Saturday, February 28, 2015


So much happened last year. So much so, I haven't been able to write a blog in a very long time. 
Since I wrote one for 2013, I'll write one for 2014. 

I got a new job. Now I'm an associate producer with Native America Calling radio program and I do what I really like to do. I research Native issues and topics and talk to Native professionals all day, every day. And I'm learning so much about Native America and it's ridiculous to know I've only scratched the surface.

I'm comfortable. I'm sitting here at my nice desk in my nice living room that's filled with leather furniture and colors that actually match. It smells nice in here and there's actually flowers in a vase on the table which is topped with nice place mats. There's a whole new set of matching plates in the cupboard and a $60 teapot on the stove. And I'm even thinking about printing some classy black and white photos of mine to hang on my walls. I've come a long way from thrift store dishes and second hand furniture to buying this sweater when it's not on sale. But I'm still thrifty and smart with my earnings, I think, and I'm always looking for ways we can cut back and save.    

I moved to a new city. Albuquerque is OK. There's crime and murder every day, but the range of food that's available is awesome. I'm living a lot closer to my family and I feel like I know them better. My parents are always here to visit and my sister comes often, too. Since I left home in 2006, I haven't been around many Natives. Now they're all over the place in Albuquerque and I catch myself staring. And I eavesdropped so hard on a family speaking Navajo at a Chinese restaurant across from the gym the other week. It felt good. 

I gained weight. Basically all the weight I lost in 2013 is back with a vengeance. I'm stuck. As hard as I try, the next week I'm back at the same weight. As hard as I try no to, I prefer to eat out all weekend. I've been lifting more weights, though. I have incredibly strong legs and glutes and I'm proud of them. Although I gained weight, I didn't put on those two dress sizes I lost in 2013. I'm just heavier. I like to think it's muscle. 

Which leads me to wrapping up:

Goals for 2015:
  • Lose that weight you gained back. 
  • Don't keep eating foods you don't enjoy just for the sake of eating and/or getting full.
  • Take more photos and print more photos. 
  • Camp and hike more. 
  • Move into a house. (I need a bigger kitchen! Who the hell fits in these tiny apartment kitchens!? I can't. I have food and dishes spilling out into the back rooms!)
  • Be more creative in the kitchen. And perfect that Afghan rice!  
  • Learn more about everything.
  • Read at least three books. 
  • Listen to more radio. 
  • Write more. Write creatively. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

New style

I've been a journalist (reporter, photographer and multimedia journalist) since 2007. From that first article completed in Journalism 101 I've probably written hundreds of articles. I used to keep track, but the list got unwieldy and neglected. During my time as a journalist, I wrote about happy times and sad times in the communities I was a part of; Crownpoint, Farmington, Great Falls, Fargo and Las Cruces. I've interviewed celebrities, chefs, teachers, soldiers, musicians, semi-pro bowlers, witnesses and farmers. I photographed 104-year-old feisty women, Special Olympians, ghosts, a sad widow, Eid and politicians. I've attended memorials, meetings, banquets, conferences, festivals, parties and moments of silence. That was my job as a reporter and I loved it. As a Native journalist I strived to write about Native American issues for the largely non-Native population that was my audience. These stories didn't come my way all the time, but when they did, they were so satisfying.

In April, I came across an opportunity to apply for a job with Native America Calling as an associate producer. In May, the executive producer invited me to Albuquerque for an in-person interview. In June, she invited me to be a part of their team. I accepted with a shaky voice that I tried hard to control. In July, I started working as an associate producer for Native America Calling radio program.

It's September now and I'm having so much fun at my job. I'm a different type of journalist now. I still do all the research and interviewing that I did as a reporter, but it's for radio broadcast. I don't leave the office much or take photos like I used to, but that's fine (photography is a hobby now).

Let me tell you why I can't wait to go to work on Mondays. I get to talk to Native doctors, educators, specialists, politicians and storytellers. I get to learn more about Native America culture, communities and ways of life. I thought I knew a lot about Native America, but I only really just touched the surface. There's so much more to know about the rest of the 560+ tribes out there. I love and appreciate the opportunity to learn about all the beautiful Native people out there.

I tell the stories that many others may not have heard before. I get to bring about topics that get Native and non-Native people thinking, which I hope will lead to action and change.

