Hello! My name is Tailinh Agoyo and I am one of the directors of We Are the Seeds of CultureTrust. Through my careers in film, photography, and with Indigenous arts organizations, I’ve committed myself to reframing all too common misconceptions and stereotypes about contemporary Indigenous people. However, these efforts are not just at work. When I walk out the door each morning as a mixed-race Indigenous woman, for better or worse, I am representing and educating. This is a blessing and a great responsibility.
Through We Are the Seeds, Paula Mirabal (director) and I are creating opportunities for Indigenous artists and performers to share their stories in their own voices. Our perspectives and approach to leading the organization are reflective of who we are as Indigenous women and mothers—our philosophies are key to creating positive growth in our art communities. It has been a challenging road but hard work, patient nurturing, and love do bring valuable gifts.
For me, the most important blessings from my work are those that have been bestowed upon my children. I have four sons. They are Quaye (15), Teyo (13), Luca (11), and Micah (8). They are beautiful Ohkay Owingeh, Cochiti, Kewa, Narragansett children.
"Everything that I do, every hardship, every push is to make a better world for these boys. They are the spirit and resilience of our ancestors and they will grow to be strong, confident, and thoughtful Indigenous men. I look at them and I see all of us-- all of who we are as Indigenous people and all that we came from. We are here and we thrive."
Cut to early January:
Our family rang in 2019 in a most extraordinary way. We were a part of HERSTORY! On January 2, we had the honor of attending an intimate community celebration for Debra Haaland, who has the distinct title of being one of the first Native American women elected to the United States Congress. We arrived at a house where family and friends from New Mexico were serving up an incredible feast of traditional Pueblo foods.
There was an abundance of red and green chile stew, pueblo bread, and, seriously though, the most delicious tamales in the world. I saw Debra Haaland at the dining table and was so excited but she was eating and chatting so I didn’t disturb. I stayed busy in the kitchen instead. There was that familiarity and warmth of being surrounded by a community that we now live so far from. The laughter was everything. The feeling of strength, joy, and celebration was palpable.
I was honored and humbled to be a part of this gathering and I felt such pride as a woman and as an Indigenous mama. I was grateful that my four boys were there to witness that momentous occasion and to come to understand that after 230 years, there would be two Native American women sworn into Congress the following day. How profound for my boys to be in the same room as Debra Haaland, a fierce, intelligent, loving Indigenous woman and mother who has achieved a position in the upper levels of our country’s government.
As a people, we have been severely underrepresented and too often dismissed outside of our circles. That special day defined a clear shift and movement forward for us.
Debra Haaland and the community behind her worked diligently for years to make this goal a reality. The win was an incredible inspiration. Now, seeing Debra Haaland connect with her constituents and address issues that are so important to Indigenous people like #MMIWG2 (Missing and murdered Indigenous Woman, Girls, and Two Spirits) is heartening and, honestly, completely mind-blowing. Finally, we have a voice. The realization of this reality runs deep. Being able to be a part of this victory celebration gave me confidence that through our resilience and tireless efforts to make space for our next generations, we will be heard.
We keep pushing so that our children and the next seven generations will live in a world where they are represented, where they feel like they belong, and where they are safe to be who they are. We work to be good ancestors. And we always remember that we are the seeds.
Learn more about this incredible organization during We Are the Seeds Philadelphia: A celebration of Indigenous arts and cultures. April 6, 11am-4pm / Taller Puertorriqueño 2600 N 5th St, Philadelphia, PA 19133 / Tickets are sliding scale donation. Suggested $10. For more program information visit wearetheseeds.org
“Women in leadership roles can help restore balance and wholeness to our communities.” Wilma Mankiller