June 21, 2019
The teenage whaler’s tale
Before his story made the Anchorage paper, before the first death threat arrived from across the world, before his elders began to worry and his mother cried over the things she read on Facebook, Chris Apassingok, age 16, caught a whale.
ALLEN SALWAY WANTS YOU TO WAKE UP TO WHAT WHAT NAVAJO NATION LIFE IS LIKE
Activism was never a choice for Allen Salway. Like other 21-year-old college students, Salway enjoys listening to Megan Thee Stallion, watching sunsets, and using the right meme at the right time. But he is also a community organizer and a staunch advocate for Indigenous peoples worldwide, who has personally experienced many of the issues that he writes about and works to remediate.
Salway grew up on the eastern part of Navajo Nation, in New Mexico — without electricity, running water, or a home address. The nearest source of drinkable water was hours awayand, in the event of an emergency, calling 911 on the reservation was never an option; in order to survive, Salway and his family had to deal with crises or threats themselves. In August 2017, Salway detailed these realities of reservation life in a Twitter thread that soon went viral.
A decade ago, these girls weren't allowed to play lacrosse. Now they inspire a reservation.
Joryan Adams paced near the locker room and underneath the championship banners hanging inside Salmon River High, none of which included her girls' lacrosse team.
At 14 years old, she was among the youngest of the 29 Mohawk girls about to play in a state playoff game, yet she carried herself with a veteran's maturity. She wore a black undershirt to steel her from the winds howling along the U.S.-Canada border and examined her stick, the one her father shortened with a saw blade to fit her hands and she keeps beside her bed on the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation every night. She stopped to listen to her coach's pep talk.
"This is the most important part: You guys are starting to believe in yourselves, and you're believing in everyone else," said first-year coach Ron LaFrance, a former tribal chief who at one time didn't believe girls in his tribe should be able to play the sport.