From the voice of an AHA Native American National Ambassador and Community Health Advocate:
“Yá’át’ééh (good greetings). The month of November is a precious time to honor the histories and sacrifices of my people, the Native people. It is a time to acknowledge the diverse cultures and traditions of the first inhabitants of this country. It is a time to celebrate the contributions and achievements of enduring tribal nations. It is a time to celebrate our existence. It is a time to share, to teach truth, and to impart what has been forgotten, what has never been taught, and what should be taught. It is an opportunity to learn and discover the fundamentals of our survival, reality, and presence.
Our ancestors endured and persevered so we could exist today, not only to survive, but indeed, thrive. As we plan for healthy future generations, we need to commit to protect and care for this earth and in return the earth will protect and care for us. Our relationship with the environment and nature is a responsibility that we need to value and embrace.
Our present is a gift of the future. As an individual or an entity, make a commitment to meet challenges with gratitude and live with an expectation to improve the lives of those around you. Live #OnPurpose and take action through the resources and opportunities available to us. It is a time to re-prioritize, re-evaluate, and re-engage or simply begin to engage in what matters most – our health. Choose to be a healthy steward of this earth. This month provides an opportunity to make a commitment to be a champion of healthy change for our heart and brain health.
It is an honor to partner with the American Heart Association to address our health in Indian Country. It is a priority and privilege to empower tribal communities to lead a healthy lifestyle and simultaneously address the epidemics so we can continue to celebrate our existence with dignity, strength, and courage.
I invite you to join me in advocating for heart-healthy tribal citizens. Looking forward, I see future indigenous generations, living a longer healthier lifestyle with meaning, depth, and purpose.
Today is the day to make the choice to be the best you. Live a life to inspire others. Make this National American Indian and Alaskan Native Month a life-changing one.
Denisa Livingston is a tribal member of the Navajo Nation. Her mission is to improve the lives of others and her purpose is to empower her community. She is committed to addressing the diabetes epidemic, the dominant culture of “ch’iyáán bizhool” or unhealthy foods, and the lack of healthy food access on the Navajo Nation. Denisa is a national ambassador for the American Heart Association’s multicultural movement, EmPowered To Serve and a volunteer community health advocate for the Diné Community Advocacy Alliance (DCAA). DCAA has been globally recognized for several laws, the first of its kind in a food desert: Elimination of Tax on Healthy Foods, an Unhealthy Foods Tax or the Healthy Diné Nation Act of 2014, and a tax revenue allocation for Community Wellness Projects. Denisa received a bachelor’s degree and a Master of Public Health degree from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She is a graduate of both Leadership San Juan and Leadership New Mexico Connect programs. Denisa is one of the Advisory Committee members of the recently launched Reclaiming Native Truth: A Project to Dispel America’s Myths and Misconceptions. Last fall, she was a W.K. Kellogg Foundation nominee and Slow Food international delegate of the International Indigenous Terra Madre event in India. This fall, she was selected again for the Terra Madre Salone del Gusto event in Italy and was one of the representatives of the indigenous Turtle Island Slow Food Association. Connect with her on social media and be inspired (@PrincesseDenisa).