Happy Indigenous People’s Day! The Jilted Indians are back for season FOUR with an episode to signal boost issues being faced by indigenous communities. We talk history, current events, and allyship. We also want to hip you to some amazing art and highlight organizations serving indigenous communities.
Season 4 is on Spotify
Obviously we are going to honor Indigenous People’s Day by talking about our favorite toppling of Christoper Columbus statues. There was Richmond, VA and Boston, MA in June 2020, Baltimore, MD in in July 2020, and Mother Nature herself, helping out in Lake Charles, LA.
In our first segment back we scratched the surface on the Black Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) term and well, its complicated. On a linguistic level, a cultural level, and how specifically the “Indigenous” identity is often minimized to tropes and stereotypes. Puja talked about Elder Nathan Phillips and how there is a difference in coverage of Native Americans in Native publications vs. mainstream ones. All in all the Covington Catholic debacle of 2019 followed the tropes and erased the news of the reason Elder Phillips was in DC that day, and it was to participate in the First Indigenous People’s March.
Anju gave us some sobering facts regarding the state of Reservations and the impact of COVID19 to Native Communities resulting in a disproportionately high death rate compared to their actual population. The cause? Lack of government funding and poor management (by the Indian Affairs Bureau). We specifically talked about how Indigenous communities are economically impacted because social distancing and stay at home orders has reduced the tourism revenue stream. The Navajo Nation has been uniquely challenged by the COVID19 pandemic because of the lack of basic necessities such as running water.
The stunning 5-4 land victory from the Supreme Court’s McGrit v. Oklahoma decision resulted in almost half of Oklahoma being declared Indian Country. The decision held up hundred year old treaty rights between the US Government and the Muscogee Creek Nation. Naturally, there are barriers that make the victory shaky though. Including potential Congressional limitation of the treaty and bad faith actions from the Oklahoma AG and other state officials. Implications of the ruling are many, and we anticipate a lot more litigation in the land rights arena.
Learn more about the Restored Tribal Lands
- Muscogee Creek Nation – https://www.mcn-nsn.gov/
- Cherokee Nation – https://www.cherokee.org/
- Chickasaw Nation – https://chickasaw.net/
- Choctaw Nation – https://www.choctawnation.com/
- Seminole Nations – https://www.sno-nsn.gov/
In our second segment we talked about Native and Indigenous art that we have come across. Miranda is into the Native and Indigenous podcast “This Land” from Crooked Media. Read more about host, Rebecca Nagle here. Anju highlighted the story of Rebecca Roanhorse and her novels as well as the critique and complicated issues of identity. She is a science fiction/ fantasy writer under Rick Riordan’s Heroes imprint. Puja is on a mission to find the full performance of protest art, the first Native American opera “The Sun Dance”, written in 1913 by Native Activist and Feminist Zitkala Sa. Zitkala Sa collaborated with composer George Hanson for “The Sun Dance” we urge you to check out the Native American Composers Apprenticeship Project (NACAP)
In the final segment of the season four premiere, we highlight different ways you can help indigenous communities via awareness, activism, and accountability:
- Partnership with Native Americans – http://www.nativepartnership.org/site/
- The Black Hills Legal Fund – www.bhlegalfund.org
- Seeding Sovereignty – https://seedingsovereignty.org/our-campaigns
- Navajo Water Project – https://www.navajowaterproject.org/cbs
- Navajo Dig Deep Water Project – https://www.navajowaterproject.org/
- Official Navajo COVID Relief Fund – https://www.nndoh.org/donate.html
- United Natives – https://unitednatives.org/
- Navajo Solidarity – https://www.navajohopisolidarity.org/
- Biden Campaign Committments to Indian Country –https://joebiden.com/joe-bidens-commitment-to-indian-country/#
Thanks for Listening. Check out our Instagram for more info on the orgs and link to their social media accounts for current info.
Past Indigenous Peoples Day Celebrations
Transcript of Season 4, Episode 1
Miranda: You got rhythm, you got depression. You got 2020 please. We did not ask for this.
Anju: 2020 is strong, strong evidence in favor of a vengeful god.
<Intro music plays>
Announcer: You’re listening to the Jilted Indian Podcast, a show that examines the immigrant and 1st Gen South Asian American experience through politics, history, and pop culture. Join our hosts as they explore all the ways they don’t fit in, reclaim their connections to their Indian heritage, and eventually say “Fuck it, we’re starting a feminist commune”. Here are your hosts.
<Intro music ends>
Miranda: Welcome to season four of the Jilted Indian Podcast, listeners. This is Miranda.
Anju: And Anju and we come with love and courage to present our annual Indigenous Peoples’ Day episode.
Miranda: A lot has happened since we last recorded but one thing stays the same and that’s our commitment to highlighting Issues affecting the Indigenous community and amplifying messages and art from these often marginalized voices to become better accomplices. Before we get started on the more serious side of this topic, I’d like to ask a question: Which toppling of a Columbus statue in these recent protests was your favorite? Puja?
