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“Turning Tragedies into Triumphs:  Stories & Conversations with Torah Bontrager” is a weekly podcast that features amazing and courageous individuals who have come forward to share their stories with the world.  The conversations between two fellow survivors take place over a virtual dining room table in a safe, judgment-free zone where we not only learn about accounts often never publicly disclosed before, but we also learn a little bit more about Torah along the way.

A companion show to her memoir An Amish Girl in Manhattan, Torah created the podcast to emphasize that trauma (of all colors, shapes, and sizes-- not only sexual) knows no boundaries and that her story of repeat sexual assault, abandonment, parental rejection, identity crises, disastrously failed romantic relationships and trust issues are heartbreakingly universal in our national and global cultures. 

Watch the episodes to be inspired and to know that you're not alone and that you don’t have to be extraordinary to be Extraordinary.  New episodes air each Wednesday. 

Please ask us questions and leave comments.  We will read all of them.  We want this to be an interactive show and build a strong community of support both online and offline.  Every four or five episodes, we will do a special "Question and Answer" segment where we pick from what's been submitted.  The more you comment/ask, the higher your chances of getting answered via the special. 

INVITATION CALL:  If you would like to share your story with the world, please contact us at  No story is insignificant.  The seemingly smallest things that happened to us as children can have a lifetime negative impact if left unaddressed.  This podcast and community is designed for you to feel safe, speak out in your own words and experience non-judgment and unconditional love from a human-hood of strong women, men and other/no-genders.

Apr 27, 2017

Brian Young is a filmmaker and MFA Writing for Fiction candidate at Columbia University, speaks fluent Navajo, and is currently writing a novel based on his native Navajo culture.  He’s also the editor for this podcast.  Brian addresses the shocking rates of suicide and depression within the Native American nations.

Brian is full-blooded Navajo with a BA in Film Studies from Yale University.  He grew up in an isolated community, much like Torah, on his Navajo reservation in the Southwestern part of the United States.  Brian left the reservation to better himself with education and found himself in many fish-out-of-water scenarios.  He is the founder and producer of the YouTube video series, Yeego Nitl’aa, the first 100% Navajo-language physical fitness film series.  One of Brian’s passions is to raise the profile on the beyond extreme mental health conditions of his people and offer practical tools on how to become a happier person through fitness.


  • That Native nations have become genetically predisposed to depression from trans-generational traumas inflicted by the European invasion of the land that is known today as the United States of America
  • How trauma is woven into the DNA of Native Americans
  • How Brian escaped killing himself when he was a teen


  1. Find Brian on Twitter:  @hungrynavajo
  2. Yeego Nitl’aa (Brian’s physical fitness video series on YouTube):  

  3. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:  Need help?  Call 1-800-273-8255.  24/7, free and confidential support.
  4. Indian Country Today May 28, 2015 article ("Trauma May Be Woven Into DNA of Native Americans”):  Download their free report, “Intergenerational Trauma: Understanding Natives’ Inherited Pain”, to understand this concept.
  5. American Indian Movement (to help the Native People regain human rights and achieve restitutions and restorations):
  6. The Huffington Post December 19, 2016 article (“Native American Youth Suicide Rates Are At Crisis Levels”):
  7. Washington Post March 9, 2014 article (“The hard lives — and high suicide rate — of Native American children on reservations”):
  8. For general information about the Navajo People:
  9. The United States Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) for the US position on Native Americans:

  10. Grief Recovery Method (for physical and emotional losses, to find grief support groups and for a free ebook for info on the various kinds of grief):
  11. RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network):; 800-656-HOPE; live chat.  Get help 24/7.  Free and confidential.   Call/chat if you’ve been violated.
  12. See S1Ep13: Brian Young on Growing up Navajo on the Reservation Without Running Hot Water, Native American Identity Issues, the Doctrine of “Manifest Destiny” that Still Exists Today (e.g., the Dakota Access Pipeline), and Whitewashed US Academics for how both Brian and Torah’s pre-college schooling came from 1970s textbooks
  13. See S1Ep15: Brian Young on the Origins of His Navajo People and Their Matriarchal Society, Torah’s Explanation on Why She Is Not a Feminist, and What Viewers Can Do to Stop the Dakota Access Pipeline (A Symbolic Wall) for an educated view on past and current Native American affairs