AXS Introduces Dynamic New Faculty: Neal Powless and Michelle Schenandoah-Powless

BREAKING: Online success club ALL AXS introduced two new faculty members this month, Neal Powless and Michelle Schenandoah-Powless, a powerhouse husband and wife Native American team. AXS writer, Michael Strickland, recently sat down with Neal and Michelle to get a feel of his pulse and to see what they offer our elite club.

Neal Powless & Michelle Schenandoah-Powless
1) How was your Boise experience? Please elaborate. What did you think of the environment here at our corporate headquarters? How were the people? Did you have any enlightening feelings or thoughts as a result of your visit?
Boise was amazing. We arrived in Boise not knowing what to expect other then we were about to meet with Troy McClain. We had no idea what was about to transpire and how amazing of an experience it would turn out to be.

We met with the AXS group and were treated with open arms and welcoming smiles with amazing hearts and souls with light that filled each room we entered into. It was such a warm and inviting experience with no agenda. There were many new people walking into the office and as we learned more about what each person was there for, it was clear that this group is a special place. This is accentuated with how anyone who enters is greeted at the door. Salle is an amazing soul with some amazing stories and life experiences and she truly sets the stage for the office. 
We had the pleasure of spending time with Brett Labit, Patrick Jager and Troy. It wasn't until the end of the trip that we started to realize the synergy of why we where both there in Boise. We learned what each of these people where doing to bring AXS into the future and we realized the connection to our Haudenosaunee teachings, political structure and collaborative system of building community. We instantly decided it was time to "get on the train" and become part of this amazing movement. It has been a fantastic experience full of growth, excitement and FUN
Neal Powless
2) Tell us more about your vision for yourself, your career and for your role as an AXS leader in the immediate future and long term.
What a fun question. I grew up the son (and grandson) of Chiefs among the Onondaga, a member Nation of the Haudenosaunee that is made up of 6 different Nations. My father had been put up as a Chief just before I was born and so my world was heavily influenced by the traditions, culture and ceremonies of my people that have been passed down for thousands of years. We are a people of spirit, passion and peace. This peace has been something that our people have developed over those many years. I am a product of that process.
This history affects my personal vision, as the message of peace that is part of my ancestral heritage, is something I will share with the world. A famous Onondaga Leader by the name of Oren Lyons recently presented a question in a documentary titled The Good Mind, “How do you instruct, 7 billion people as to their relationship to the Earth?” The answer is to share, to speak and to provide a space for all people to openly accept one another and communicate with love and respect for one another. This is my vision and my goal.
As I work on my PhD, and develop my role as an AXS leader, I see a space of people with passion, love and respect for life in their hearts. In our teachings we believe that everything on Mother Earth has a spirit, and AXS teaches us that everything in the Universe has an energy. My role as a AXS leader is to expose these correlations so that the Origins of GIN can intersect with the Origins of Indigenous thought. This connection to source, to creation energy is in everyone.
As for long-term goals, I have spent a good amount of my recent life as a counselor working with people to help them find their own life story, their dreams and to find ways to keep focused on that. To do this it is always good to know who your heroes are. Recently I have found myself interested in Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Ronaldinho. I have yet to research any of these people deeper, but from what I perceive their greatest traits are, I feel I can find the relationships between us all. What this means for my future I am unclear, but I know that once I get to a place that I can see, I will surely find more to look for.
Recently, I have dedicated myself to following my heart.  For most of my career, I worked in law and business strategy consulting.  I’m a Juris Doctor and Master of Laws in Taxation.  I worked as a Senior Strategist with Native governments throughout the US in the areas of economic development and governance, and with national and international non-profits and start-ups.  I’ve also served on several non-profit boards.
 Michelle Schenandoah-Powless
About a year and a half-ago, I had a life-changing event that brought my whole life to a new level of understanding and being, as I worked through the gift of a serious concussion that took me completely out of my line of work and into the present moment of every moment.  During this time of transition, I looked deep within my core and my passions in order to find a new way of living that felt in synch with my heart.  I continually sought and asked Creation to show me my purpose.  With time, the answer came from within, that my singular purpose on Mother Earth is to simply, “Be Love.”  This answer has set me free as I’ve come to learn that I don’t need to “do” any singular thing, I just have to be.   Now I realize that whatever is in front of me is exactly what I am to do and the choices of what I decide to do in every moment defines my happiness.
Since I put away my search for an answer of my purpose, doors have been flying open and life has been gifting me with amazing opportunities.  People and events have come into my life that have brought enormous waves of happiness, connection and love.  I have dedicated myself to a completely new way of conscious parenting and living, that includes an introspective journey into the cross sections of my culture and our original teachings, and how I may make a greater impact in the world.  Alongside my husband, we were asked to become faculty members of AXS.  Following a feeling of deep fulfillment, I also signed up to become a certified Dharma Coach to self-empower seekers on their path to realizing their dreams.  My husband and I opened Indigenous Concepts Consulting and have already worked on projects in film, business development, higher education, public speaking and writing.  I have come to serve in a greater capacity to a group of national coalitions with the Seven Dancers Coalition in New York that works to raise awareness and prevention of domestic violence and sexual assault against women and children in Native American communities through healing.
