Deaf Inspiring: Native American Heritage Month


Deaf Inspiring


This month we’re spotlighting an amazing Native American deaf business owner named Aletha Ballew, native name is Sul’ laak I’e. She operates Native Knits on the Lummi Reservation and makes beautiful knitted wool clothing.

She is from the Lummi Nation in Washington. Her family is Coast Salish. She learned to knit from her grandmother and has been spinning wool since she was 10 years old.

When she was growing up, she spent a lot of time with her great Grandma Celestine and her Grandma Sadie who always had something to teach her. Aletha told us that to this day she is still spinning wool and knitting, and has been sharing the tradition by teaching her 6-year old granddaughter.

Aletha was kind enough to answer a few of our questions. Keep reading see what she shared with us!

CSD Neighborhood: What is the most important issue in the deaf community that needs to be solved in the next 10 years?
Aletha Ballew: Education and access to jobs. We need to ensure that deaf kids have good educational backgrounds by improving deaf mainstream school’s deaf education programs, so the kids can have a better future. Employers out there need to open up access to those deaf people who want to work by being inclusive, not turning them down just because they are deaf and communicate differently.


CSD Neighborhood: What do you wish people knew about the deaf community?
Aletha Ballew: The deaf community is cool, happy, healthy and full of thriving people you wish you knew.

CSD Neighborhood: What makes a good leader?
Aletha Ballew: In the community, people watch how leaders help other people. I think a good leader works with people to achieve things, instead of telling them what to do.



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