The Juliette Interviews: Amy Denet Deal
Amy Denet Deal gives “coming home” an exceptional new meaning. After a successful fashion career in Los Angeles, Amy returned to her Diné (Navajo) roots and created a brand that truly gives back. Inspired by the Southwest, Amy gave birth to 4KINSHIP, a new brand of Diné (Navajo) owned sustainable artwear dedicated to producing handmade, one of a kind, restored, repurposed and lovingly upcycled, artisanal and small batch products. When Amy relocated to New Mexico in 2019 to reintegrate with her tribe, she spent 2020 helping to provide mutual aid relief for relatives on Navajo Nation and discovered that there is a critical need for infrastructure improvement in the community.
JH: What was the biggest motivation for re-integrating back into the Navajo Nation?
AD: To get the chance in my lifetime to learn my indigenous culture. I was adopted in the 60s before the Indian Child Welfare Act so there are many children like me that never had the connection to our culture or clans since we were all adopted to non-native families. After my daughter graduated from high school, I was ready to start the journey home and begin again.
JH: Did you face any challenges when you integrated back?
AD: Coming home is to accept all the beauty and wonder of our culture, but also to experience the darkness and grief my tribe and relatives have been through. Growing up in the non-native world I didn’t have any tools or teachings to prepare me for that, so it’s been a hard road, but it’s all part of the journey.
JH: After a career in fashion how is your day-to-day different now?
AD: The wealth I create at this point in my career is to find creative solutions for community needs and mutual aid. So there is a joyfulness knowing that there is purpose behind all I do.
JH: What do you think is the most critical need that the Dine are facing during this pandemic?
AD: The critical need is to find sustainable solutions and not just bandaids to fix the problems. The pandemic has exposed our weaknesses, but also it has exposed our strength in community, in our kinship of working together to create impactful change.
JH: When did you realize that there was a major need for infrastructure improvement within the Dine Navajo Nation?
AD: The first time I visited relatives with no running water or electricity 14 years ago. It’s as shocking now as it was then.
JH: How can people get involved to help assist the Dine Navajo Nation?
AD: They should get in involved in causes that speak to their heart. Ask questions. Give your time. Provide resources. Amplify to create more awareness. 4KINSHIP is here to help you find your pathway, just email us.
JH: How does 4Kinship give back?
AD: Since the pandemic 4KINSHIP that has raised over $1 Million in mutual aid funding, served over a million servings of food, and keep our relatives safe with over a million units of PPE distributed. In the fall of 2022, we will be building our first skatepark on Navajo Nation in Two Grey Hills, NM, as we continue to look at ways to create sustainable futures for our youth. The most important things we can give is our time.
JH: Are other tribes facing similar issues?
AD: I can only speak from my experience, but know many of my friends from other tribes have similar inequity.
JH: Since you have decided to dedicate the rest of your life to raising awareness of the Dine Navajo Nation, what does retirement look like for you?
AD: Retirement is not part of our culture. I hope to live and contribute until I go back to our mother (earth). But when my body slows down I’ll be living in a Hogan(traditional Diné structure) in Two Grey Hills, and walking down to the skate park to watch the kids and smile knowing I played some small part in their lives.