Jolie Varela

Jolie Varela

Founder, Indigenous Women Hike


Summer 2022

Jolie Varela (she/her) is a citizen of the Tule River Yokuts and Nüümü (Paiute) Nations. She currently resides in her maternal homelands of Payahuunadü also known as the Owens Valley. She grew up on the Bishop Indian reservation fishing and swimming the creeks with her cousins. In 2017 she founded Indigenous Women Hike. Indigenous Women Hike aims to regenerate the relationship between the land and its original people, while consequently decolonizing the history of Indigenous territories.

What excites you about your work?

All of the growth that is possible.

What feels rich and abundant in your work right now?

The amount of people who would like to take part in it.

Who do you dedicate your work to?

My work is dedicated to the Native community of Payahuunadü and our future generations.

Where are you drawing inspiration from these days?

I’m inspired by my elders and the knowledge they hold. I’m also really inspired by people like my sister Autumn Harry who does so much good in her community. I’m excited to read Decolonizing Trauma Work, Fire Keeper’s Daughter, Red Nation Rising, The New Jim Crow.

What something you didn’t know, that now you understand differently with wellness?

I think I know this but I have a hard time doing it in my own life—you have to take care of your own well-being before you can fully commit to helping others. Sometimes we get burnt out and things can be overwhelming, especially when we can’t take time for ourselves and our own wellness. It’s difficult when there is so much to do and a lot of people look to you for support.

What is your own wellness practice? How do you find balance?

I do my best to take time for myself and to rest. It’s hard but important. I go to the gym and make sure to move my body. I take time out of my day to pray and ask creator to watch over my family and loved ones.

How can people reading this support the work you are doing?

They can follow the Indigenous Women Hike Instagram page to learn more about the Native history of so-called public lands. Through the IWH we have two main fundraising events during the year that help to support the Paiute Youth Council and other Programs that support the wellness of the community.

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