Noel Altaha, a Native woman based in Lenape-Hoking, New York City since 2014, working at the intersections of power, race, oppression, privilege that involve Native spaces.
Noel Altaha is a member of the Zil Ligai Ndee, White Mountain Apache tribe from the southwest of Turtle Island.
“I am committed to the healing and thriving of Indigenous peoples into the next seven generations. Our existence and relation with ourselves, one another, our land, our language, all of this is what makes us stronger than what has happened to us. It is the epitome of our ability to not only survive, but to thrive. ”
With a Master’s degree in Social Work from Columbia, Noel gained experience in Child Welfare working with children in the foster care system in Queens and Brooklyn, New York.
Noel Altaha now works as a Senior Program Manager at a nonprofit organization in New York City that helps the justice system aid victims, reduce crime, and improve public trust in justice.
Noel Altaha provides Training and Technical Assistance in the Tribal Justice Exchange department where she works with federally recognized tribes on enhancing their tribal justice systems.
“It is incredibly eye opening to see the innovative possibilities and ideas many tribal communities talk about the needs of tribal justice involved members while ensuring community safety. From a lens of being a Native social worker, I can see that approaching strategic planning works better when tribes lead on developing a thorough systems response of the issues every community encounters. From where I am standing, when I see there’s communication and a plan, I really see that every tribe knows how to best work with their people.”
Noel also spends her time at the Urban Indigenous Collective, Inc. UIC was founded in 2019 by her and their leadership team. She is their Director of Programs & Development.
Urban Indigenous Collective is a NYC 501(c)3 nonprofit aimed to provide quality, affordable, culturally grounded services rooted in humility for urban Natives living in the Tri-State Area. Her expertise is developing programs to meet the needs of Indigenous Native Americans and Alaska Natives living and working in New York City.
“Life is filled with experiences, and my response is to seek lessons and let go of the rest that is no longer requiring our attention. I think about innovative ways we remained as an Apache tribe beyond the colonial gaze. Like many Natives seeking job or school opportunities, access to more resources like stable housing, or other reasons for moving to the city, I recognize that I am away from my ancestral homeland.
It’s lonely to be away from the language, food and other home specific constants like humor and smells. I’ve disrupted any physical distance becoming disconnected by responding creatively, like my ancestors did. What this means is that I actively work to spend time with the Apache language, daily. I learned as a native living in an urban city, I have to make room in my life and welcome it like a new but old friend.”