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Discovering Your Warrior Spirit with D.J. Vanas | Preview

Discovering Your Warrior Spirit with D.J. Vanas Teaches Us How to Lead a More Rewarding Life .

About the Show

In a new WNED PBS program, D.J. Eagle Bear Vanas (Ottawa) teaches us to tap into the power of our warrior spirit. By applying Native American traditions and philosophy to the challenges of everyday life, Vanas inspires us to find and empower the warrior in each of us.  

Discovering Your Warrior Spirit airs on PBS stations across the U.S. in August and September (check local listings). 


"A warrior fights for something bigger than self, leads by example, and isn’t focused on what they can get but what they can do for others. In a constantly changing world, the traditional warrior concept remains unchanged."

~ D.J. Vanas


The program provides a clear and compelling guide to creating a more rewarding and satisfying life, leading viewers to recognize and use their assets, leverage their own strengths, and have a positive impact on others. As we emerge from the global pandemic, many are examining their lives and seeking a more meaningful path. The message of “Discovering Your Warrior Spirit” is as timely as it is timeless.   

“We’ll explore powerful, timeless Native American warrior principles that provide a roadmap to navigate challenging times, create clarity, renew strength, express your warrior spirit and serve others,” said Vanas. "A warrior fights for something bigger than self, leads by example, and isn’t focused on what they can get but what they can do for others. In a constantly changing world, the traditional warrior concept remains unchanged.” 

Vanas’ personal path informs his work. Born to impoverished teenage parents, he graduated from the Air Force Academy and became a decorated Air Force captain, a best-selling author, and a sought-after motivational speaker. He is an enrolled member of the Ottawa Tribe of Michigan.  

“I learned the warrior path has little to do with the images of warriors I saw in movies and books,” said Vanas. “I learned through tradition that being a warrior is not for personal gain, glory or ego — it is a call to serve others.”  

In Native cultures, warriors developed skills necessary to be an asset to their tribe. Today, the warrior spirit means using our Creator-given talent and ability to be an asset to the “tribe” we serve. That tribe may be family, community, coworkers, or friends. 

The warrior spirit is not about being tough or flexing power over others. It’s about fighting for something bigger than ourselves, showing compassion, leading by example, and not focused on what we can get from others,but what we can do for them. The warrior spirit is rooted in service and transcends race, gender, age, or stage of life.  

Vanas outlines how service is the most fulfilling human endeavor we undertake on our warrior journey. It is our highest calling and why we are here. It is also our deepest need. Service to others is our most lasting legacy and what we leave behind when we’re gone. 

Inside each of us exists a powerful and positive force, a limitless pool of talent and ability. By allowing our warrior spirit to emerge, we learn to overcome obstacles and find the joy of fulfillment in our ability to serve others. Within each of us a warrior spirit waits to be discovered. Vanas outlines the journey leading to the ultimate role on our warrior path becoming an elder.  

“Elders are the backbone of tribal communities,” said Vanas, “the corporate knowledge and database of our cultures."  

Discovering Your Warrior Spirit with D.J. Vanas shows us how to keep growing, keep learning, and keep sharing.  

“Getting older is automatic but getting better is not,” he said. “Getting better is by design. When we purposefully continue to grow, gather wisdom, and share it with others in our tribe, we are fulfilling the role of an elder… and the world needs that now more than ever. Warriors don’t retire, they evolve.” 

About D.J. Vanas

D.J. Vanas shows people and organizations how to use traditional Native American warrior spirit principles to lead with courage, find clarity in chaos, stay motivated and serve at their best regardless of circumstances. 

He’s a tribally-enrolled member of the Ottawa Tribe of Michigan, a former U.S. Air Force officer and a bestselling author of The Tiny Warrior: A Path to Personal Discovery & Achievement (printed in six countries) and Spirit on the Run. 

Over the last two decades, D.J. has inspired the warrior spirit in clients such as Intel Corporation, Subaru, NASA, Procter & Gamble, the U.S. Army, Mayo Clinic, Costco and 500 Native American tribal nations to improve employee engagement, motivation, service, resiliency and forge leaders of character within their tribes. He was featured in the PBS film The Warrior Tradition

D.J. Vanas
Eileen Elibol/WNED PBS

Discovering Your Warrior Spirit with D.J. Vanas is a production of Buffalo Toronto Public Media, Driftwood Productions, Inc., and Native Discovery, Inc. 

Discovering Your Warrior Spirit with D.J. Vanaswas made possible by Independent Health and by PBS.