Kaylene Iñuraaq Evans
Nome Eskimo Community
Nome Eskimo Community
Uvuŋa atiġa Iñuraaq. Sitñasuakaġamuiruġa. Kiġiktaqamui-lu Katyaakamui-lu illutka. Mamaġa Aaġayuk. Papaġa Keok. Aanaġa Iñuraaq-lu Maktuaya-lu. Taataġa Robert. Iñuraaq Kaylene Evans is an Iñupiaq citizen from Sitñasuak (Nome), Alaska. Their parents are Bobby Evans of Sitñasuak and Kathleen Jaycox of Katyaak. Their grandparents are the late Laura Maktuaya (Sockpick) Evans of Kiġiktaq, Bob Evans of Minnesota, and Myrtle Iñuraaq Wells of Katyaak.
Iñuraaq is passionate about revitalizing Indigenous ways of life for healing and community-building. They are a multi-passionate artist and a full-spectrum Indigenous Doula. Iñuraaq earned a Master of Arts in Indigenous politics, a Bachelor of Arts in political science and ethnic studies, and their art bridges academic lessons to traditional teachings to inspire reconnection to the sacred.
“Nuna (land) has been a constant companion and provider to Indigenous people throughout millennia. Severe storms, rising sea levels, temperature increases, and erratic weather result from imbalance created by colonization and globalization. Strong storms and drastic climate changes are Nuna’s reassertion of true power. This short film combines my narrated poem with a video by Katie O’Connor of Typhoon Merbok hitting Nome, Alaska. It illustrates the deep connection Indigenous nations have with land and waters. The storm symbolism is a wake-up call to the current colonial government to address climate change by honoring the sovereignty of Indigenous Alaska nations.” —Kaylene Iñuraaq Evans
Watch Kaylene’s video here.
What does the idea of “justice for Native communities” mean to you?
Justice for Native communities looks like thriving Indigenous languages, vibrant and inclusive cultures, and healthy and abundant environments. It means safety for all ages, genders, and sexual orientations — and having autonomy over education, healthcare, and the environment. It means having proper infrastructure for Indigenous people to live well in their homelands; and sustainable and reciprocal relationships between humans and ecosystems informed by traditional knowledge and practices. In this artist’s perspective, Native justice is the full recognition of the power of the earth and the sovereignty of Indigenous people to advocate on behalf of all land, waters, and lifeforms.
What do you think needs to happen in the world to achieve justice for Native communities?
For Native justice to be achieved, Indigenous people must have their stolen land and wealth returned to them. They must regain autonomy over their homelands, receive reparations for the stolen (extracted) resources, and reinvest in their communities to rebuild institutions strategically destroyed by colonialism, such as ceremonial houses, housing for community members, education systems, and Indigenous economies. Justice for Indigenous communities must be decided upon within individual communities, as they know best what their needs and solutions are.
How do you express justice through your artwork?
My artwork honors the sacred within all living things. It recognizes land, water, and environmental forces as pinnacles of power. My art expresses my love and devotion to the natural world and its gifts within. As someone raised and fed by the land and waters, I honor animals and plants that allowed me to live. My art expresses the sacredness within ourselves as Native people and honors our beauty, brilliance, and resilience. It rejects colonial ideologies and reaffirms Indigenous ways of knowing.
Is there anything else you would like to share about Native justice and your artwork?
Seeking Native justice, like my artwork, requires immense courage and deep love for ourselves, communities, and homelands. The strength to advocate for oneself and nation depends upon the belief of one’s worthiness. Colonialism sought to disconnect Indigenous people from their sense of worth and sacred connection to land. Nevertheless, that connection remains. My artwork seeks to remind the world of our inherent worth, sacredness, and power. I deeply believe that climate change is due to the current imbalance of humans’ relationships to the natural world and the call for Indigenous knowledge and leadership to restore balance. Our return to Indigenous languages and practices are imperative to adapt. We, as Natives, are worthy and ready to shine.