December 2023 AOTM: Jordan Marie DanielDec 01, 2023
Welcome back to TWN’s Athlete of the Month! Each month we are highlighting athletes in our network to share what they have accomplished outside of sports, their contribution to the athletic community, and more! Make sure to check out our socials and weekly newsletter to learn more about the athlete, what motivates them, and how to contribute to their cause.
Our December Athlete of the Month is Jordan Marie Brings Three White Horses Daniel!
Jordan is a citizen of Kul Wicasa Oyate (Lower Brule Sioux Tribe) as well as a passionate and devoted advocate for Indian Country and all people. She is nationally known for her advocacy and grassroots organization for anti-pipelines/climate justice efforts, change the name/not your mascot, the epidemic and crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives (MMIR), and native youth initiatives.
She is the founder and organizer of Rising Hearts, an Indigenous led grassroots group devoted to elevating Indigenous voices and promoting intersectional collaborative efforts across all movements with the goals of racial, social, climate, and economic justice.
Currently, Jordan is using her running platform to help raise awareness of missing and murdered Indigenous relatives by dedicating the miles she runs to a missing or murdered Indigenous person. This movement she created, called #RunningForJustice, is now intersecting this effort and prayers for Black lives, Asian lives, and other lives impacted by white supremacy, racism, and systems of oppression, as well as calling an end to police brutality.
She is a professional runner with Janji, and sits on the Board or Advisory Councils of ReNew Earth Running, Outdoorist Oath, Seeding Sovereignty, and Runner’s for Public Lands. Jordan also consults on documentaries as Indigenous advocate, and serves as a Producer and Director on films focused on Indigenous Earth Protectors, runners, and supporting families impacted by MMIR.
She served as Co-Director and Producer for two recent films, Know to Run, and Run to Be Visible. Both highlight the power of representation and the impact made when a community is included in spaces that lack diversity.
The first episode of the series Know to Run features the story of Yatika Starr Fields, an Indigenous runner, artist and advocate. The film celebrates several firsts for Indigenous communities in the running space, and how to make the running and outdoor community a more accessible and equitable place.
In the film Run to Be Visible, Lydia Jennings shares the journey she took to run 50 miles in honor of the Indigenous scientists and knowledge keepers who came before her. Lydia is a member of the Huichol (Wixaritari) and Pascua Yaqui (Yoeme) Nations and holds a doctorate in soil microbiology. She hopes to create more inclusive academic and environmental landscapes.
Jordan’s producer and director work aims to help transform the film industry and increase the representation of Indigenous, POC and marginalized voices. She aims to always prioritize their voices and their stories in the filmmaking process. You can check out all of the incredible films that Jordan has been a part of on her website here.
JORDAN x TACKLE WHAT'S NEXT
We were lucky enough to have Jordan join us for a conversation during our Athlete Impact Summit in 2021.
Jordan joined a fireside chat focused on how to continue the momentum around impact. Once things get more awareness in the public eye, how do we know if we are actually making progress? And how do we actually leverage that awareness and public fervor to create change? She highlighted the pressure many athletes face to speak out and stand up for things, or to find something to support with their platform.
“Don't feel bad if you haven't figured it out. Don't feel bad if you haven't found your purpose, or that you haven't become an advocate or an activist. Don't put that pressure on yourself. There will be a certain moment in your life that you will realize what you want to fight for.”
She also talks about the importance of being genuine when advocating for causes, and working alongside those already in the space to make sure you are not recreating the wheel.
“When you want to be a meaningful ally or advocate, you come into the space wanting to find out what your passion is. What are you willing to stand for or against? Then do the work of becoming knowledgeable in that. Find all the resources and organizations talking about this. Then start showing up and being consistent."
We also welcomed Jordan on an episode of our Big League Philanthropist podcast to chat with her about being an advocate and what philanthropy means to her.
On the show, Jordan discusses the impact of intersectionality and creating change in the spaces you take up. She talks about how she has used her platform as a professional runner to launch campaigns like #RunningForJustice, and raise awareness for the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives.
"Running was originally for me about family, about this tradition, this legacy. Then in high school and college it transformed into the lack of representation of native runners and even just people of color within the running community. Now, it's native representation within running too.”
