What Inspires These 7 Outdoor Athletes

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If there’s one idea that gets at the very heart of Outside’s mission, it’s the why. Behind every passion, every pursuit, and every adventure there’s a why. It’s what motivates us to act, and action is what leads to improving ourselves and the world.

That’s why we’re launching “Why I . . .,” a video series highlighting the diversity of people and passions that power our world. For this initial collection of stories, we asked seven people to share how their personal stories are connected to their Indigenous ancestry and culture. We hope they’ll inspire you to find your why as well.

Why I Protect

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As an original steward of the land and member of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, Johnathan Arakawa actively protects and advocates for the natural environment for future generations.

Why I Run

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Running is more than a sport. For Dustin Martin, running is a gateway to opportunity and mentorship. With his nonprofit, Wings of America, Dustin promotes running to Indigenous youth while simultaneously strengthening representation and fostering a connection to Native history.

Why I Bike

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April Morlock is a proud Athabaskan woman and Outside Interactive’s Director of Integrated Marketing. She grew up in Alaska, in a home where women played a central role in family and community life. “I was introduced to nature through their love, respect, and need for the land, fostering a connection with fresh air that will forever be rooted in me,” she says.

Why I Practice

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The healing power of yoga saved Jessica Mehta’s life and continues to everyday. As a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, she implements practices from her ancestors to create personal connection and purpose.

Why I Ski

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Skiing made Connor Ryan fall in love with the land and strengthened his connection with Lakota traditions. He says nothing illuminates that bond like a perfect ski day in the Colorado mountains.

Why I Climb

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Skye Kolealani Razon-Olds climbs as a cultural practice. As a Native Hawaiian, her ancestors live in the stone that she climbs, and she educates climbers on respectful access to these places through her work as co-founder of the nonprofit Kanaka Climbers.

Why I Run

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As a soil scientist and member of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, Lydia Jennings has deep connections with the land, and running helps her forge an even more meaningful relationship with the natural world.

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