(Starlight Projects Foundation Founder)
Krys has lived a life rich with experiences encompassing the myriad colors of the spectrum of this crazy thing we call life. Born in the Windy City (Chicago IL), now settled on her true ancestral homeland in Northern Arizona, on the Hopi Native American Reservation (Hopi Land), having lived and studied in Mexico, the United States and Spain, plus marrying at the tender age of 15, all was not part of the original plan. Still, somehow she managed to be a good mother, student, scholar, professional, businesswoman, speaker, leader, volunteer, counselor, humanitarian, and so much more.
Author, writer, speaker, artist, musician, counselor, and self-empowerment expert, fuses personal experiences with those of many whom have touched her life and returns to the public the lessons learned from these. It is these philosophies that have been adapted, and then are presented in a way that they may apply to anyone.
Life needed to slow down, and Krystaline took up her long lost hobby of writing, for which she had won so many awards growing up. Ghostwriting a syndicated column, publishing her articles in various publications and freelancing, she later was welcomed into the world of the media and landed a position at the Extra Bilingual Newspaper, in Chicago. And so it seemed a comeback was in the making.
Holding multiple degrees in Business Administration, Marketing & Promotion, Philosophy, Rhetoric & Writing, Social Work, in addition to other certifications like CDVC (Certified Domestic Violence Counselor), Krys continues to stay involved in business, having owned or been on the board of more than 10 companies, cultivates community relationships wherever she goes, and offers programs to the public through various partnerships with non-profit organizations & local businesses. She is the founder of Starlight Projects Foundation, an IRS certified 501(c)3 Charity, and currently focusing most efforts on Hopi Lands (Hopi Native American Reservation as well as ancestral surrounding lands).
Krys is also still an active Victim Advocate, part-time Faculty teaching Creative Writing for GED, as well as being a graduate student working on a Masters in Social Work and a Doctorate in Philosophy.
Story of a Lost Hopi
Starlight Projects interviewed our founder about her Hopi heritage, and this is her story...
Interviewer: How did you find out you were Hopi after living your whole life thinking you were just Hispanic?
Krys: "My Maternal Great Grandfather, Hector Sakwanomtewa (of Oraibi) was taken by the Spaniards when they came to Hopi and took my Great Grandfather, and many others, to Spain for knowledge of natural medicines, and other things like star mapping. He was later put on a boat to the Nueva España (New Spain/Now Mexico) and there he fell in love and married a woman who was a Mestiza (Mix of Indigenous Tribe and Spaniard). In order to get married in this highly Catholic-run country by the Spaniards, one needed to be baptized first, and given a “Christian” name, to purge the “savage” customs from the person (believing that being indigenous was bad) by removing their identity… My Great Grandfather complied, as he had to live in this world, highly racist against indigenous peoples, and his hope was to one day have our family return to our ancestral homeland here on Hopi.
My Great Grandfather changed his last name to ‘Garcia’, a popular last name given to indigenous people at that time, but he kept the ‘S’ of his native name “Sakwanomtewa”, so his name was changed to Hector S. Garcia, that was his way of keeping his identity. And he married and had children, of whom only my mother and I have inherited the character Spanish traits of white skin and green eyes. Everyone else is of dark skin. Why the Creator decided this, is beyond our understanding, but it doesn’t change my blood line or my heritage.I was a lost Hopi, and now I am Home."
Interviewer: So you always knew you were Hopi?
Krys: "Actually, No. When my maternal grandmother died, she left a box for my mother and in there were documents my great grandfather had left behind, like a journal, census papers with his enrollment number, and a letter to whoever opened the time capsule. lol (laughs).. That is when my search began and it led me here. I honor my great grandfather's memory by coming home to Hopi."
Interviewer: You founded Starlight Projects in Chicago, in 2004, and have operations and programs in Illinois, Florida, Texas, Mexico, and Arizona. So why move your main operation to Hopi Land now?
Krys: "That's easy. Because I am home. For many years I used to think Chicago was my hometown because I was born there. Somehow as human beings in our psyche, we have the need to justify and fill in gaps. So for me, thinking of a non-breakable attachment with Chicago, only because it was my place of birth, was simply silly. I certainly do still have an attachment and somehow an un-breakable bond with Chicago, but it is of my choosing because I love the city, how beautiful it is, how culturally rich it is, with people from all over the world. I love the opportunities available, and the willingness of others to help you through whatever you need to work out in your life. Chicago is a city of trade, and so you can find exotic people, things, plants, animals, etc... It is quite an experience and I feel honored and thankful that I was able to grow up in an environment like that. So Chicago is in my heart always. But my homeland is Hopi. Where the ancestors call out to the connection you make with the land. I am at peace, and somehow more connected, haha (laughs), even though I am in the middle of nowhere. But its rich in history, power, and wisdom.
Our operations have shifted to Hopi lands for one simple reason. The lands call out for our help. Our people (the Hopi Senom) are being decimated and the culture is quickly fading away. Do you understand the ramifications of what it means if the Hopi people disappear? and the three Hopi mesas become a national park? We will be talked about in books as a people that went extinct in the modern era when opportunities are everywhere and it can be prevented... So how in my right mind, can I walk away from a project as huge as that?! With a vested personal interest because I myself am part Hopi. I decided, along with our board of directors, that it would be in the best interest of the WORLD, if we focused on a revival of culture and community on Hopi Lands, that is to say, most of the lands surrounding our 3 mesas, as well as those of the migration pattern. I am talking about the ancestral lands, not those marked with a political boundary.
If we can accomplish this great feat of destiny, then we CAN do ANYTHING! And we can model these projects across the world to echo our efforts around the globe. We can all benefit from learning from each other, and right now the Original, Primal, Ancestral teachings are calling out to us everywhere... To those that HEAR IT. JOIN US!
Krys is the author of Return to Life! An Empowerment of the Spirit, and has been conducting workshops since 2002 on Women's Empowerment, Creative Writing, Victim Advocacy, Fibromyalgia Awareness, and other causes. A former member of the press, freelance writer, artist, musician, and graphic designer.