Jewel has partnered with the Orenda Tribe and Wonders Around the World for a Valentine’s Day fundraiser for the Navajo Nation in New Mexico. The event will support the Diné Skate Garden Project, which is raising funds to build a culturally inspired skate park and garden in Grey Hills, New Mexico.
Along with performances by Jewel and indigenous artist Tia Wood, the event will feature speakers on the transformative effect skateboarding has had on youth members of the tribe.
“[These] kids have faced so many hardships through this pandemic,” event organizer and Orenda Tribe member Amy Deung Deal (Yeung) says. “This skate garden would give our youth a space to feel joy. The joy of skateboarding. To grow strong and resilient. To process their thoughts. To expand their mind. Many of our Diné kids live in remote communities, with little to no recreation areas. So we’d love to provide a public space where they can enjoy a year-round sport. A place where all the community can come together and support our kids, and be part of bringing positive change.”
Jewel tells Rolling Stone that she initially became interested in the Orenda Tribe through their up-cycled fashion accounts on Instagram, but grew more aware of their activism through their response to the pandemic.
“I decided to join forces and help any way I could,” she says. “As an Alaskan, I had the honor of being very close to many Inuit, as well as other tribes. It was easy to see their culture and ways were beautiful, and also that it was in critical danger of being erased. Indigenous cultures are grossly underrepresented in pop culture and media, and their history and treatment is not even known in America. It’s an honor to serve alongside Amy to bring this skate garden so the children of this area know they are valued, supported and loved.”
“We were vulnerable even before COVID 19 hit,” Deal (Yeung) adds. “Access to running water, electricity, housing conditions, access to masks, resources, were just part the reason our relatives were so impacted by Dikos Ntsaaígíí-19. Covid-19. The Two Grey Hills/Toadlena community where we are building this skate garden is in a remote area near the Chuska Mountains. By building a outdoor sport facility here we are helping kids that are normally overlooked, kids that will thrive if we give them the tools to success.”
The benefit will be livestreamed on Sunday at 12:00 p.m. PT/3:00 p.m. ET on Jewel’s YouTube page and produced by Orenda Tribe. In addition to the event, donations can be made through the fundraiser’s accompanying auction and merchandise store.
On Friday, Jewel released a four-LP vinyl reissue of her 1996 album Pieces of You, following the initial CD release this past November.
“Listening back to these songs, I hear a lot of courage, although I didn’t feel courageous at the time,” she says of the reissue. “I was scared, homeless, having panic attacks and shoplifting, yet I didn’t want to kill myself. So I had to ask myself one question: Now what? I began writing songs about now what, and what strikes me now is that I wrote 1,000 words that changed my life. Those 1,000 words would go on to grow into an anthem for a generation who were losing our heroes to suicide and addictions — and we all began asking ourselves, now what? We are in pain, now what? It’s still what motivates me to write. And sadly suicide rates have come to an all-time high, which is what inspired me to write the album I’m currently working on. But I owe that first album everything I have today. Twelve songs of optimistic feminine defiance in a cynical sexist grunge age that changed the entire trajectory of my life.”