The Right Sequence: Guardians, Innovators, & Guides

I have these childhood memories of dancing, closing my eyes, and hoping that with the right sequence of steps and grace, I could call forth the rain. Then, there it was.

The raindrops kissing my skin. The mud caressing my feet. My body bursting with joy and laughter being liberated.

I remember the strike of thunder in the middle of the night. The vibrations creeping onto my skin and a momentarily fear. The soft knocks of rain lulling me back to sleep with a smile on my face.

joy // jumping into the water of the canyon.

For as long as I can recall, I have always loved being with water and I have always been in awe of the sheer force contained in the sky. The growth, smell, and serenity that thrives from a single cumulonimbus. The presence of ancestors visiting and bringing with them life.

The fascination and respect that I have for water, in all of its forms, has always been shared with me, especially as I learned more and more about who I am supposed to be and the responsibilities and roles I had historically and will have in the futurity.

water flowing in Canyon De Chelly National Monument.

Áłk’idáá, a long time ago, I was told that the first children of First Man and First Women were the Nádleeh. It is said that they were neither man or woman and that they embodied change. There were two of them, twins, and from the Holy People, along with their siblings, they learned the secrets of the cosmos, the relationship with all of creation, and the chaotic and order of destruction. Each of the twins acquired this knowledge and interacted with the world in a variety of ways.

For the Nádleeh, they were asked to be guardians and innovators. They watched over a dam and controlled the flow of water to the field where the three sisters played; corn, squash, and beans. At the same time, they created pottery and basketry for storage, introducing tools vital for the survival and growth of the community. As the years went by and many events happened, one of the Nádleeh were the first to pass. In mourning, the other learned the rites of burial from the Holy People. From then on, the Nádleeh were responsible for guiding the dead back to our Holy People.

Personally, the Nádleeh emulated the beauty of change and the necessary passage of time. Their responsibility was with community and they had a harmonious relationship with all of creation. In many ways, they learned to shape the world and shared that knowledge with others. As guardians, they developed an intimate relationship with water. As innovators, they learned to influence the world. And as guides, they cared for our community in times of immense pain and need.

The stories I have heard about these amazing twins remind me of the possibilities and force that many queer and trans Diné have inherited and are gifted with. Although Nádleeh is not synonymous with queer and trans identities, our capabilities are boundless. We are in many ways similar to the force of water.

a rainbow shines over the cliff of a canyon in the Canyon De Chelly National Monument.

I end this post with a call to action. Support us, listen to us, and love us. Queer and trans Diné, queer and trans Natives, have experienced so much violence daily and inherited it generationally. We were removed from our communities and continue to be demonized. The world aches for our presence and there is // will be a resurgence.

As guardians, innovators, and guides, our forms are a variety, our presence unique. Water for us, queer and trans Diné, has been and always will be life. We have been the guardians of the dams since time immemorial. Colonialism may have threatened our presence and removed us from our guardianship. But with a certain sequence and an imagination, we can and will call forth the rain // change needed for this world. We exist and we will fight for what we historically have always protected.


This blog post was written as part of and in support of a fundraising campaign organized by Allen Salway (lilnativeboy) and Dig Deep, a human rights non-profit organization dedicated to increasing access to clean water for those in what is currently known as America, please donate as much as you can to this campaign. 100% of your donation is used to fund their water projects, especially in communities such as my own, the Navajo Nation. Anything and everything helps and supports this cause.

Allen’s reasons for starting for this fundraising campaign are below: 

I started this event because I was beyond tired of seeing people celebrate “col*mbus day” a day that celebrates Genocide & White Supremacy no matter how you put it (also he didn’t even step ONE foot on what is now know as the USA SO WHY CELEBRATE?). I wanted to turn this ugly holiday into something beautiful that was done with love, care & community. To show the world we are still here & provide accessible ways to support multiple Indigenous Change makers in 2019. So that’s what this “project” means to me & as someone who grew up without running water & electricity…. this is a dream come true to be able to do something like this for all my people back home❣️

This will be a week long raffle where you can win Native made goods from @j.okuma @oxdxclothing @cheekbonebeauty @bisonstar @simplyyhooked @ntvsclothing + more! As well as a new 2019 IPad & books recommend by me all for just $10 •
During this week long event there will be educational posts/take overs from @sivanalyrarose @dineaesthetics @reztothecity @seukteomaaa + more. Everything raised goes back to the Navajo Water Project (which helps families living on the reservation get access to clean running water & electricity who have NEVER had it before!)

Link is in bio for the raffle & more information on prizes. Please share far & wide. (4) Winners will be announced on Indigenous Peoples day around noon (PST). Good luck & even if you don’t win, thank you for supporting Indigenous owned Businesses/Voices & People. If you have any questions or concerns please reach out to me or @digdeepwater#IPDF2019 #IndigenousPeoplesDay

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