Simona has always advocated for herself and others. As a child and teenager in the foster care system, Simona learned early to stand up for what she needed, as well as to defend others also trapped by injustice systems. She is a queer two-spirit Afro-Indigenous femme, enrolled as a member of the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux tribes.
Born in Portland, Simona lost her mother at the age of 3. Foster care separated Simona from her brother. They moved her from Oregon to California to the Fort Peck reservation in Montana to California, putting Simona into 25 different placements before she aged out of the system when she turned 18. At that point, Simona had no resources beyond the ability to survive forced on her by numerous abusive experiences in care and a willingness to speak up for herself. From there, Simona built her career as an equity and inclusion professional. She returned to Portland, reconnected with her brother, and grew her family. Prior to the pandemic, Simona worked at Portland Community College and other Portland-area organizations.
While the Native Nations Coordinator at PCC, Simona developed the first PCC ceremony to honor Native graduates using traditional elements. Simona also served on the board of MMIW USA. Her activist work around abortion access led her to speak at the Portland Women’s March in October 2021. Simona worked hard to bring awareness to systemic injustices, accumulating a resume with a long list of accolades — but no matter what credential she earned or which politician she lobbied, her work did not earn the systemic change we all need.
Prior to Portland police officers targeting Simona for arrest and violence, the city of Portland asked her to open and close the city’s week of awareness for murdered and missing Indigenous women (MMIW). Being repeatedly beaten, tear gassed, and charged with federal crimes for nothing more than standing up for racial justice makes it clear that Simona was not unlucky or in the wrong place at the wrong time. Rather, the legal system is functioning as designed in order to subjugate people of color. The system is fucked and Simona will not stand around, waiting for it to harm more people.
Simona is a mother and grandmother. One of her joys is spending time with her family and watching her grandchildren grow. She is also a poet and actor. Don’t assume Simona spends her creative time as an escape from advocacy, though: She focuses her acting work on roles providing much-needed positive representation for Indigenous women, such as the music video for “Fearless Girl,” embedded below. Simona’s poetry is equally political, drawing on her own experiences with sexual violence and other abuse.
In addition to her current community defense work, Simona is enrolled in Portland State University’s Indigenous studies program. Simona plans to pursue a law degree after graduation, giving her another tool for protecting her community. Simona is currently at the Winnemucca Indian Colony to help Shoshone and Paiute elders protect their homes from destruction.
Simona defends her community. Now she needs your help in defending herself from legal repression.
Please support Simona