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Rachel Heaton

Where it Began

Rachel is a mom, climate activist, and a former body builder. She’s also a co-founder of Mazaska Talks, an enrolled member of the Muckleshoot Tribe, a member of Moms Clean Air Force, an advisory board member for the Green New Deal in the City of Seattle, an advisory board member for No Child Left Inside, and board member for the Strategy and Solidarity Board for the Equation Campaign.

Rachel's journey into activism began at Standing Rock, where she followed a call to stand in community in the fight for clean water, Indigenous Rights and land preservation. Following the camp closure, Rachel, like many others, felt something of a loss of purpose – so she sought solace in nature. She began venturing on short hikes with her son and at the same time, started work with the Muckleshoot Tribe’s Culture Department, where she began embracing indigenous plant practices and deepening her bond with the land.


Hikes with her son grew longer and longer, and the time they spent outdoors became time not only to move, but also to commune with the earth and deepen her spiritual practice. As she identified more ways to move (like rock throws, log pulls, and other means of using what is already outside) she transitioned her fitness programs outdoors, emphasizing the functional movements she learned in her time as a bodybuilding coach. Now, she leads her community in Earth Gym classes, wellness walks, and hikes – and she offers her expertise to anyone who wants to integrate indigenous knowledge into an outdoor fitness program.

Creating space and visibility 

Beyond movement, Rachel’s work is deeply tied to her responsibility to share traditional and cultural knowledge with the community that is growing and claiming these spaces – and to see her people represented outdoors – especially in places like national parks, which were created to move indigenous people out of those spaces. In 2023, she led the first team of Natives to on a climb of Mt. Tahoma  (Rainier) to do exactly this. In her words,

“This isn’t about the peaks. It’s about my people. I want to create visibility for us on the mountain.”

Rachel's impact reverberates through her community, inspiring positive changes in outdoor engagement and the recognition of indigenous presence in these spaces. King County recently awarded Rachel with a Racial Health Equity grant specifically to support her vision.


A vision for the future

Rachel's dream is for outdoor spaces to transcend recreation and the mindset of “conquering mountains and peaks,” shifting to a focus on holistic well-being and the sharing of indigenous knowledge —

“Because we can’t protect something that we’re not connected to – and the only way to get connected is by getting outside.” 

In the Media

Rachel is a well-known climate activist and speaker who has been featured in media throughout the Pacific Northwest and various places throughout the world. Explore her work below, and get in touch to book Rachel as a speaker for your event. 

South Seattle Emerald



Native News Online

South Seattle Emerald


Northwest Public Broadcasting


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