Multi-Racial Wife, Mother, Activist, Entrepreneur Focuses Life Work On A Mission
In The Beginning
Once upon a time, there was a little girl whose hair was long and dark brown, and eyes were big and dark like the depths of the night sky. This little girl wanted her hair to be golden like the sun and eyes as blue as the depths of the ocean. She wanted to look like Barbie, or Aurora from Sleeping Beauty, or Madonna, or her older sister. She didn’t like being called Pocahontas or Squatting Bull in school, so she stopped sharing that she was Native American, and leaned into her Italian heritage, revering Columbus like the others, and submitting to standing and saying the pledge of allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. This little girl was trying to protect herself the best she knew how, and that was to please others at her own expense.
Angelina Hilton, a member of the Sac and Fox Nation of Missouri in Kansas and Nebraska was born in Kansas City, Missouri to a full Sicilian Father and a bi-racial Mother. Angelina is on the roll of the Sac and Fox, however she is also the sixth generation granddaughter of Rant-Che-Wai-Me or Flying Pigeon and Iowa Chief Mahaskah, or White Cloud.
About an hour and a half drive northwest of Kansas City is a small reservation located in Reserve, Kansas that is the headquarters of this Sac and Fox band. There are roughly 400 tribal members left dispersed throughout the world. This land is also home to Tribes like the Iowa of Kansas and Nebraska and the Kansas Kickapoo Tribe.
Take The Picture
At the age of four, her mother married a man of German descent, and her immediate family relocated to a small, predominately white suburb in upstate NY. Interestingly enough, the land she moved to is rich in Native culture and history as it is the land of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. The Confederacy is made up of the Seneca, Onondaga, Cayuga, Oneida, Mohawk, and Tuscarora.
Moving to NY did not stop Angelina’s family from visiting their homeland. The road trips back and forth twice a year gave Angelina a unique opportunity to see and immerse into parts of Native America. One of her favorite activities to do during visits was break out Gramsy’s photo albums as they shared the history of their family, dated, notated and in chronological order. She remembers her Grandma always taking photos, and was encouraged by her Grandma to do the same. Angelina would share growing up and to this day:
“I want to go down every road I’ve never been down, and take photos of what I see and learn, and write about.”
In 2004, Angelina would travel from upstate NY to sunny San Diego to attend the Art Institute where she would excel and be recognized by the American Advertising Federation as a “Most Promising Minority”. She earned a degree in Advertising and went on to work in publishing, selling advertising at Gannett in Rochester, NY. From there she resigned from her job after two years, sold everything she owned, and moved to the Philippines where she studied and became self-taught in mobile marketing.
Several years go by, and she accepted a position working with a search engine marketing company where they white-label their products and serve as the fulfillment team for other marketing companies. These companies were Angelina’s clients and she would teach them how to fulfill and sell SEM services. In 2017, Angelina and her husband co-founded a pop up comic and collectible shop which then grew into a brick and mortar pop culture café in 2018 called POP ROC.
In 2019, her Grandma passed, and in 2020, so did her older Brother. It wasn’t until Thanksgiving in 2021 that she would really feel the impact of that loss. This experience changed the trajectory of her life.
“Some of the most important days in our lives include the day we are born, and the day we find out why.”
Angelina realized her family would not be going back to the midwest like they used to. Then she realized that her Mother moved into the elder generation role, leaving Angelina and her siblings the last in their bloodline to carry on any kind of story or tradition from their Native culture. She realized that if she didn’t continue the work that Gramsy tried to explain throughout the years was so important, eventually because of blood quantum, her tribe could become extinct.
This left Angelina feeling devastated. Her son and daughter are the seventh generation of Chief White Cloud and wife Rantchewaime, yet they are not federally or tribally recognized as Indigenous. Have we succeeded in keeping our people alive? Or have the Europeans succeeded in “saving the man, and killing the Indian”? Then Angelina got angry. And that anger turned into passion, and that passion into purpose. So in January of 2023, Angelina shifted her focus from Pop Culture to Native Culture.
“Those who tried to bury us, didn’t know we were seeds.”
That seed for Angelina is “Native Made” and the product that this seed births is increasing Indigenous visibility. It’s taken almost a year to get the business off the ground. Much like the lifecycle of a seed, there is a time to plant, a time to sow, a time to nurture, and a time to grow, a time to harvest, and a time to rest.