Telling our Native story is what I wanted to do since I found myself in that first journalist class back in 2007 and now I'm doing it. It's so rewarding to do what I do every day. And it's rewarding to work with the extremely smart people I work with, too. Thank you!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Little sister doing big things

I have one sibling. Alisha Murphy is my younger sister by a year. If you were to see us next to each other, you probably wouldn't say we're related. She's tall, thin and has a lot more hair than I do. I'm bigger and I can grow a set of fabulous nails that she can only dream about.

We were automatic best friends. Me and Lisha did everything together. She actually flew through some milestones a little faster than normal because she was always hanging around with me and doing the same things at the same time that I was. At a year younger, she learned to ride a bike without training wheels and the elementary school volleyball coach made an exception and allowed her on the team at the same time I started because we were inseparable.

In school I guess I was always the smart one who was student of the month every year and I joined the Gifted and Talented program as soon as I was old enough. My sister received her academic awards a little less often and joined the gifted program later than I did.

For college I went to Highlands University in Las Vegas, N.M. and she went to New Mexico State University the next year in 2007. By 2008, I joined her at NMSU and graduated in 2010. She graduated in 2012. I became a journalist right out of college and she decided to go to get her masters in social work at Washington University in St. Louis. It's 1,170 miles from Las Cruces and 1,160 from our home in Crownpoint and it's a totally different place.

I know she gets homesick and it hurts me too. It was a horrible time for me to part with her at the airport and leave her in St. Louis. I had never been away from her for this long before. Even when we were at NMSU together we lived together and shared everything. My heart slowly broke that week she started packing.

She's been in St. Louis for a few months and is now in her second semester at Washington University. She hasn't gotten used to the big city yet, and says she hates it, but her grades are good and she's on track to graduating (hopefully) some time next year.

She's going farther than anyone else has in our family. We are all so proud of her and we know she can do it. I know she wants to do a lot of good things for our tribe when she's ready and I can't wait until she is.

Here's what she has to say about going to school in St. Louis:

"I matter, I belong here and I am doing this to help my tribe in the future."
Alisha Murphy: There are moments of immense pride and accomplishment where I find myself extremely grateful and proud of myself, not to mention thankful for the support and love from my family. During this time I always start off thinking of all the things Mom and Dad provided for us. I think about how much they, too, have overcome and I am so grateful to have their support. 

Then I start to think about how much I have learned and how much I grew up. Although our (yours and mine) experiences are completely different, it seems I'm still learning and following in your footsteps. You are still my role model. 

Then I start thinking of how much I want to make my family proud. 

And then I start missing home because I am physically disconnected from home. Being here in the big city is fun and there are a lot of things to do, but the feeling of unfamiliarity overwhelms the excitement of being out and about in St. Louis. This overwhelming feeling happens more often than not. 

For as long as I've been here (since August 2013), I've come to realize that being a grad student is easy because learning is fun. But being away from home is the hard part. At times I was afraid that this fear would prevent and interfere with my performance and participation in school, but it hasn't. 

Since we started school, when we were little, no matter what was going on, our parents made sure school was the most important thing. I can be homesick and tired and losing my mind but school and my school work get done no matter what. 

As for being one of the few Navajo/Native students here at Washington University in St. Louis, every day is different. For example today, I was the only person to answer questions about tribes. 

Coming here I did not realize I would be one of the sole representatives of the Navajo people and Native Americans, especially when discussing certain topics and social issues. I did not know I would be put in that position, but I am. So another important lesson I've learned and have accepted is that just as much as I am a student, I am also educating others, a responsibility that I am happy to do. It's sometimes frustrating but I do it. I have to tell myself every day that I matter, I belong here and I am doing this to help my tribe in the future.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


The year 2013 was a year of many changes for me. It also seemed like a boring year because I didn't really do anything noteworthy, I didn't travel and nothing life changing happened. I work, I go to the gym, I clean my apartment on the weekends and I go to sleep early. But here are some positive things I'd like to share.