Through my role as a AXS leader, I envision bringing the voice and principles of Native American teachings to AXS , along with sharing my unique experiences in life as a Native woman, mother and as a human being.  Neal and I have found a deep resonance in our people’s teachings and AXS principles.  As Native people, we are told that we are stewards of our Mother the Earth, and through the processes of AXS, we hope to engender a new understanding and way of being for humankind here on Earth.  We not only need to be eco-conscious, we need to become eco-loving.  In order to create this, it is critical to make space within every being for the special and unique connection of women and children to the energy of Creation.  It is then that humankind will be kind.  Now and in the long-term, it is my desire to share the principles of the Haudenosaunee to engender this perspective.
3) Your life story has many strong cultural and spiritual references in it. What would you like to share from your background that all AXS members may benefit from?
Well, I touched on it briefly in the previous question but I feel it comes through in the answer to every question. As a young child my parents told me many things, but there is one that stuck in my head, “You don’t know where you are going if you don’t know where you came from.” I guess it was because they had told me so many times over and over, to understand my culture, my heritage as a reference for who I am and what I represent.
It is with this knowledge that I am still developing, that I bring to the AXS membership. Funny thing is, as I move on this journey, I find myself more committed to learning more details, thinking critically about my ancestry and teachings to truly have a better understanding of them. Being someone who people already look to when they have questions about this stuff, I find it intriguing that it has pushed me in many ways to be a better, increasingly well-rounded person in so many new ways. What a gift life is, to give each of us an opportunity to find a way to get better each day. What a thing to be thankful for.
In our culture we give thanks for each of the “gifts” we receive each day. It would be multiple articles to explain our perception of what the word “gift” means to us, but I will sum it up in a brief statement. A gift is the creation energy that the Creator has given to all of us and it is our responsibility to engage in life in a way that allows us to become aware of those gifts. Like any gift, it is also our responsibility to “share” this gift with the world so that any generation yet to be born has an opportunity to enjoy life and all of lifes’ joys in a way that resembles our own experiences on Mother Earth.
We then get to answer why we decide to engage in each experience. My choice is to bring a message of peace, harmony and equity. It is a process by which I feel great passion and excitement for. It is also something that I get to share with my wife, my children, my family and every community I engage in.
There are three moments in my life that have served as guideposts for all that I do, for which I’d like to share with you.
Our former Tadadaho, who is the leader of all of the Haudenosaunee people, Leon Shenandoah, was once asked, “If you could wish away all the (non-Native) people and make this land Native land once again, would you do it?”  He replied, “No, I would not because Creator sent everyone here for a reason. I don’t know what that reason is, but it’s up to all of us to figure that out.”
I believe that all things happen for a reason.  His answer gave me the key to explore all facets of life and understand that the differences between humankind may be trivial, as we are all here on what we call Turtle Island and as time passes, it seems that we become more and more of a diversified culture coming together as One.  As my life unfolds and I expand in my own consciousness, Tadadaho’s words lead me to further explore answers to that reason.  I find it to be big wins when US laws reflect equality, like the US Supreme court legalizing same sex marriage across the county, and notable celebrities pick up campaigns for causes of the Earth, as these were always lifeways of Native peoples.  I feel that through the people of the world coming together, particularly in the Americas, is for humanity to come to the greater understandings that Native peoples have always held.
When I was sitting in a Wolf Clan meeting as a child, I had a suggestion for our community members who could not come to a decision.  When I made the suggestion, a very unhappy elderly woman snapped at me, as she just saw me as a child and that I had no place to speak.  My uncle who sat in the position as a Chief, very kindly said to all of the people in the meeting, “It is said among our people, that when we don’t know what to do, to look to the children, for they truly hold the answers.”
On my spiritual journey and through parenting, I’ve come to learn the closeness that children hold to Creation. It is their innocence, sense of fairness and genuine loving nature that provides us true insight into the Divine energy of the Universe.
Finally, the words of my Grandmother, who was a Wolf Clan Mother for the Oneida people, led her life creating a space for the Oneidas to live in their original homelands and to carry on their traditions.  As a leader, she was often condemned or criticized as she forged ahead in her heart’s life work to make things right for the Oneidas.  She would let her people know, “Always do your best.”  She applied this thought to all that she did and shared it openly for others to follow. Her words continually resonate in my daily life no matter what that situation.  I have found the strength in these words to face fear, overcome challenges and to find my way through scenarios that seem to have no resolution. Whenever I am faced with a moment of uncertainty, I think of my Grandmother’s words and move forward with confidence. I’ve discovered it humanity’s only true way of consciously evolving.

AXS is truly fortunate to benefit from the amazing work of Neal Powless and Michelle Schenandoah-Powless