Native America Calling - The Electronic Talking Circle

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Rural villages in Alaska are in a public safety crisis. One in three communities in Alaska have no local law enforcement, according to an investigation by the Anchorage Daily News and ProPublica. In some areas, crime victims—often Alaska Natives—must wait hours or even days for officers to respond. In some cases, residents are forced to apprehend people who pose a threat to the public. U.S. Attorney General William Barr declared an emergency, making $10 million of federal money available to boost rural law enforcement. The same day, Governor Mike Dunleavy vetoed $3 million in spending for Village Public Safety Officer positions. In this hour we’ll look into law enforcement in Alaska and what solutions might help.
Native entrepreneurs and even some tribes see grocery stores as a double win: they help the local economy and provide healthier food options in places where they aren’t often available. The USDA finds many rural areas of Native America are food deserts—areas without grocery stores or farmers’ markets with fresh produce. We’ll hear from Native grocery store owners about what it takes to make to be profitable on their reservations.
“Between Two Knees” is the first play from the Native comedy troupe, the 1491s. It’s at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon through Oct. 27. It’s a biting comedy that the Seattle Times calls “a loose pastiche of irreverent historical satire.” We’ll hear from the 1491s about using comedy and live theater to open a dialogue about systematic oppression.
Alaska faces severe budget cuts that significantly affect higher education, social services, and public safety, especially in rural villages. We'll get an update on efforts to both prepare for and halt the budget vetoes taking effect. A Navajo man is making a bid for the 2020 presidential race. His platform includes re-writing the constitution. Also authorities continue to clash with protesters in Hawai’i over the pending construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope. We’ll get an update from people who are there. And the Red Press Initiative is looking at press freedom in Indian Country. We’ll find out why. We’ll round up the most recent news.
The first feature-length fictional film in the Haida language, SGaawaay K’uuna (Edge of the Knife), tells a story of a 19th Century Haida man who retreats to the wilderness. The documentary “Words from a Bear” is a biography of Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist N. Scott Momaday. In “Warrior Women”, the role of women in the American Indian Movement. These are just a few of the 53 films at this year’s Native Cinema Showcase. We’ll talk with some filmmakers to get a behind-the-scenes look at their films and hear about what else to expect from this year’s event.
A place where Maori first settled and thrived in New Zealand is the site of a proposed housing development. Protesters have been camping out at Ihumatao for almost three years. They want to halt plans to sell off the land that Maori people say was illegally seized by the government more than a century ago. Auckland city officials are in talks to try and resolve the dispute. At the same time, demonstrators are also calling for a change in the country’s child welfare system that puts Maori children in state care at a far greater rate than the rest of the population. We’ll hear more about New Zealand Maori people speaking out to protect sacred land and culture.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians are gearing up for a celebration in North Carolina this weekend to honor the return of a sacred mound. It’s been a long journey for the Nikwasi Mound that was once the center of a Cherokee town, but is now surrounded by two busy roads. The mound was nearly bulldozed at one point. Now, after years of discussions, the city is transferring control of the land to a non-profit run by tribal members. It’s the last of three mounds to be returned. We’ll hear about the mound’s unique history and the years-long effort to get it returned and protected.
Many tribes organize wellness events and develop programs to educate people about healthy choices and food options. For the most part, involvement is voluntary. Some tribes go a step further to try and improve the health of their citizens. The Navajo Nation president banned throwing candy at the popular Navajo Nation Fair parade. It sparked a public discussion about the best ways to create healthful changes. The Navajo Nation is also known for adding a tax on soda and junk food. What do you think is the best way to go about improving health and wellness in an entire tribal community?
It’s a given that the fashion runway is about making statements with fabric and design. The catwalk is also being used to tell Indigenous stories and bring awareness to issues that test the strength of our Native nations. We’ll hear from Native designers about the role fashion can play in conveying emotions that come with issues ranging from stolen relatives to colonization to a resurgence of culture.
A Shoshone-Bannock citizen could be the first prison inmate to have court ordered gender confirmation surgery. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with a lower court judge, ruling that by denying Adree Edmo the surgery while in custody, the Idaho Department of Corrections is violating her constitutional rights. Edmo argues having the surgery is life-saving. She had previously attempted suicide. One 2015 study from the National Center for Transgender Equality found more than half of the Native transgender people included in a larger, national survey said they attempted suicide. We’ll explore the legal implications for the federal court decision and expand the discussion to the factors that go into a person’s decision to have sex reassignment surgery.
Some people have a knack for learning language. Others struggle to keep track of nouns, verbs and syntax. Either way, adult tribal language learners have a big task. Just getting started might seem daunting. And following through and frequent practice are key. We’ll get tips for getting started, keeping going, and passing along your Native language.
Native youth are over-represented in state and federal juvenile justice systems. In addition to the perpetuation of historical trauma, juvenile facilities have a long way to go to adequately meet the needs of Native young people. It’s the first day of the National Congress of American Indians annual conference in Albuquerque New Mexico and we are broadcasting live with a focus on traditional healing, Juvenile Healing to Wellness Courts, research, and other ways that juvenile justice institutions can go beyond punishment to maximize the likelihood of success for young people.
