Sammy Gensaw, III, is a Yurok Native, the Director of the Ancestral Guard, Artist, Yurok Language Speaker, Singer, Writer, Cultural/Political/Environmental Activist, Regalia Maker, Mediator, Youth Leader & Fisherman. Sammy comes from the villages of Oregon up the Klamath River and from Requa at the mouth of the Klamath River. Sammy grew up on the river and yet resides at Terwer Riffle in the Glen at Klamath, CA on the Yurok reservation. His work and focus are strongly rooted in the strengths and activities of his skills as a Yurok practitioner and cultural bearer.
Sammy has strong skills in keeping his ancestral ties alive through multiple outlets that endorses and respects his traditional and cultural values of community, world renewal and self. Sammy is an excellent public speaker and community organizer for disarming the colonized mindset and agenda while reclaiming, promoting and advancing the balance and protection of Mother Earth and our relationship & responsibilities to her and humanity. Sammy’s passion and commitments of his lineage and knowledge has proven healthy. Continuing and sharing the Indigenous worldview is making impacts through a constant commitment of exposure, voice and hand. Sammy truly walks his talk and stands up for our spirituality, our rivers, our lands, our language, our arts and features as a local Indigenous community stakeholder.
Sammy is the founder and director of the Ancestral Guard. It is a community organizing network developed to encourage an Indigenous mindset and engage the people who live in our ancestral territories to respect, become a part of and restore a natural balance between people, and the environment we all share. The Ancestral Guard comes from humble beginnings. Just before the first Salmon season of early 2012 there was a request to share and teach others about the “old school rules” of being on the river and how to “think right when we fish”. This spurred the work of ‘The Smokehouse Boys’ which now has come to be known as the ‘Ancestral Guard’ in response to the community’s need of youth activities driven by cultural values and ancestral knowledge. Ancestral Guard is fortunate enough to partner up with Nature Rights Council in meeting the needs of the non-profit status in the local grassroots efforts and community work. Ancestral Guard is made up of dedicated young men and women who have like-hearts of self-sustaining approaches to revitalizing, utilizing and implementing stewardships, ancestral values and mentoring other youth in this endeavor of promoting a strong and healthy self-identity. Social justice, Indigenous activism and restoration of organic healing chemistry within ourselves and communities are amongst the emphasized approaches to renewing and healing our communities. With Sammy’s vision, along with the associates of the Ancestral Guard, many activities that nurture self-identity, ancestral connections and the overall well-being of Indigenous grounding is proving very effective and stabilizing for this healing with the intend to grow stronger for the next seven generations. “I’m going to COP25 so I can further support my local communities and strengthen international support of indigenous based solutions.”