Indigenous athletes, artists and healers are guiding voices for today’s youth and Nike’s N7 Ambassadors are helping empower the next generation in achieving better health and wellness through sport, lifestyle and culture.
The “Wellness in Motion” video series amplifies inspiring stories from Nike N7 Ambassadors who are working to keep this generation of Indigenous youth active and healthy. Guided by wisdom, moving with bravery, connecting deeply, and healing — this path promotes resilient and healthy families, thriving cultures and loving communities.
Sport is a way to connect to our past and pursue wellness together, for a stronger future. United by the belief that we are connected to seven generations of ancestors and descendants, we see sport as a powerful way to foster this connection between our past, present and future — and our true selves.
“Committing to a community that’s larger than yourself can bring even more meaning to the game,” says Tomás Karmelo Amaya, of the Yoeme, A:shiwi and Rarámuri, who is an N7 Ambassador, co-founder of the Indigenous 20 Something Project and creative director for Indian Country Today.
“When we know who we’re playing for, thinking about our ancestors, our community or the future, it can give us that extra boost — and a greater purpose,” he says.
Movement goes further than just fitness — it provides a deeper understanding of yourself, your mind and your body. We can use sport as a tool to build mental resilience. A free mind can be filled with hope, appreciate the journey and help you overcome anything. Fear can create stagnation, but moving with intention and courage helps lead a free mind forward.
For many, healing achieved through sport doesn’t stop with the body. N7 Ambassador and professional lacrosse player Jeremy Thompson, member of the Iroquois Confederacy of the Onondaga Nation, believes his Indigenous roots have given him a deeper connection to his sport.
“I was born into this game, and I’ve played it throughout my life, since I was a little baby. Since I could walk. And so, to me, there’s that sense of spirit that follows you,” he says.
“When we’re playing at the highest level, it’s almost like all the spirits of all those ancestors who have played this game seriously before are coming to put their ear on a window, and they’re right there listening to you.”
For many Indigenous athletes, expressing themselves through sport allows them to better support and heal their communities. For example, Miles Thompson, member of the Iroquois Confederacy of the Onondaga Nation, who attended and played lacrosse on a scholarship for the University of Albany, gained skills during that experience, which he now uses to help build up his home community.
“By going off to college, getting a degree and coming back to my community to help out — that’s something that I’m still working on to this day, give the kids a good example of how to be.”
Achieving that kind of large-scale change starts with a community that works — and moves — together. Shalene Joseph, from the Aaniiih people of Fort Belknap in Montana and Athabascan people of Tanana in Alaska, is director and project coordinator for the Native Wellness Institute. She believes that healing the collective trauma of Indigenous people requires the strength of a nation. “Moving together, we can use our strength to support the change that still needs to happen.”
For a deeper understanding of wellness and healing in Native American and Indigenous communities, visit the Native Wellness Institute, which has been committed to positively impacting Native people for 20 years. And for more information about healing through wellness, visit the Indigenous 20 Something Project, an organization that focuses on reconnecting Indigenous people to their roots.
Nike is committed to getting youth in Native American and Indigenous communities in North America moving so they can lead healthier, happier and more successful lives. Through Nike’s N7 Fund, we support organizations that deliver programs and services to increase physical activity and support education and career development for youth in these communities. Since 2009, the N7 Fund has awarded more than $8 million in grants to more than 270 communities and organizations. In Spring 2020, Nike awarded $225,000 in new N7 Fund grants, administered by the Charities Aid Foundation of America.
To learn more about Nike N7’s community giving, click here.
To learn about Nike’s ongoing commitment towards creating an equal playing field for all, click here.