Jordan also talked about creating Rising Hearts and the journey to building that up into the advocacy organization that it is today. When it comes to philanthropy, here’s how Jordan defines the term:
“Philanthropy is about being able to give back to the community. That can take a lot of different creative forms. For Rising Hearts, one of the biggest things is how we can give back and invest in the community, because so many people have shown up for us."
Thank you so much Jordan for coming on the podcast and being a part of our summit. It’s so inspirational to hear how you have used your platform as a runner to highlight and raise awareness for causes that matter to you.
OUR FULL INTERVIEW WITH JORDAN MARIE DANIEL:
Why did you create Rising Hearts?
I created Rising Hearts to help increase representation of Indigenous voices and organizers during the Standing Rock movement and fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline on Piscataway + Nacotchtank Lands | Washington DC in January 2017. We primarily were focused on grassroots community organizing, collaborating with local and national groups, and helping to strengthen intersectionality across our communities and movements. Since the murder of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, Rising Hearts pivoted during the pandemic to embody a teaching and way of being, Mitakuye Oyasin - “we are all related” (Lakota translation).
Now, still an Indigenous led organization, we created 5 programs through different forms of movement, to center Indigenous Peoples, to become more informed and inclusive of all diverse communities and movements, to kinship build, and make an impact together, for the people today and the next generations.
Why do you think running is such a powerful tool for you to serve as an advocate?
Running is important for not only our health and wellbeing, but it can serve as a communication pathway for the things we care so much about. For me, it's bringing awareness to Indigenous Peoples, the missing and murdered Indigenous Peoples epidemic, the celebratory moments happening in our communities and the issues we face as we try to bring community with us to push for change and better. Sports brings so many together. While some may think that politics / issues need to stay out of sports, so many appreciate what they see, learn and how they can support.
What has being an athlete taught you about the work you are doing now?
It's taught me patience. It's shown me how amazing community is and can be. And it's taught me that we create a better world for what so many are fighting for when we are able to be together and communicate.
What is the most important thing you've done to grow as a person outside of your sport?
The most important thing I've done, and continue to do, is to always be open to learn, to listen, to have compassion, and to not let my trauma impact the way I work. I believe we are all capable of growing and changing. I don't believe in an all or nothing approach or result. Things take time when you're pushing for change and when trying to build kinship across communities and movement spaces, it takes time to have these conversations, to process, to learn, and to take action, even if it's with just one step, one action.
Have you ever struggled with your identity as an athlete? How do you work to embrace your athlete identity without it becoming your entire identity?
I've struggled as an athlete with being Indigenous, facing racism, prejudice and lateral oppression within the sport. I've been a runner my whole life and have been mostly known as "Jordan the Runner." Then over time, as I intersected running with advocacy, I have been calling myself an Athlete Advocate and love seeing that there are so many more! It takes practice to set boundaries, to prioritize my health and wellbeing, and ensure that I have safe and supportive pathways to decompress from the advocacy I do every day that protects my running and the advocacy work.
What advice do you have for athletes around moving on from sports to their next chapter?
It can be a little daunting and you may feel like you'll become invisible, but remember why you fell in love with the sport and you keep running or moving. We all have multiple passions. That's how we grow as a person and as a community. So in that next chapter, find what you're interested in and commit. If it doesn't workout, move onto the next one. If you find something you love and are passionate about, become knowledgeable about it and be that expert.
Being an activist is a buzzword in today's world. How do you define athlete activism and how should athletes start to think about using their platforms for good?
I don't use activist and don't like being referred to as an activist. I became a voice and community advocate and organizer in 2016 to support Standing Rock, and from then, I grew, my advocacy grew. Many people were being called "activists" and I feel like it's become a buzzword, diluted, and even viewed as negative - really taking away from the activists throughout history that inspired us to become who we are today and to speak truth to power. I've seen performative activism increase since 2016. It hurts the movements and efforts. I connect with Advocate more - it's rooted in community, in the constant cycle of staying informed and learning, and embodies the heart work we are passionate about.
Thanks again to Jordan for setting such an incredible example for others on how to use your platform to create an inclusive and authentic community advocating for what matters to you. The message she shares with all of us about not rushing to find our purpose is so important. We’re proud to highlight Jordan as our December Athlete of the Month.