Air Quality and Indigenous Communities: Meet Clarene Davis

This summer, EarthGen became a host site for the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals (ITEP) at Northern Arizona University’s Air Quality Internship Program. This program connects environmental organizations with dedicated college students for eight weeks during the summer to work on projects related to tribal air quality. EarthGen was fortunate to host university student and Diné (Navajo Nation) tribal member Clarene Davis, this summer.

Headshot of Clarene Davis

Yá’át’ééh, shí éí Clarene Davis yinishyé.  Náneesht’ézhí Táchii’nii nishłį́ dóó Bit’aanii Bashishchiin dóó Honágháahnii dashicheii dóó Hashk’ąą Hadzohi dashinalí.

Hello, my name is Clarene Davis. I’m of the Charcoal-Streaked clan, born for the Within’ His Cover clan.  My maternal grandfather’s clan is One-Walks-Around and my paternal grandfather is of the Yucca Fruit-Strung-Out-In-A-Line Clan. I am from Many Farms, Arizona and a member of the Diné (Navajo Nation). 

While she was here, Clarene learned about several tribes in Washington and studied their culture, creation stories, and traditional foods. Together with EarthGen staff, she met with members of three tribes: the Lummi, Muckleshoot, and Colville. She observed the Colville Tribes’ fishing practices as part of an educational partnership with the Upper Columbia United Tribes (UCUT).  

Clarene also helped EarthGen connect with Indigenous communities across Washington, who are often disproportionately impacted by poor air quality. She worked to enable communities to detect and measure air pollution for themselves as part of their participation in EarthGen programs.   

Clarene Davis and Laura Tyler pose for the camera

Clarene created a series of graphic novels that illustrate the relationship between air quality and Navajo culture for a planned middle school science unit. Called Sacred Breath, the new EarthGen program will examine the impacts of air pollution on Indigenous communities in Washington.

Clarene is now back home in Arizona for the new school year, where she reports looking forward to graduation and learning more about tribal law. In the future, she wants to continue working towards environmental justice through government and nonprofit collaborations between her own Navajo Nation and other tribes.

A image from Clarene's graphic novel that connects air quality to Navajo culture
A image from Clarene's graphic novel that connects air quality to Navajo culture