to Kentucky and Louisville is where my family settled.
Teaching diversity and Native culture has been a great pleasure for me. But what is Diversity? What does it mean? How does a person act on it? In many cultures this is not a problem, but with Native culture Americans today have a hard time understanding Native Americans. They believe that all Native Americans look the same, dress the same, use the same language, eat the same things, or even share the same spirituality.
This is not the case, and these stereotypes are what, in my program I try to dispel. My programs are designed to help bridge the gap for more understanding and sensitivity for Native people, and the people of the world alike.
Shannon Nava Biography:
A life long artisan, Mrs. Nava has always had a love of cultures and stories. After setting out on her own to discover more about her own unique history, a mix of two native cultures and Irish background, Mrs. Nava was shocked by the amount of incorrect information that others had been taught about culture, even their own. Shannon has spent many years sorting out the truth of her history from the mainstream ideas that have been so misleading to the general public.
Guided by an enriched and diverse upbringing, Shannon has long devoted her life to helping others and now seeks to share her love of storytelling with the world. She believes everyone has a story to tell and has surrounded herself with the art she so loves. "Art is life; from cooking, to gardening, to raising my children everything I do reminds me of the beauty that I create everyday." Mrs. Nava currently owns two businesses and resides in New Albany, Indiana with her children and husband, Anthony Nava.