By Jontelle Cabral
To activate change in a society, it has to start with one person.
“Always put a focus on community,” said writer, blogger, and educator Cutcha Rising Badly. “It really helps to support native people and native nations. It really calls attention to the fact that there is a lot that we stand for and could learn about the role of native peoples in this contemporary society.”
Most do not know about Native American heritage and what goes on currently in the Native American community, so being an assistant professor at HSU of Native American Studies, blogger, and published writer, Badly was able to help people open their eyes.
Being born and raised in Humboldt County and a member of the Hoopa tribe, Badly was constantly surrounded by family, so it was easy to get to ceremonies and all the reservations. She made a life for herself in Humboldt County with her husband and 9-year-old daughter.
Before her job as assistant professor of Native American Studies, Baldy did a lot of consulting for different tribes, worked with non-profits, and government agencies. Everyone always asked her questions about tribes, how it works, and sovereignty. She realized that people don’t really have a place to ask these sorts of questions.
“This is something I like doing,” she said. “I like the part where I have to go and talk to people and train them. It was sort of a very natural fit.”
Badly says that she loves to work with her students and talk with them and help find them new things that they are interested in and passionate about. Emily Owen, a student in Badly’s Native American Studies class, thinks very highly of Baldy along her other students.
“I view her as a really strong, powerful source of wisdom and knowledge,” said Owen. “She relates what’s happening now to her students in a way it’s extremely accessible. She can talk about very heavy and loaded subjects that people are not familiar with but she makes easy to absorb and understand.”
Baldy’s educating doesn’t stop on a college campus. She has inspired many with her work online as well. Baldy has countless blogs, some viral, that she put up on her website.
“If I die, put this in my obituary,” said Badly.
In 2014, her blog post, “Why I Teach the Walking Dead in my Native American Studies Classes” was published. It stuck some kind of nerve, said Badly. More than a million people have read this and it has been translated and featured in articles and books. It created a lot of positive traffic for her and the Native American community.
“I flipped the script, you know, some people would assume that the Indian people who be zombies and then there are the settlers, but in my view, the settlers are the zombies,” she said. “The Indian people are the survivors.”
Kayla Begay, Badly’s cousin and also assistant professor of Native American studies, read the piece and said that it was just a good way to give people to understanding to the history of Native Americans.
“It’s an entry way,” Begay said. “You’re looking at a societal collapse. That’s what happened to us, we are post apocalyptic in a way. It draws it out so people can say ‘I understand that now, a little more’.”
Baldy’s also about publish her book called “no:’olchwin-ding, no:’olchwin-te” (“To Grow Old In A Good Way): The Revitalization of Women’s Coming of Age Ceremonies as Decolonizing Praxis.” Angel Hinzo, Colege and long time friend of Badly, cited this book and helped her through a few things in the process.
“She is a very smart and intellectual person,” Hinzo said. “She’s always so encouraging and wants me to do something like that.”
Her book is based on the research of the revitalization of women’s coming of age ceremonies because they are important to rebuild them and demonstrate self-determination and sovereignty.
In the early 2000s, the ceremony became reality again. Begay at age 14 was the first girl to do the full public ceremony, and ever since 2001, they have been doing it ever since.
“The books really explores revitalization as important to understand the role of women in indigenous cultures,” Badly said. “It kind of tells a different story about what happened in history and it kind of calls into question the way people believe indigenous cultures are primitive because it shows that they had this very advanced knowledge about the importance of women in our communities.”