The month of November is Native American Heritage Month and today we are sharing the story of Jaylyn Gough and her org @nativewomenswilderness. Native Women’s Wilderness was created to inspire and raise the voices of Native Women, to encourage a healthy lifestyle grounded in wilderness, and to educate Natives and non-Natives about the rich beauty and heritage of the Ancestral Lands beneath our feet.
Yá'át'ééh! My name is Jaylyn and I’m the founder of NWW. You can say that I'm a kid straight off the Rez. I grew up on the Navajo Reservation, where you flicked baby rattlesnakes at each other and where boys tried to put black widows in the girls black hair. I was adopted at a young age by an incredible woman, a woman who taught me how to love and explore the land. You see, the land was our playground. The sticks were swords. The canyons were a maze. The cliffs were wonder.
@nativewomenswilderness was created out of the frustration of the lack of women of color, of Native Woman who represented in the outdoor industry. As a child all I really wanted was to climb mountains, but I grew up with the idea that only white women could climb mountains. I began scaling those cliffs in my backyard. I became a guide. And then I became the brown woman who climbed mountains.
My desire for NWW is to be a platform for our voices, to show our love and passion for the wild, to be of support to one another. As Natives, we have always been a last and fleeting thought, but our hearts and voices are rising and I'm proud to be a Navajo woman who climbs mountains. Our women have suffered much, but it's our ties to the land that keep us strong.
Through NWW, women have come and expressed pain. Pain of being raped, of identity, challenges of having been adopted, colonization, and the hardships that come with being a woman of color. But there is a consistent theme in our stories and that is the love of the Land, how it heals us, because it is the Land that our ancestors walked.
I also hope to assist in the shift of cultural and ethnical representation of Native Americans and Native American culture in the outdoor industry. We need more Native women represented, for who knows the land better! Ahéhee and blessings to you!