Each semester, WEA works with a cohort of excited and dedicated interns who join us to support our staff and the women we partner with in deeply impactful ways. They help us tell the story of our work, uplift the women leaders we work with around the world, engage with our supporters, bring their perspectives and energy to our office and operations, and so much more. We’re always so honored to have their touch strengthening the core of WEA’s work, and to be able to invest in their leadership as they continue to create change in the world.
This semester, one of the incredible young women we get to work with is Selena Neptune-Bear, a junior at Dartmouth College from the Penobscot Indian Reservation. Selena brings so much skill, integrity and dedication to her work and the things she’s passionate about (and she also has great taste in music). It’s such a privilege to have her on the team!
Name: Selena Neptune-Bear
Hometown: Indian Island, Maine
If you had a superpower, it would be (and why):
If I had a superpower, I would want the ability to speak every language. I love traveling and learning about other cultures, along with sharing my own. I think I would be able to meet so many interesting people and learn so much.
Why did you want to intern with WEA?
I am a Native American and Women and Gender Studies major, hoping to pursue an independent research study on the epidemic of violence against Indigenous women. And so, I first heard about the Women’s Earth Alliance through their Violence on the Land, Violence on our Bodies report and toolkit. I was doing a research paper for my Native American law and literature class and used the report, in large, to shape my argument. The connections drawn in this project were ingenious and I just fell in love with it.
Tell us about a woman who inspires you.
My biggest inspiration, right now, has to be congresswoman Sharice Davids. Davids, a Ho-Chunk tribal member became one of the first native American women elected to congress with New Mexico’s Deb Haaland, during this past election. She is also the first LGBT person to represent Kansas. However, it is her confident and unapologetic attitude that inspires me. Davids is not only intelligent but versatile. She is an activist, lawyer, former women’s MMA fighter, and stands up for human equality. Her drive to make it to congress, and be among the first to provide representation for native women, is something that gives me hope.
Why women and why the environment?
As a Penobscot woman, the environment is very much tied to my identity, shaping ceremonies, my tribe’s creation story, and providing my people with sustenance. And so, my culture places great importance on the environment and our role as caregivers and protectors. Additionally, I come from a matrilineal society, and so, the value and power of women has been instilled in me from a young age. To find an environmental organization that places the power of leadership in the hands of women was like coming home.
What does your life outside WEA look like?
As a full-time student, my life outside of WEA can be fairly chaotic. At Dartmouth, I am involved in our Native American Program, a member of our Movement Against Violence organization, along with Inclusivity and Diversity Chair of my sorority, Alpha Phi. I work with America Reads, traveling to nearby third grade classrooms to read and spend time with them. In my spare time, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, being outdoors, or beading earrings.
What’s your favorite thing to do in the Bay Area?
I am new to the area. But I love visiting the Marina, and being by the ocean, along with reading in the Botanical Gardens near Golden Gate Park. I have been exploring and trying to take in as much as I can. However, I am from Maine, where the temperature is in the negatives this time of the year. And so, I think my favorite thing is not having to spend an hour brushing snow off my car and hoping I don’t freeze in the process.
What are you currently reading / watching / listening to?
I am currently reading The Hate You Give, a book written by Angie Thomas. It is about a sixteen-year-old girl and her life “between two worlds.” It addresses issues of racism and police violence with intelligence, and is so captivating. I love a wide range of music. I currently made a playlist for a skiing trip that I haven’t stopped listening to, that includes artists, like Carlos Santana, Redbone, Shaggy, J. Cole, Slightly Stoopid, and The Allman Brothers Band.