Sheilah Dasher, Mixed Black-Navajo Woman Warrior

African Native American

Sheilah Naajiibah Dasher is a young woman warrior with strength and fearlessness in her name.

Sheilah Naajiibah Dasher is an experienced conference speaker, workshop facilitator and American Indian advocate. Naajiibah is a Navajo female warrior name, named for her great grandmother a herbalist medicine woman. Dasher wears her Native American heritage proudly. Dasher is of mixed heritage from her Native American mother and Black-American father. She is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, but also honors her Zuni and Apache ancestral heritage. She resides on Kumeyaay and Luiseno Indian ancestral land.

“I was given a warrior name and born into a medicine family but my medicine is not through chants or all night prayers but is through the work I do for my people in my community.” ~Sheilah Dasher

She spent her formative years living on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona, immersed in the Diné culture and traditions. Her clans are, Zuni Red Streak Clan, born for the Black People, maternal grandfather the Edge Water clan, paternal grandfather the Black People. (Naaneesht’ezhi tachii’nii, yinshi Naakaii le Zhinii’ dine’e ba’shishchiin, Tabaaha dashicheii aadoo’, Naakaii le Zhinii’ dine’e dashinali’).

Sheilah has participated in a number of national and regional coalitions including the 2010 Answer Coalition (Washington, DC), the 2010 National Indian Education Association, the 2008 San Diego American Indian Youth Health Conference and the 2008 United National Indian Tribal Youth Conference. She has been an activist for Native rights, as well as gender and domestic violence issues.

African Native American

Photo Credit: (c) Brittany Galante

Dasher served as the Program Coordinator and Instruction Facilitator for the San Diego American Indian Health Center’s Tribal Personal Responsibility Education Program (Tribal PREP), for two and half years. The project was designed to educate and reduce the number of sexually transmitted infectious diseases as well as unplanned pregnancies among Native youth.

She is a graduate of California State University, San Marcos, which homes the largest population of Native students in the Cal State system. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology/ Women’s Studies and a minor degree in Ethnic Studies. In college she was the President of the American Indian Student Alliance and served as a member of the Multicultural Student Council. She was honored with a Community Builder Award from Cal State University San Marcos. She also earned an Associate’s of Arts degree in Journalism/Communications from Southwestern College. This helped her attended the Native American Journalism Institute at the University of South Dakota.

While a high school student, Sheilah worked as an Youth Counselor for the Urban Indian Youth Program where she led a team of youth who wrote and produced a documentary video entitled “It’s Your Life, Live It Safe: HIV/ AIDS” in the Native American Community. Dasher sat on council as Youth Chairwoman for San Diego’s 1st American Indian Youth Health Conference serving over 200 youth.

Dasher ran as a candidate for the Miss Indian World Pageant at The Gathering of Nations (2010), and Miss Indian Ceremonial (2008). She held the title of Miss University of California San Diego Powwow Princess (2012-2013), representing higher education and American Indian women. She is a three time winner of The Society of Professional Journalist Awards for her news stories focusing on Native American and Immigrant communities.

Walking in the spirit of her ancestors she has always been committed to community and using the resources she has to help her people. She is currently a full-time mom and part time student working towards a Paralegal degree and hopes to some day obtain her Master’s of Social Work.

She continues to be a very active member of her urban Indian community.

Note: African Native American or Afro Native? People who call themselves “Black Indians” are people living in America of African-American descent, with significant heritage of Native American Indian ancestry, and with strong connections to Indian Country and its Native American Indian culture, social, and historical traditions. Black Indians are also called African Native American people, Black American Indians, Black Native Americans and Afro Native Americans.

I Love Ancestry is a global issue advocacy campaign that explores identity, diversity, heritage and culture, highlighting the experiences of marginalized people and Indigenous communities around the world.

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