Dr. Ann Bullock (Minnesota Chippewa Tribe/Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa) is one of the nation’s leading voices on diabetes research. While the statistics on diabetes and Native Americans is troubling, Bullock will be the first to highlight some of the positive developments in fighting the disease. Bullock is the director of the Division of Diabetes Treatment and Prevention at the Indian Health Service. She is passionate about improving the health of Native people. We’ll talk with her about her life and what drives her work at IHS.
Century-old recordings combined with state-of-the-art technology are giving some tribes new perspectives on their languages and songs. Wax cylinder recordings of songs and stories from the late 1800s took a roundabout journey and are now providing new insights for the Passamaquoddy tribe, which has few fluent speakers left. Many other tribes are also hearing the voices of their ancestors documented during the birth of analog recording but revived using technology perfected only recently.
A group of educators in North Carolina are appealing a ruling that rejected their application for an Indigenous-focused charter school. Members of the Charter Schools Advisory Board took issue with the term “red pedagogy” coined by academic Dr. Sandy Grande (Quechua). Red pedagogy is an educational theory that focuses on Native thought. One board member expressed concerns it would be “divisive instead of bringing unity.” We’ll learn more about ‘red pedagogy’ and talk with the educators working to start the charter school.
President Donald Trump’s new executive order will develop an “aggressive, government-wide strategy” to address the missing and murdered Indigenous women crisis. Named ‘Operation Lady Justice,’ the plan calls for a task force made up of government agency leaders. At the same time, the Department of Justice announced a separate plan establishing 11 coordinators to work with tribes, and state and local agencies to address reports of missing and murdered Indigenous people. We’ll get a rundown of what these efforts could mean for tribes.
Before you fill up your Amazon cart with electronics, scented bath salts or chocolates, consider your Native gift options. The holidays are a great time to show your support for Native artists, tribally run businesses and Indigenous products. We’ll get few recommendations for stuffing your stockings with Native pride.
When two Indigenous women meet under frightful circumstances, they build a relationship by facing domestic violence, racism and a long history of colonialism in Vancouver. That’s what “The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open” is about. It’s a new film (released Nov. 29 on Netflix) by Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers (Blackfoot and Sámi) and Kathleen Hepburn featuring actor Violet Nelson (Kwakwaka’wakw First Nation). We’ll speak with some of the creatives on this project about highlighting the issues of violence against Native women in an emotional film that’s already getting rave reviews.
A powwow or Native community event isn’t complete without the arts and crafts section. Among the jewelers’ and artists’ tables are booths displaying mostly inexpensive art pieces that are hand-sewn, glue-gunned, glittered and painted. These items and the craftspeople who make them don’t always get the spotlight, but their presence is ubiquitous. We’re giving them some well-deserved attention and talking about the art of the craft.
Oklahoma governor Kevin Stitt (Cherokee Nation) believes a compact signed with 31 tribes in the state expires on January 1st and he wants to renegotiate the fees the tribes pay to the state. Tribes say the compact renews automatically, and have walked out of recent negotiations with the state. It’s most likely headed for the courts. At stake are 76,000 jobs and more than $100,000,000 in revenue that benefits Oklahoma public schools. We’ll talk with experts about how common it is for states to battle with tribes over compact fees.
All those chosen as Miss Indian World are ambassadors presenting a positive public face to the public. Reigning Miss Indian World, Cheyenne Kippenberger (Seminole) is also traveling the country, working to destigmatize mental health issues. She fought her own insecurities and self-doubt to compete out of her ‘comfort zone’, going on to first win Miss Florida Seminole, then to be the first Seminole woman to win the Miss Indian World title. We’ll talk with Kippenberger about what she’s learned since winning the crown and what her plans are for the remaining months as Miss Indian World.
Musicians find inspiration in love, heartbreak and…the holidays. It’s the time of year when songs about winter, snowmen, sleigh bells and festive lights fill your playlist. Native songs celebrating the season include covers of classic holiday songs with Native instruments and languages. You don't want to miss out on the throat-singing version of Carol of the Bells. Native musicians also compose their own originals about Christmas in the Pueblos, winter solstice and dogsled rides. We’re giving the gift of the sweet sounds Native holiday music.
A graphic anthology that includes 150 years of Canadian history from an Indigenous perspective; a collection of poems by Native women focusing on gratitude; and a story about a Cherokee middle-schooler’s enlightening road trip. All of these are books on the American Indians in Children’s Literature “Best of 2019” list. We’ll talk with Debbie Reese (Nambe Pueblo) about her favorite books by Native authors for young people that she curled up with this year. We’ll also check in with Indigenous librarian, Catherine Baty (Big Sandy Rancheria Band of Western Mono Indians), about her favorite Native books she read this year. And author Cynthia Leitich Smith (Muscogee Nation) introduces us to “Heartdrum,” a Native-focused imprint of HarperCollins Children’s Books.
We’re taking time to celebrate the lives of some of the Native people we lost this year. The life of hip hop artist Wake Self, whose given name was Andrew Martinez (Apache) was tragically cut short before his latest album was set to release. We’ll talk with his close friend Def-i about his life and legacy. We’ll also remember other notable people who died, and we’ll take your calls.
Every January is a time for new beginnings and resolutions. We’ll get you off on the right foot with some positive vibes from some inspirational people. Whether it’s studying harder, finding more patience or reaching physical fitness goals, our guests can offer some encouraging words to get you off on the right foot.
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Podcast Details

May 4th, 2016
Latest Episode
Mar 30th, 2020
Release Period
No. of Episodes
Avg. Episode Length
About 1 hour

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