The heart of an indigenous woman is strong, able to persevere the statistical circumstances common to Native women. Such is the heart of Dr. Blythe George. Blythe’s family knew poverty and other challenges. They grew up off the reservation, which carries its own trials. These experiences did not bring despair to Blythe, they brought perseverance and motivation. “My family legacy is a precursor to my work and the experience therein is the internal compass that guides my research.”
Connected to Blythe’s strong heart is her brilliant mind. Drawing on her community’s needs, Blythe built her scholarship to engage in research relevant to those needs. She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology and Social Policy from Harvard University. Her research has provided essential data for many of the programs of the Yurok Tribal Court and Justice Center. This is critical research for every Native nation, and for the Yurok it documents both needs and results to funding agencies and organizations. Blythe’s work has helped to leverage funds to build culturally relevant programs and services based on Yurok values.
Parallel to Blythe’s academic work is her recovery of the ancestral knowledge of her people. As a child, Blythe lost her family’s culture bearer, her grandmother Clarann. This loss and recovery set her on a lifelong path of learning about her people. Studying Yurok history reminded her that she is descended from remarkable people, healers, and a great-great grandmother who had acquired the sacred wealth to have her own Great House. In Blythe’s words, this awakened her “blood memory.”
Blythe returned to her Yurok home, bringing traditional knowledge to the context of her research and advocacy. She exemplifies the Yurok tradition of being a member of a village culture by taking her place in communal responsibility. Blythe’s work has much to contribute beyond her nation.
Her scholar-activism is creating a model for other Native nations seeking paths to wellness and restorative justice on our terms.