Physically better

You probably haven't seen me but I am a big girl. I'm 5-foot, 8-inches tall and a lot of pounds overweight. That's pretty much how all of us Murphy women are; we're towering women with large frames.
I have been overweight all my life and I came to a point back in 2011 when I hit my biggest size. The largest sizes in the clothing stores were getting tight on me. I would get pains in my back if I bent down the wrong way. When I played volleyball I didn't feel comfortable moving around. When I was naked I didn't even want to see myself. 
I didn't want to live that way anymore because I wasn't comfortable. I decided to change and get healthier in 2012 and in 2013 is when I really noticed the changes.
I started out small and that's how I've been going all year. I hear it's good to go slow and steady instead of jumping on a crazy diet with powder shakes, deprivation and resulting disappointment. I've lost about 45 pounds just by eating healthier and exercising almost every day. From where I was — almost bursting out of the largest sizes in my closet — I have lost about three dress sizes. I'm more comfortable and I have more energy to do physical things. I have also built up a lot of muscle and it feels like I don't "jiggle" around anymore. I love to feel the muscles in my legs and shoulders and I'm pretty confident I could carry a small person to safety if I had to. 
Forty-five pounds is not that much when you look at those who have lost 100 pounds or 80 pounds. I don't look entirely different, but I do look thinner in my face and upper body. I had to sew in most of my clothes and throw some out because they're too big on me. Heck, the pants I'm wearing now are a little baggy. 
I feel good. My cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure are good. I've changed my diet to include more fresh vegetables and vegetarian meals. I eventually want to become a vegetarian some day. In 2013 I haven't been eating that much meat. A lot of the time I go vegetarian in addition to two meatless days out of the week. In 2014 I want to try to eliminate meat. 


I've been sober for more than a year! I don't plan on going out for New Years because: A. I don't have any friends and I live here by myself. B. It's a big drunken holiday and I don't drink and I don't want to be killed by a drunken driver (I have also never ever been intoxicated or out of the house for New Years celebrations. It's weird how that worked out even through the years when I was up to drinking.)
Being sober was hard at first because I'm this 20-something-year-old with loads of energy and freedom. Eventually I settled into the idea and the restriction I set for myself and accepted it fully. I don't like alcohol now and am turned off by the idea of going into a bar where it smells like drunk people. 'Drunk people smell' is an awful smell to me, even before I stopped drinking.
In my mind alcohol is a waste of money and a bunch of empty calories that I don't need. The drink has caused so many problems for so many people that I know, it's not even funny. I've seen it ruin lives and kill folks back at home on the reservation. If you haven't read a past blog post of mine about sobriety, I said that I am not going to be a stereotypical drunk Indian because I may be the only Indian that a non-Indian is ever going to see in their lifetime and I sure as hell don't want to be a drunk one. I also said it's hard to be Native and American.
*clink* Here's to another year of being sober!

Lessons in love

I went through some emotionally rough times in 2013. Plans didn't work out, things didn't go my way and the worst things that could've happen, actually happened (my own Murphy's Law). I don't need to delve into them because it'll make me sad all over again. 
Living in Las Cruces alone only made the emotional turmoil worse. Although I've lived here for over four years, I haven't been able to make good friends who I could rely on in times like these. This only pushed me closer to my family and they showed me what it's all about. I can talk to my mom, dad, sister and boyfriend about anything. They talked me through the bad times and the good times. When I was feeling blue or happy, I shared it with them and they made me feel so much better. It's even better when we see each other in person.
I believe I have grown closer to my boyfriend in 2013 too. He may be a good-timing man but I'm a good-hearted woman and that just works well together. I couldn't ask for anything else. We had adventures that showed the worst and best parts of each other and that made this whole thing we have that much more special.


I believe I have gotten better at my job as a features writer. I have more confidence and have definitely taken on more responsibility and even got a well-deserved raise. I'm taking more of my own photos and making my own multimedia pieces to go along with the articles I write. I'm very proud of the pieces where I'm the writer, photographer and videographer. I see that as a gold star in my book because that means I know how to tell stories in more than one medium. Most reporters here don't do that. Heck, most journalists in the field don't do that.

I'm glad 2013 is over — in terms of the emotional ups and downs — because it only made me stronger. 
Next year looks promising and I can't wait to start planning things and fulfilling my New Years resolutions:
1. Stay sober
2. Eat about half as much meat as you did in 2013
3. Lose more weight and get healthier
4. Save about $2,000+ for something special
5. Take a well-deserved vacation
6. Do even better work at work (maybe buy yourself that ridiculously expensive camera you're been looking at)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


As I'm writing this article for Native American Heritage Month about Native languages and preservation, I can't help but feel left out. I talked to five different Natives who speak five different languages and I can't say something for myself as a Navajo. 

