We are honored to be celebrating this PRIDE month with our wonderful friend, Yuè Begay, a Navajo transgender woman, advocate and artist. Last year we interviewed her for our PRIDE Artists Spotlight, we are excited to catch up with her again and see what she has been up to since we last spoke! This year, Yuè has graciously offered to teach us different Navajo/Diné words every week for the month of June. Each week has a theme, the first being greetings followed by family/friends/community, animals/nature, foods/recipes, LGBTQIA+/2Spirit words. Keep an eye on our Instagram and TikTok each week for these exciting new lessons!
Name: Yuè Begay
Please introduce yourself:
Yá’át’ééh shik’is dóó shik’é dóó shidine’é. Yuè Begay yinishyé. Naakai Dine'é nishłį́. Kinyaa'áanii bááshishchíín. Dibéłzhiní da'shicheii. Tábąąhá da'shinálí. Ákót'éego t'áá diné asdzáán nishłį́. Ákót'éego t'áá nádleehí nishłį́ 'ałdó'.
"Hello my friends, family, and my people. My name is Yuè Begay. I am of the Nomadic People Clan, Born for the Towering House Clan. My maternal grandfather is of the Black Sheep Clan and my paternal grandfather is of the Near the Water’s Edge Clan. In this way, I am a Navajo transgender woman.”
We were honored to interview you last year for our PRIDE Artists Spotlight, how have you been? Any projects or accomplishments you would like to highlight since we last spoke?
I’ve been fine. I’m taking a year off of grad school starting this summer and am looking forward to it. As for projects this past year, I am proud of completing a 5 day training program for cancer control and research for minority groups as well as being part of film project produced by Indian Health Service and the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board called “Our Story” (coming soon).
What does it mean to you to identify as a 2Spirit, Indigiqueer and Trans woman?
In conjunction with being nádleehí, those four terms are the core of my being. There is much resilience, power, tenderness, rejuvenation, and peacefulness with those terms. They help guide my everyday life from my personal choices even to my art style.
As a proud member of the Navajo Nation, what has your journey with Diné Bizaad (Navajo language) been like?
I grew up on the Navajo Nation where my language was abundant when I was a child. Growing up into my teens and now into my adulthood, I’m starting to see the elders pass away; however, I’m also seeing my generation and younger starting to take up the mantle of being language speakers. Some of my peers in middle schools and high school are starting to be more unapologetically Navajo and I love it.
How does your language and culture influence your art?
My language and culture influences my art heavily. All of my art is centered around Diné culture and futurism. I love Diné futurism! I love the idea that my people, our language, and culture will not only be existing in the far future but that Diné people will be very much different just as we are to our ancestors.
When do you feel most connected to your culture and language?
I feel most connected to my culture and language when I make digital art, when I buy clothes that fit in my Diné color scheme, when I do my makeup, and when I buy jewelry. I love to carry my heritage into almost every aspect of my life.
What is your advice for non-LGBTQPAI+ and 2Spirit folks who want to be better allies?
Educate yourself and learn to sit with your uncomfortability. Ask yourself why you are so bothered about another group of people’s happiness and joy. Start researching and financially supporting Two Spirit and LGBTQPAI+ content creators who make allyship content education often times for free. Uplift them by tipping them and sharing their work.
How can people follow & support you/your art?
Please feel free to share any additional thoughts:
Start looking up and following Indigenous political activists. Colonization is ramping up with many worldwide anti-Indigenous legislation regarding our children (ICWA), land and water theft, land and water misuse, land and water poisoning, burial remains and artifacts, attack on tribal sovereignty, and the rise of using blood quantum as a measurement of Native blood. All of these are anti-Indigenous legislation and rhetoric being promoted by global colonization and missionization efforts. Start looking up, following, supporting, promoting, and amplifying Indigenous activist individuals and groups.