Natives Outdoors empowers Native & Indigenous communities through its products & storytelling for a sustainable world.
The American Indian tribes and specifically Navajo Nation are getting hit hard by COVID-19. For months, Natives Outdoors has been donating masks and hand sanitizer to its partner communities.
A number of tribes require tribal members to wear masks when going into public. However, many do not have access to sewing equipment or other means to create reusable facemasks. In a number of these communities access to running water remains a challenge and also access to soap and other cleaning supplies.
Any money gathered in excess of these needs will be donated to one of the 501c3’s listed in its vetted list.
Stay updated on Natives Outdoors’ good work by following along through its Instagram.
Dr. Len Necefer, Ph.D., is an assistant professor with joint appointments with the American Indian Studies program & the Udall Center for Public Policy. He is also the founder & CEO of Natives Outdoors, a Native American Owned Outdoor Apparel & Media Company.
Len spent the formative years of his life in Lawrence, Kansas & Tsaile, Arizona. He also split time between his family on Navajo land in the southwest and his Romanian and Scottish families in Detroit, Michigan – Navajo medicine people & blue-collar auto workers. His current work focuses at the intersection of indigenous people, natural resource management and Type II fun.
Len is a climber, skier and cyclist using storytelling to covey stories about environmental activism and indigenous histories of our public lands. His work has appeared in academic journals, the Alpinist, Climbing, and film festivals across the world.
Photos: Tara Kerzhner, courtesy of Natives Outdoors
Sam Elias is a climber and a skier living in Salt Lake City, Utah. He was born around Detroit, Michigan, and it is where his family still resides. His father immigrated from Syria and his maternal grandparents were all from Poland. He has skied since he was 2 years old, and went to college in Idaho on a ski racing scholarship. He graduated in 2004 majoring in biology and art.
Sam was first ushered into the world of climbing by Planet Rock Climbing Gym and its community in the Detroit area during summers home from college. That foundation was cemented by Miguel’s Pizza and the Red River Gorge community in 2005 when he moved there to live for climbing. He has worked a variety of jobs within the climbing and greater outdoor industry as he was developing as a climber, and in 2012 he was able to start living as a full-time athlete and brand ambassador, which he has been doing to this day.
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic Len mobilized resources to support his home community on the Navajo Nation and multiple other native communities in the Southwest. These resources included much needed masks and other sanitation supplies desperately needed in these communities. It was during this period that Sam & Len connected through mutual friends in the climbing community and soon learned of their shared blue-collar upbringings. Now, the two Detroit natives are working together to give back to communities in need.
The word وحدة (wahda) in Arabic is beautifully curious. Like life itself, it contains paradox and tension. It can mean alone, unit, unity, collective, identity, togetherness, oneness, loneliness, singularity, solitude, isolation, and/or community.
Our identity is relational. In Otherness, we have an opportunity to glimpse a reflection of ourself. These reflections from the world around us can help to deepen our sense not only of our unique soul and the fact that it is nothing without everything else, but also that there is Sameness with The Other.
These reflections are offered through interactions with other people, but also the broader natural world — the animals and the land, the moon and the stars. The connections are there for us to find with active belief and intentional seeking, but require that we can still and slow in varying and often difficult ways. Belonging is earned. It’s a kind of trust, and it’s fluid. Seeking and finding can be the same if we pay close enough attention.
FIND YOUR PACK is a tribute to this, and to individuality and community, and the tension that exists in trying to live life reciprocally honoring both our unique spirit and the spirits of everything else — as gracefully, harmoniously, and fluidly as possible.