"The language is slowing dying because the United States government wanted to kill it"

I grew up in an English-speaking household where the only fluent Navajo speaker in our little circle of cousins, aunties, uncles and my dad's parents is my grandpa, who is a reserved man who has to speak English to the rest of us because we only know English. 

I'm pretty good at speaking, reading and writing in English, it's my job after all. For me, learning another language is the most challenging thing I've ever attempted and failed at. I tried to learn Navajo in a 101 college course at the local Navajo tribal college. It was so foreign to me and with my slight lisp, half of the words were a challenge to physically pronounce. And maybe my teachers were really bad, but it was way too fast for me to comprehend anything. I dropped out of these classes by the second week. 

Then I tried to learn Spanish, German and Japanese and I failed miserably each time. I fulfilled my foreign language requirements for college with American Sign Language, which by now I have mostly forgotten.

Because I live in New Mexico, I probably know more Spanish words than Navajo words and that makes me feel sort of sad. Everyone says you must know your language because that's part of being Navajo, but I don't know my language. Sometimes fluent speakers and elders get mad at me when they find out that I don't speak Navajo. It's not just me, either, it's all the Navajos out out there who can't speak. They get mad at us like it's our fault, like we didn't want to learn Navajo.

The language is slowing dying because the United States government wanted to kill it and the Native American culture 150 to 200 years ago, during the kill-the-Indian-save-the-man era, racism and genocide is what any Indian policy was about back then. My great-grandparents and grandparents were forced to go to boarding schools where they were forbidden from speaking their language and beaten and abused if they did. By the time I came around, the Murphy family was already a mostly English-speaking family. And with no fluent speakers to learn from, it's impossible to learn a language that has been dubbed one of the hardest languages to learn.

I'm not a rare case. Many Native grandparents went through boarding schools and lost their language. Many parents, who may speak Navajo, also prefer to teach their children English because it's only in English that one can function in the current society. I've seen this, but I believe a person can be a lot smarter if they learn two languages.

So in a tribe you have a lot of nonspeakers, fluent speakers, speakers who can hold a decent conversation, listeners who only understand but can't speak, speakers who can't fully understand what's spoken to them and writers and readers who can't speak. I know it's like that at home

It is a sad fact that our language is disappearing, but I see good changes and strong strides to revitalize it. In my time in public school, there weren't any Navajo or culture classes. After I graduated from high school, they added Navajo to the curriculum.

"But I am Navajo because I can feel it. I feel different and I think differently. I came from the Mother Land and lived there my whole life and my heart is still in Crownpoint."

I got into a confrontation with a man who claimed he was from some southern New Mexico Apache tribe, a fake, unrecognized 'tribe' not related to the actual Apache tribes (I found out it was a loose-knit group of urban 'Natives' whose 'members' didn't belong to a particular tribe but they identified as 'Native,' he said). This guy went on and on about "you're not Native American unless you know your language, even if you don't have a tribal enrollment card and you don't exactly belong to a federally recognized tribe." Bogus. He asked me if I knew my language and I said no. He said, "Than you're not Navajo."

That made me furious. My voice started shaking out of anger because he totally dismissed my whole family and the fact that our blood line that can be traced to no where else but here. His words also made me feel bad because I have almost nothing to show for myself as a Navajo woman. I don't have an accent, I'm constantly mistaken for Mexican or white, I don't have the long hair and braids and I rarely wear any sort of Native jewelry or clothing (heck, I've never owned a Navajo dress or moccasins throughout my entire life — except when I was a baby).

But I am Navajo because I can feel it. I feel different and I think differently. I came from the Mother Land and lived there my whole life and my heart is still in Crownpoint. My skin is dark, my hair is black, my eyes are brown and my cheekbones are high in the sky. 

What I can do as a Navajo is spread awareness and education about my tribe and the Native American community because we are always misunderstood. I make it my business to know about current issues and news about the Native community. I have this blog. I want to make sure that everyone who gets to know me knows I'm Navajo and that they learn something from me.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Typical Hollywood Indian

I was so excited about "The Lone Ranger," weren't you? There was cousin Johnny, Comanches, horses and train explosions. The hype was almost too much to take as the due date drew near. I entered contests for free tickets and T-shirts, I kept up with all the Johnny Depp news and news about the film. I posted trailers on my Facebook page and retweeted anything Lone Range on Twitter.

