Skateboarding is one of the most exciting sports anyone can take on, and 24-year-old Naiomi Glasses absolutely agrees.
Naiomi, a young woman from the Navajo tribe, loves to skateboard. However, living in the Navajo Reservation filled with gorgeous mountains and cliffs also meant having a lack of pavement.
There were also only five skate parks in the entire area, and the nearest one was hours away from her Rock Point, Arizona, home.
Skate shops were also rare; one would have to travel two to three hours off the reservation to a border town to pick up a skateboard.
“It’s quite the journey to be a skateboarder on the reservation,” she admitted.
But Naiomi didn’t let these geographical disadvantages keep her from pursuing her passion.
“I would see these sandstones and I was like ‘I wonder if I could skate that,’” she said. “So then one day I was just like ‘you know what, let me just try it, if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work.’”
And it worked.
Naiomi has been showing off her skateboarding skills on the reservation on TikTok, where her videos have gone viral.
She has amassed a following of over 38.1K on the platform, while her Instagram has more than 72.7K followers. With her growing audience, Naiomi hopes that a new skate park can be built in their area.
Naiomi first got into skateboarding when she was only five years old. She saw her older brother’s friend skateboarding and was immediately interested. With her mother’s guidance, she picked it up and practiced skateboarding in their kitchen.
She struggled with bullying at school, and her newfound hobby became a tool for her to gain confidence in herself.
“When I was six, I was bullied a lot. I have a bilateral cleft pallet and lip, so kids would bully me and I got really down. So, whenever I would skate, it was my one time to decompress as a little kid.”
Ever since learning how to do it, the Diné woman hasn’t gotten off the board.
“I’m not a professional at all, by any means, I just like to ride around,” she said. “It’s very freeing for me.”
Despite the lack of pavement, skateboarding is surprisingly popular among the Navajo tribe. Fortunately, the people from the reservation will have a place to practice their skateboarding skills soon.
Orenda Tribe, a clothing brand with heavy Navajo influence, has teamed up with Naiomi to build a new skate park in Two Grey Hills, which is only two hours away from Glasses’ community.
“I love skateboarding so much and I would just love to bring that joy and love of it to other communities,” she said.
The project is starting to attract some publicity, and the Orenda Tribe is getting a lot of assistance from different people, one of them being the legendary Tony Hawk!
If all goes according to plan, skateboarding enthusiasts from the Navajo tribe wouldn’t have to drive for hours just to get to the nearest skate park.
Naiomi hopes that she can properly represent and share the indigenous culture with the rest of the world and show other Navajo children that they can do anything while living on the reservation.
“’T’áá hwó’ ají t’éego t’eya.’ ‘Life is what you make it,’ go out there and be strong, be bold and be confident. Be true to who you are,” she said.
The skate park project is expected to begin construction this fall. A second phase will include the creation of a community garden focused on traditional agriculture and harvesting.
Learn more about this skateboarding enthusiast in her video interview with KRQE below.
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