Heritage and religion are what have shaped and defined brothers Sean and Levi Loy. Having grown up on the Navajo Reservation in northern Arizona, these brothers learned how to embrace their Native American culture.
The Loy’s are one-quarter Piute-Shoshoni-Nez Perce and three-quarters Navajo, as their parents are registered with different tribes. The Loy parents met at BYU when they were living with LDS families outside of the reservation, as part of a placement program. They married and eventually moved back to the reservation where they raised their family together.
Being in a Navajo community, the Loy’s participated in different kinds of cultural celebrations, meetings and spiritual ceremonies.
They explained one tradition called Sweat Lodge, which is a spiritual cleansing ceremony. They sit in a small dwelling and endure intense heat from lava rocks while listening to song and drums. They use this time to think and to sweat out anything they don’t want in their lives. The Loy’s were happy to embrace the traditions of their ancestors, but always held firm to the same motto: “We are Christian first and Native American second,”said Sean Loy.
The Loy’s are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. They were taught by their parents and grandparents to put their religion before anything else, even if it meant passing on some traditions such as smoking tobacco or praying to deities. Their beliefs are the core of what they do and how they act.
“I look back on my life and see that everything we have is because of the Gospel,” said Levi Loy.
The Loy’s did experience some oppression as their family was LDS and Native American. On the reservation, Sean Loy said he would get picked on and teased for his religion.
They moved to Page, Arizona, where Levi Loy said that sadly, he did see racism against his people.
These brothers both chose to have a positive outlook from those experiences, seeing them as a strength rather than a hindrance. Now residing in Pleasant Grove, Sean Loy is studying business with a minor in exercise science and Levi Loy is majoring in exercise science. They both love playing sports and keep active. With Thanksgiving coming up, the Loy brothers say they celebrate the holiday with lots of food and lots of family.
“We don’t really like to think of the history of Thanksgiving because it is a bitter-sweet day for our people. We just like to see it as a holiday that we get to spend time with family,”said Sean Loy.
“We spend the day being grateful for what we have and just like spending time together,” said Levi Loy. They miss their family and small-town feel of living on the reservation, but go back to visit often.
Though they say they would probably never live there again, the reservat ion is an important part of who they are. They both agree it feels like home.