TG&H sits down with Amy Denet Deal, Diné (Navajo People). Amy discusses her journey home to New Mexico at 55, starting a business that supports other artists and how she hopes to create change for her community.
Growing up, Amy had no knowledge of her cultural roots. In the 1960’s, her mom was one of the Native American youths convinced to leave the reservation under the Indian Relocation Act. Amy’s mother was given a one-way bus ticket to Cleveland where she had no family, job, or money, and she got pregnant. Charities adopted the baby, Amy, and in that instant her Native American culture was erased from her life until 2019 when she was 55 years old.
In 2019, when Amy’s own daughter left for college, Amy knew the time was right to return to her ancestral home and she moved from California to New Mexico where she opened the first native-owned fashion retail store in Albuquerque. Months later, Covid shutdown the world and took a massive toll on the Navajo Nation. Amy sprang into action and turned her store into an aid post providing over $1 million in supplies to her community. Now, she is using her fashion brand to create sustainable change and leave a legacy of opportunity for Navajo youth. Her brand, 4KINSHIP, sells upcycled vintage clothing at the only native-owned retail shop in Santa Fe, NM and the profits are used for community projects like a skate part that she recently opened with Tony Hawk.
Amy is not only on a mission to create opportunities for the Navajo Nation, but she is also fighting for change in New Mexico. According to the NM Department of Tourism, the state saw $7.2 billion in revenue in 2021. This is a problem Amy says because while many tourists come to experience Native American culture, the reality is most businesses selling native goods are not owned by Native people. Amy wants to create change through grants and programs that will help Native American entrepreneurs build local businesses in the state, a mission she lives daily by selling other Native artists’ goods in her store and by only hiring Native creatives for content projects she does for other brands including fashion photos shoots.