*six-two 35 under 35 changemaker of 2018 – animal welfare category
Focusing on the future is important for all 18 year olds but for Naelyn Pike, the future of the indigenous people, our natural resources, the planet and mankind as a whole are where her attention is concentrated.
As an 18-year-old Chiricahua Apache woman, Naelyn has already spent years as an activist, a role model and hero, championing the beliefs of indigenous people and the preservation of the earth.
Naelyn has been nominated in the human rights category of 35 under 35 initiative by Sarain Fox (Manitobah Mukluks brand ambassador) for dedicating her life to reclaiming her culture and the right to access and protect sacred sites.
She held her first speaking engagement at the age of 9, and became the youngest person ever to testify in front of Congress, at 13 years old.
She has travelled all across the country and the world, speaking at schools and conventions, appealing to the ears of the youth, elders and politicians alike. Naelyn aims to rally her generation, raise awareness for the beliefs of her people and their rights to sacred lands.
She encourages her community to be strong and to protect and proudly proclaim their identity. She speaks out against the politicians and corporations who aim to desecrate the lands that indigenous people deem sacred. And most of all, Naelyn encourages others to do the same, for the sake of generations to come.
Leadership and bravery is something that runs in Naelyn’s family, as she co-leads the Apache Stronghold with her grandfather Wedsler Nosie Sr. The Apache Stronghold is fighting to stop a mining project that would desecrate Oak Flat, an Apache sacred site.
Naelyn is currently a college student at Mesa Community College, where she continues to advocate for her people while pursuing a higher education. She is one of the strongest young voices in the indigenous community, and is sure to become one of the key leaders in the fight for indigenous human rights for decades to come.
Follow along with her journey on Instagram.
To learn more about the six-two 35 under 35 initiative, and to see the individuals who made the list, head here.