For National Indigenous Peoples Day, we're spotlighting an incredible and strong Native woman who is living with purpose and who gives back to her community. Tessa and I first during our Nike HQ days in Portland, OR. Both of us had a connection to the Earth and it wasn't long before she invited me to participate in a cleansing ritual - with sage and other traditional tools. It was a new experience for me, but I felt more grounded, with clarity and surrounded in peace. Thank you Tessa for continuing to give back and educate people on your roots.
In the interview Tessa discusses how the Native American medicine wheel has inspired her to live more balanced, how she uses artwork as healing, and how her life has been shaped by giving back to her Native community.
Name: Tessa Sayers
Hometown: Port Orchard, Washington
What’s your Native background?
Turtle Mountain Chippewa from North Dakota.
How do you stay involved in the Native community?
Although I live off the reservation I stay connected through my giveback fund that positively impacts Native youth from my reservation. I designed a blanket where 100% of the profits go to support youth resiliency workshops.
Tell us more about The Resiliency Blanket
I believe in giving back to communities that have supported my journey into becoming a better human. My heartfelt way to giveback is through my art, which has been a powerful and healing medicine to my soul. I hope this blanket and its message positively impact others, just as they have influenced me.
In partnership with GenerationArt, which supports the healing process related to impacts of generational trauma, Soul Curiosity has designed the Resiliency Blanket in honor of the Turtle Mountain band of Chippewa tribe. 100% of profits are donated to a scholarship fund for Turtle Mountain youth to attend Native Youth Resiliency Workshops twice a year. The Turtle Mountain Band will match total funds raised. Join us in supporting the next generation. Since November 2019, the blanket has raised over $21,000.
What does Indigenous Peoples Day mean to you?
It is great to have a dedicated day however it is important to celebrate ourselves everyday. I think of days like this as an opportunity to educate others about indigenous culture.
Tell us more about yourself - how has your past shaped who you are today?
I grew up in Washington State on a small llama farm. My indigenous family encompasses three tribal communities, Metis (Manitoba), Chippewa, and Cree. My mother is non-native and my father is Native. Being multi-racial hasn’t always been easy but I have come to a wonderful place of embracing myself, all aspects and being comfortable in my skin. It took a long while to get there.
My background has been focused on my Native roots. I focused on Native American studies in school and received a full scholarship through the Native American Teacher Training Program. I’ve always been passionate about giving back and helping my community, mentoring, spending on the Lummi Reservation tutoring and mentoring youth, serving as a high school counselor at NAYA ECA, a Native American high school. I took my passion for giving back and went to work on the Nike N7 team, a brand within Nike that inspires and enables Native and Aboriginal youth to be physically active. I now live in Washington and work as the Marketing Manager for the Kitsap Regional Library.
Where did the idea for Soul Curiosity come from?
In 2016, during my free time, I started my own business called Soul Curiosity to inspire holistic lifestyles through the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual elements of the medicine wheel.
I fell in love with the Native American medicine wheel. It teaches us to balance our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual space. This philosophy helped me work through my own struggles with anxiety and an autoimmune disease. Art at the time was the only thing that made me happy and it brought a sense of peace. I started to use my art as inspiration for my own self healing which made me want to share with others as I knew how scary, isolated and alone I felt. I hoped by being vulnerable and brave that would inspire others to embark on their healing journeys or at least feel less alone.
Can you tell us more about the Native American Medicine Wheel?
The medicine wheel is a symbol found across many indigenous nations. Teachings and symbolism speak to the four directions, natural elements, states of being, medicines, and phases of life. These teachings offer opportunities for personal development. They represent the connectedness of all living and energetic beings.
One specific ethos of the medicine wheel is to balance oneself spiritually, physically, emotionally, and mentally. These four concepts reside within the wheel equally because of their relationship with each other. Your soul resides in the middle of the wheel; the fire and light within you. These medicine wheel teachings remind us that healing and personal growth occur when you nurture your mind, body, and spirit through balance and inner work of these four areas holistically.
Where do you find inspiration?
My struggles, nature and my Native heritage. When you see my art and the storytelling behind it, you will see how these are woven together.
Anything else you’d like us to know?
My tagline for life is “let courage be your north star.” It is okay to be unsure and unafraid. It is not about being perfect...it’s about saying yes to life and saying yes to yourself. With courage you can do anything, even if you're not doing it well. It’s about challenging fears and moving forward with as much self love and bravery you can muster. Let go of the expectations and perfection. With courage, you will be amazed how life starts flowing with you then against you.