Lyla June Johnston [Tatah Uha Omani] is an indigenous Turtle Islander Diné woman [what Americans call 'Navajo'].. Actually, a descendant of Diné and Tsétsêhéstâhese (Cheyenne), and European lineages.
Her "All Nations Rise" song, which she sung first at a Unity concert in the Black Hills in South Dakota (Lakota country), captured the hearts of people across the world, especially when combined with the phenomenal visual of her walking strong and proud, in wilderness in her traditional attire.
When I was first alerted to this video/song, I listened and watched it on refrain. At some point my curiosity about this woman, this originator, was piqued to the point that I went seeking background story. We could hardly be surprised and yet we were utterly heartened to discover a multi-faceted diamond of a person, in her writings. in her work, in her visionary courage.
Lyla June writes:
"To allow the essence of love to breath and speak through us, this is writing for peace. It is to know that even if this poem[song] brightens just one person’s day, then it was all worth it. To write for peace is to serve humanity and in doing so strengthen our own capacity to love. When we tap into this explosive force of compassion, this is when the muse can truly work through us and make each word a prayer for all things." Writing For Peace
Eric Garza first learned of Lyla June, not from 'All Nations Rise" but from her epic essay:
The Story of How Humanity Fell in Love with Itself Again
In this essay Lyla June writes:
"...I have been called a half breed. I have been called a mutt. Impure. I have been told my mixed blood is my bane. That I’m cursed to have an Indian for a mother and a cowboy for a father.
But one day, as I sat in the ceremonial house of my mother’s people, a wondrous revelation landed delicately inside of my soul. It sang within me a song I can still hear today. This song was woven from the voices of my European grandmothers and grandfathers. Their songs were made of love.
They sang to me of their life before the witch trials and before the crusades. They spoke to me of a time before serfdoms and before Roman tithes. They spoke to me of a time before the plague; before the Medici; before the guillotine; a time before their people were extinguished or enslaved by dark forces. They spoke to me of a time before the English language existed. A time most of us have forgotten..."
Podcast interview with Eric Garza: Intergenerational Trauma and Making Peace With European Heritage, with Lyla June