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As Big Ocean Women we define a mother as any woman who has the best interest of the rising generation at heart. Our friend, Karyn Denny, is a mother both to her own children and to her Navajo community in Farmington, New Mexico. The importance of family and motherhood is woven into her cultural identity. The Navajo are a matriarchal people. Karyn says “Motherhood is the biggest responsibility in our culture. We have ceremonies and prayers for families.”

The traditions of her mothers are carried forward through Karyn. She loves being a mother to her daughter, Katherine, and son, Tommy. Her family is her everything (“I am literally nothing without them.”) and she looks forward to gathering around the dinner table with them each night. It is there with her loud and silly kids that she can recalibrate. “They really ground and support me,” she says. Raising her children has been significant in Karyn’s personal development. She says, “I feel I am changing as they grow and their needs change and differ.” Her great hope for them is that they will confidently pursue their dreams and be “honest, humble, and hardworking citizens.”

Karyn with Elisabeth

True to the model of powerful impact Karyn exemplifies dedicated citizenship through her work as a Legislative District Assistant for the Navajo Nation. She and her team “are working on helping chapter communities on the Navajo Nation with access to clean water,” which she says is one of the most pressing issues in her community due to drought or contamination. When she leaves her home for work she leaves to mother her neighbors. Her dream is for “communities on the Navajo Nation to tap into their personal empowerment and work together” to develop their communities. This is her dream for the rising generation.

As women we each have the privilege of creating a bridge between our forebears and our progeny. We can draw strength from our histories and sow our own dream for the rising generation.