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Meet Three Native Americans Making Careers Out of Giving Back to the Land

Native Americans have always been outdoor people. We have stories and teachings of how important the land is to us and we respect it. However, the “outdoors” has been recreated to be a place of work and not being. Natives are one with the Earth and have not yet completely tapped into making the outdoors work for us. I believe this is out of respect—we do not want to exploit the blessing we have been given, but also know we need to get involved to preserve and share our histories. I share with you three people that are giving back to the land and are making it their career. I have always wanted to work in the outdoors, and these three are great examples of doing such while honoring ancestral lands. 

Diana Greymountain, Navajo @greymtn
National Park Service Ranger, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

“Growing up, my mom always told us about outside hiking, and to visit national parks. Our family vacations only consisted of going to national parks. So I grew up loving nationals parks. When I got to college, I was confused about what I wanted to do career-wise, but after hiking the Grand Canyon the first time, I realized this is it—this is what I want. I want to work in these beautiful places and educate people about the importance of protecting these places, and how we can protect them. The application process is very hard, but writing the resume is the hardest. After completing the process, I just waited for an interview. Right now, I work with aquatic invasive species out on the boat ramp, educating boaters about the quagga mussels and doing boat inspections, which is just making sure they have no standing water and transport the potential mussels to other bodies of water. Before this, I did programs and worked with kids to teach them about national parks. I love interacting with people. I’m such a people person. I love hearing people’s stories, but what I really love is inspiring others to fall in love and protect their public lands.”

Marshal Masayesva, Hopi @adventuresforhopi
Program Director, Conservationist, Tribal Youth Advocate

“I run the Ancestral Lands Hopi program full-time: @ancestrallands. We do still incorporate recreation into the program, but with more of a service component, such as kayak river cleanups and backcountry invasive species removal projects. It’s confusing. I’m the program director for A4H, and I still offer recreation services and equipment to our conservation crews. I’m also the program manager for Ancestral Lands Hopi. Not many folks know about the AL program. We have five offices in Hopi, Acoma, Navajo (Gallup), Zuni, and ABQ, providing native youth with conservation programming. We also work with land management agencies such as USFS and the park service. The Hopi office is unique in that we have recreation equipment through A4H to support service recreation. Ultimately, we are a “Conservation Corps” with elements of native programming.”

Beauty Way Jeep Tours, Alvira and Leander Staley, Navajo
Native Business owners, Tour Guides in Canyon De Chelly National Monument 
@vampirafaye @beautywayjeeptours @darkroom1428

“Our business, Beauty Way Jeep Tours, is a family business from my husband’s side, that we currently run. My husband, Leander Staley, is a fourth-generation Canyon De Chelly guide, and my maternal family is from the canyon as well. We found out years into our relationship that our grandfathers were actually good friends and worked together as guides. The family business started out with hiking, horse and wagon tours (over 40-plus years ago), and eventually grew to incorporate Jeeps and 4×4 vehicles. Our company provides tours to guide and educate visitors on all that the canyon has to offer, whether it’s for commercial purposes, photography, scenic, or historical information. All our guides are Navajo and grew up in the canyon, having a wide variety of specialties and expertise. We like to match our groups to specific guides depending on their needs and requests, and we love showing our visitors our culture and sharing stories of past and present to show that we are still here, thriving. We also work w many local schools, K through 12, throughout the NN to give historical tours, highlighting specific locations in the canyon that relate to The Long Walk. We want to teach our people, especially our youth, that these important events happened just over the hill or in our backyards.”

Header photo: Glen Canyon National Recreation Area/Photo by Gary Ladd/Courtesy of NPS

Angel Tadytin is a Native American from the Navajo Tribe in Arizona. Born Many Goat for the Coyote Pass People, her maternal grandfather’s clan is Bitterwater, and her paternal grandfather’s clan is Towering House.

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