It wasn't only me. I think the whole Native American community was excited about this because Johnny found a whole new respect for our people when he came out and said he's Native and was adopted into the Comanche tribe. It felt like, with his huge name, he would play Tonto as a real Indian and do justice to the Native Hollywood character. It's high time we had a huge Indian star play a huge Indian role. Johnny was it. This was it. Johnny was going to save our image with this huge summer blockbuster. It was supposed to be Tonto's movie. That's what I thought, and I think that's what a lot of us thought. Tribal leaders, including the Navajo Nation president, attended showings and the red carpet and endorsed the film. People all over the reservation were excited when the film crews came through town. 

The first scene, an Indian in a cage on a circus display, ruined everything. I knew I was wrong about the film right then and there. I was disappointed and I think we were all disappointed. Certainly, all my Native friends were disappointed. Why the hell did they have to put him in a cage?

It was stereotypical, the way Hollywood Indians always are. The main character wasn't Indian, and they never are. The tribe of Comanches were only victims to show how rotten the villain was. They didn't offer anything to the story or to the resolution of the plot. They just got massacred, as they always do. There was no justice, just a few scenes that made you feel sorry for them.

Tonto was way too similar to Captain Jack Sparrow because he had a silliness about him and he was an odd outcast. He also wasn't even part of the tribe, or at least the tribe cast him out and didn't want his help or involvement. His dialogue was also very stereotypical in that broken English, painted Hollywood Indian way.

I mean, there was no empowerment or kudos to the Comanches. The hype revolved around Johnny Depp and his character, but his character was disappointing and the film was really about and for the Lone Ranger.

I really enjoyed the film when I wasn't so disappointed in Tonto. I thought it had good action and it was a great homage to Lone Ranger.

I know it's not Johnny's fault. I still love him. He abides by writers and a script, none of which were really interested in seriously focusing on Native Americans or doing any justice to the Indian character

It seems like no one else really liked the film either. It only made $85 million the whole month of July and it cost $215 million to make. When I watched it on the day it came out, there were only 30 people in the theater. I believe "Fast and Furious 6" beat "The Lone Ranger" on the first weekend.

We're still wishing for a big powerful movie. "Avatar" got really close, but it took place on a different planet and they were blue and the hero, of course, was a white American male. I'm thinking about epic, hero films about Po'pay and the Pueblo Revolt (huge battle scenes and tales of betrayal, loyalty and add in a love story), chief Manuelito and the resistance against the Long Walk (huge battle scenes with lots of horses, tales of betrayal, honor and loyalty, and add in a love story) and Elouise Cobell against the U.S. Federal Government (dramatic courts and lawyers movie where I can see Ben Affleck playing the defending lawyer who looses in the end. And add in a love story or sex scene because, I guess, people need that to catch their attention). Ah, that will be the day. I swear Hollywood is running out of ideas. I have to write the next great film. And I will only do it for us; the right way.

Monday, June 3, 2013


I come from one-horse town called Crownpoint, N.M. It's on the eastern edge of the Navajo Nation reservation. I love it. The population is about 3,000 and it has the best tasting water I have ever put to my lips. I recently went back for vacation and I wanted to share some photos with you.

This is Crownpoint from the south. I took a hike up to Teepee Rock and this is the view from there. We have clear, blue skies with some of the most jaw-dropping sunsets.

This is on the trail to Teepee Rock. It's about 3 miles and it's very beautiful and refreshing. You're never far away from the wilderness on the reservation. 

This is a shot towards the sunset. Those hills back there are where the "Howler" lives. The Howler is a creature, like Bigfoot, that has been making scary noises for everyone in Crownpoint to hear and fear.

Our rez dog, Zoey.

What did I tell you about those clear blue skies? This is the water tower by the high school.

This is the "stew stand" at night. It's an outdoor flea market - on the moon - where we get our fast food; mutton, stew and frybread.
 This is during fair time.

And the fair means rodeo!

These are some rough-looking rez dogs in Crownpoint.

Sixty miles away is one of the most popular tourist sites, Chaco Canyon. It's a 10,000-year-old collection of preserved Anasazi ruins.

Inside one of the rooms.

Clear blue skies.

 Outside my house. When fire meets the sky.
The End.

Native reservations are more beautiful than you think they are. They are full of landmarks, significant to the public or to just to us. They're clean and rural and have real character.

I hope you liked my little photo tour of Crownpoint, N.M., my home.