Apryl Joe


“In many Native American cultures, circles have significance. Specifically, in Diné culture, movements in a clockwise motion are purposeful. These practices are sacred, they connect us to the natural world. But what happens if your circle is damaged? In social work, we talk about cycles…cycles of abuse, violence, poverty, etc. Each of these cycles represent suffering and yet they rotate in clockwise motion. It makes me wonder, how can a circle be healed?

Growing up I felt ashamed of who I was. There was a lack of positive and truthful representation of my identities and my family upbringing in society, which made me dislike who I was. This combined with witnessing/experiencing unhealthy relationships, made me feel lost about my identity.

In my adult life, I found healing in reconnecting to my Diné culture. My partner in life deserves a lot of credit for encouraging us to return to our community many years ago. Learning how to introduce myself in Diné was one of the most empowering experiences of my life. Understanding my people’s history and culture filled a gap that had been missing.

More recently, I have been doing my own trauma work. It has been extremely emotional to uncover things that I have tucked away for most of my life. As challenging as this has been, when I think about healing circles, I know this is the path I am supposed to be on.

My partner has been a significant supporter of my life goals. I believe our relationship as a Diné couple is revolutionary. As a team, he is helping me break the cycle of unhealthy relationships. We are both passionate about Native language and culture revitalization. Reclaiming what was forcibly taken from our people is empowering. It gives me hope that the future will be Indigenized.”