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The ANA Messenger: The Economic Development Issue

Winter 2012

Published: March 8, 2013
Social and Economic Development Strategies (SEDS), All

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Getting to Know Us
Tyanne Benallie

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  1. Tyanne BenallieCan you provide us with some background and what lead you to work for ANA?
    Ya’át’ééh, shí  Tyanne Benallie (Ty) yinishyé.  My passion for the Native American/Indigenous population holds a special place in my heart.  I am of the Diné (Navajo) people, born for the Tó’áhaní (Edge of the Water clan) and born into the Nashashí (Bear People Clan), my maternal grandmother is Tsi'naajinii (Black Streak in the Wood clan) and my paternal grandfather is Naakaii Dine’é (Mexican-Navajo Clan).  I was born in Tsé’Bit’a’í (Shiprock, New Mexico) and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  My family originates from the Huerfeno area of Dinétah (Navajo Land).  At age 18, I pursued my education outside of New Mexico earning both a BA in Political Science, Fort Lewis College (2006) and an MA in International Development & Social Change, Clark University (2009).  For the past eight years, my education and work has been devoted to working with Native Americans, advocating for the social, economic, education and environmental well-being of communities.  I am pleased and excited to continue my work with the American Indian/Indigenous populations.  Since the role of ANA is to provide grants and assistance in these areas, I find it very exciting to be working in an office that supports my overall goal of assisting Tribal communities in environment, education, language preservation and social economic grants.
  2. I know you have just started with ANA, but what do you enjoy most about your job so far?
    Coming from afar, it is nice to be welcomed into the ANA family.  I have received a warm welcoming from the ANA office/staff.  The staff has made a long-lasting impression on me.  It is nice to see every person in the office shares the same vision for the American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander populations.  Most importantly, it feels great working with others who share the same vision and provide great energy. 
  3. Can you share with our readers your thoughts on the importance of language and culture, and perhaps how language and culture have been an influence in your life?
    Growing up multi-lingual has been a fascinating experience.  I grew up speaking English and Navajo, and started learning Spanish at age 7.  Having been exposed to both the Diné and Spanish language has helped me to understand the importance of self-identification.  Knowing three languages has been very useful in my education and career path.  For instance, having been away from New Mexico for nearly 10 years, and returning to work on the Navajo reservation, I picked up the Navajo Language easily.  I strongly believe this is due to exposure to the Diné language at an early age.  I am a huge advocate for early childhood language and cultural preservation programs.  Understanding and identifying with your language and culture plays a significant role in self-identification, and also helps to sustain a community in years to come.  Even though, I have lived and traveled elsewhere, no matter what, I am New Mexican and from Dinétah.
  4. What are some of your interests or hobbies?  What do you like to do most in your free time?
    By nature I am a curious and adventurous person, and have many interests.  The three things I enjoy most are traveling, running/fitness and the arts.  I enjoy world adventures and traveling for pleasure.  I have been to 24 countries and still counting.  Running is a passion of mine, and I enjoy running in various places.  I will miss running in the mountains.  However, running at sea level has been a piece of cake due to the change in elevation (let’s see how long that will last).  When I am not traveling or running, I am taking photos with my camera, hanging out with my four-legged kid, doing downward dogs in Yoga studios, watching movies/live music/theatre, and hanging out at the local coffee shop reading a good book. 
  5. Is there anything else you would like to share? 
    I am forever grateful that my parents instilled the power of education.  They always emphasized the importance of education.  I strongly believe that education is a solution to breaking the cycle of poverty. Providing mentorship, guidance and encouraging the importance of education is something that I want to continue to pursue for Native communities.  Showing the younger generation that education is a solution to breaking the poverty cycle will not only benefit the individual but an entire community.

    Ahé’hee’ (Thank you)

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Last Reviewed: October 18, 2016