Reclaiming Birth Rights
Birthing a business is a challenge. This is a point shared by Community of Practice guest speaker, Nicolle Gonzales during our recent gathering. As founder and the phenomenal force behind the Changing Woman Initiative, Nicolle’s work is focused on reconnecting Indigenous women to traditional birthing practices through expanding health care.
I often tell folx I meet how sharing space with Nicolle is like catching lightning in a bottle. This phrase is one I feel fits as in Dine’ cosmovision, lightning is a natural force filled with great protective medicine. Nicolle’s work, presence and energy is a calming salve many Indigenous women bask in when they work with CWI. Since founded, her organization has been growing support from allies across the country. The power of this effort has meant greater access to traditional birthing practices for many families. At the CoP gathering, Nicolle shared how 2019 was a growing year for her. Further proof was how she arrived at our meeting straight from the airport after flying cross-country to return home after sharing CWI’s work on the east coast.
Nicolle is unapologetic about sharing the realities of this world’s treatment of Indigenous women and is unabashed about the lessons she learns while building her organization. Native women have long been ignored by western medicine creating deep wounds for generations of women who have been maligned by lack of healthcare. What the Changing Women Initiative represents is an organization filled with “for us by us” spirit. One which centers and helps restore birth knowledge for families and communities. Much of this wisdom has been interrupted in many communities because of settler colonialism.
In my lifetime, my awareness and access to my own community’s birth knowledge has grown. I now know multiple Indigenous doulas and birth assistants that I can contact as direct result of the work of Nicolle’s business. Her work is stewarding a renaissance in Indian Country and it is such a beautiful resistance I am personally grateful to witness.