Flagstaff woman nears end of 2,000 mile roller skate for tribal environmental justice
A Flagstaff woman nears the end of a 2,000 mile trip across the countryâ¦ on roller skates. But it’s not just for fun – Daisy Purdy is raising funds to support the work of Navajo Ph.D. Tommy Rock and his all-Indigenous research team studying the devastating environmental and health effects of landmines. uranium abandoned on tribal lands. Purdy spoke to KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius about the many elements that propel her during her two-month journey from the Navajo Nation to the Eastern Strip of Cherokee in North Carolina. More information on rollerrock.org.
Ryan Heinsius: What exactly inspired you to embark on this adventure?
Daisy Purdy: I ââwas taking refuge in North Carolina and trying to organize or help with some mask drives and self-help efforts, etc. in the southwestern areas particularly affected by the pandemic, more specifically the areas of Indian Country and Navajo Nation and various pueblo communities. And as I was sitting there, I felt like I wasn’t doing enough. So I put on my roller skates for the first time in years and went out roller skating where I could take a lane on the road, you know, and be away from people, and get some fresh air, exercise, clear my mind, and I just thought, what if I just keep going to the Navajo Nation and try to make a fundraising effort? I was really inspired by the work that Dr Rock was doing and I was trying to think innovatively about ways to support him in a time when resources were scarce, ways to educate people across the nation – those who did not. were not. t aware – more aware of issues that disproportionately impact Black, Indigenous and communities of color.
RH: What is the attraction of rollerblading for you?
DP: Rollerblading has been a point of entry for many communities of color. You know, historically, you could visit a city while traveling and if there was an ice rink that was usually a space you could be in. Jam skating and dance skating are different things that communities of color have long engaged in as a social outlet, as a physical outlet. And so, there is a certain solidarity associated with it. It is a space that has been reclaimed a lot recently by communities of color, and so it is symbolic for these reasons. There is also the element of roller skating that it is fun!
RH: Tell me about the feedback you get or the level of support you might receive from the people you have met.
DP: Yes, the level of support is really mixed. People are either really receptive, really open, really warm, or downright hostile and aggressive. Some people will say things to you like, âWhy are you wasting your time? One person said, “If the aboriginal people just got a job, there wouldn’t be a problem.” There is certainly hatred and animosity there. But with all the hate, animosity, ignorance and obstacles that I have faced in this way, there is so much more love, encouragement, inspiration and hope. I had people on the side of the road asking me what I was doing and I tell them and they were digging deep in their pockets and handing me 79 cents, that’s what they have to give at that time in really rural, really poor parts of the country. People can see someone on roller skates and think it’s cool no matter where they are on the political spectrum, no matter what their beliefs are.
RH: There is obviously an emotional, mental challenge here but it is also a physical challenge for you. What was the hardest part of roller skating 2,000 miles across the country?
DP: What I hadn’t thought of that was going to become my biggest challenge was my feet. Roller skates, I don’t know if you’re familiar with that, but they’re not made for ultra marathons. The first, I would say two to three weeks, my feet were too big to fit in my roller skates. I actually had to buy a pair of Albuquerque Roller Derby League roller skates that were one size too big for me because my feet were swelling and numb in my roller skates which were right for me. It is still a daily struggle. Here I’m 1,800, 1,900 miles and still padding and patting my feet everyday, wearing multiple pairs of socks, compression socks to reduce swelling. But if it wasn’t a challenge, I wouldn’t and people wouldn’t care, right?