Some of the fruit of the seed is the ability to help Native people enter the marketplace in addition to supporting and advocating for Native and Land Rights. She is focused on building bridges between cultures as she serves as that bridge herself between her Mother and past generations, to her children and future generations.
Operating With Purpose
Native Americans exist today and are very active in their communities and the world. At one point, there were up to 112 million Indigenous people across Turtle Island. In 2020, the census shared there were roughly 9.7 million. Where did the other 102 million Indigenous people go? Native people are still here, they are just not being seen, and the term for this is called “invisibility”. Angelina has been working on projects to continuously work on fulfilling the mission of increasing Indigenous visibility.
“Recognizing Native people exist and the initiatives that are important to them, and the future of humanity, should be everyday, 365 days a year.”
In 2022, Angelina joined the Indigenous Peoples’ Day Committee in Rochester, NY who earlier that year got a unanimous vote from the City Hall to celebrate the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. A proclamation was then developed for another organization that was created to work in partnership with the IPD, called Cugini Di Roc to honor and celebrate the first Sunday in October as Italian Heritage Day. Now that it’s codified law for the city of Rochester, the committee works at planning the events around that day, in addition to continued advocacy, education and partnership with others.
“Angelina stepped in a month before our events and helped tremendously to make them successful through her technical knowledge and graciousness to take on so much at the last minute. Nyaweh.” – Indigenous Peoples’ Day Committee Rochester, NY
To help change the way people see Native America and the people, Angelina has collaborated with other folks to produce a 2024 wall calendar titled “On Native Land’. The purpose of the calendar is to create awareness and education of Indigenous culture, initiatives and issues. It consists of scenic images reflective of this taken by Angelina from various travels throughout the continent. And with a purchase of this calendar, Native Made and all the supporters are investing in Native rights, whereas $6 from every presale goes to the Native American Rights Fund (NARF).
She also is curating a second Native Made Market. This is a gathering that brings Native creatives, educators, entrepreneurs, advocates and allies together in an effort to immerse people into Native culture in an engaging, meaningful and impactful way. Last year there were 12 vendors, seven presenters, a ton of ally participation, and at least 500 attendees throughout the day’s events. This year the market is at Innovation Square, located at 100 South Clinton Avenue in Rochester, NY from 11am to 5pm. Save the date!
“Bringing people together around these important ideas will help advance our shared efforts on behalf of land and people. I’m grateful for your work; we are all called to acts of reciprocity with the living world and I’m glad we’re in this together.” – Robin Wall Kimmerer
And third, she has been accepting new clients for marketing services like brand identity development, website development, and search engine marketing. The economic development of Native people and organizations plays a critical role in sovereignty. American Indian sovereignty recognizes that Tribes possess the right to govern themselves, make decisions about their internal affairs, and maintain their cultural, social, and economic well-being. This includes the power to enact laws, provide for the welfare of its citizens, establish courts, manage resources and land, and regulate commerce. U.S. law is supposed to recognize that this sovereignty is inherent, that it pre-dates the U.S. government and European colonization, and it is not derived from an outside source.
How You Can Support
Angelina’s vision for Native Made by 2033 is to:
- Make a positive, generational impact
- Actively take part in accomplishing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals throughout North and South America
- Have Indigenous representation from each Tribe throughout North America
- Plant 1M trees by partnering with One Tree Planted
- Establish a National Philanthropy Fund for Indigenous Entrepreneurs
- Become recognized as an activist brand for Indigenous people
How you can support the Native Made mission and vision is by sharing this information with as many people as you can. You can also support by making a calendar purchase for yourself and someone else, participating in the market as a sponsor whether as an ally or a donor, and positive encouragement. This work is difficult, it’s time consuming, requires sacrifice, and it is life work. Sharing positivity and encouragement keeps the tank full and the vessel moving. Thank you for your support.
About: Native Made is an Indigenous woman-owned business with a mission to increase Indigenous visibility. Native Made provides marketing services such as business consulting, public relations, graphic design, website development, search engine optimization, event planning and implementation, as well as sharing educational resources, and outreach initiatives. By working with Native entrepreneurs, Indigenous peoples and communities, and multi-cultural organizations, Native Made is changing the way people see Indigenous People of North and South America.
*Native Made is not affiliated with the Sac and Fox Nation of Missouri in Kansas and Nebraska and is currently headquartered in Penfield, NY*