Puja: Mine was the June 7th in Richmond, VA. Protesters did not plan to topple the statue but they did. And they vandalized it, they spray painted it, and then they dragged it into Fountain Lake at Byrd Park. Now the significant thing about the statue is that it was the first Columbus statue put up in the South, it was the first to be erected in that particular park, and the first to have lighting at night time. And pretty much the statements from the mayor and the City Council were like, “Yeah, no, we get it. He was committing genocide and… It’s gone now.”
Miranda: Don’t you love it when they’re like “Oh, he trash. We get it, we get it.” OK, round of applause. Round of applause. We get to have this. Yay! My turn! Baltimore. In Baltimore, a Columbus statue was toppled by protesters and and it crushed to pieces, and this is so significant. Because what has happened in so many cities? They’d say, “OK, we’re going to remove this Columbus statue.” And there’s video of it being just carefully lifted and then moved to a museum. Which makes sense. That’s where a lot of colonizer shit goes anyways… It’s so nice to see irreparable harm done to a statue that they were protect– They would have protected anyway, but protected for no good reason. This man should not be glorified. So here, here! To the protesters in Baltimore who crushed that Columbus statue to pieces.
Anju: Uh, mine is in Lake Charles, LA, just a couple of days ago, thanks to Hurricane Laura which y’all might not think is a protest related, but I disagree. So, for those of you who have not heard, Calcasieu Parish police jury- – Which is, by the way, the name of their governing body: “police jury”. Um, they voted on August 13th to keep their Confederate monument in front of the courthouse, which is called the South’s Defenders Monument. And then on August 27th, thanks to Hurricane Laura, Mother Nature decided to issue a veto and knock that shit down. Knocked it right off that pedestal. So. I feel like that one gets an honorable mention for sure.
Miranda: Yes, here, here. Well, OK. Well, as we mentioned, this is our Indigenous Peoples’ Day episode and we’re going to talk about a few current events. And then we’re going to move on to a discussion about Indigenous art and creators we’ve been consuming lately. And, finally, we’re gonna talk about some action steps. Some things we can do and where we can go from here. Can I go first, ladies?
Puja: Yes, please.
Anju: Yes, please.
Miranda: Alright, let’s talk about “BIPOC”. You’ve seen this term, right?
Anju: Yes, quite a bit.
Miranda: In uh, like, call-to-arms posts and people saying, you know, “Support BIPOC businesses”, “Support BIPOC creators”, “Support BIPOC this and that”. And… it’s a complicated term, isn’t it? So let’s deconstruct this for a second. I think people mean well when they say BIPOC. I have said this word myself or this abbreviation myself, but let’s be honest. When you think about the Indigenous experience versus the Black experience versus the Latinx experience and then the Asian American experience. Can you say that these– And various other people groups. Can you say that any of these groups are groups you can throw together in one term?
Puja: I mean, if you wanna make it into a monolith – like the Joe Biden monolith of black voters – then you would group all Indigenous people and assume they’re the same. That’s– I mean… And then group all people of color and assume that’s the same.
Anju: I feel like that’s more true of “POC” than “BIPOC”. Which, my understanding of it was that BIPOC evolved as a way to specifically highlight that Black people and Indigenous people deal with a heightened level of harassment and oppression in our system than other people of color.
Miranda: And for us, as Asian American diaspora, it’s problematic to loop us in with the Indigenous and to loop us in with Black people. It’s problematic. And to quote this article by Vox: The reason why the term BIPOC is so complicated is explained by linguist and we’ll hook you up with the show notes, of course. There is no one size fits all language when it comes to talking about race. So I think it’s important that we recognize, you know, maybe this isn’t the best way to talk about these issues, or to – when we’re talking about advocating for – I think it’s important that we highlight the individual groups.
Anju: So there’s a place for using “POC” and then for using “BIPOC”. The problem is the way that they have become flat terms to be used in any situation where we’re talking about any group—Like, for example, right now we’re having a national conversation about Black people specifically, right?
Anju: And seeing the term BIPOC used a lot in those conversations. Which seems weird because it’s a flattening. We’re talking specifically about Black people. We’re not talking about Indigenous and POC. We’re talking about police brutality, primarily against Black people, right? Black lives matter. That’s what we’re talking about. So I think part of the problem is the way that we use those terms in places where it’s not the right place to use it.
Anju: Like there’s a place for talking about solidarity and collectivism. About, you know, the different types of oppression we all deal with versus white supremacy. But that shouldn’t be the default. There’s a place for that, but there’s a place for more specific conversations.
Puja: We have to point out a couple of things that– Well, first of all, I understood it to mean that the intersection of the Black identity and the Indigenous identity, in terms of social justice and civil rights, intersect more than it did with regular POC. Because Native Americans did not obtain rights to citizenship until 1924. And we just celebrated 100 years of the 19th Amendment this year and Native women did not have the right to vote in all 50 states until 1962, during when? The civil rights era. So we’re talking about an allyship between Black and Indigenous communities that have had to rely on each other. Because why? Model minority pulls other POC away from that and there– Then within the other, the grouping of POC, there’s immigrant struggles, refugee struggles, there’s other generational trauma considerations there. And so it’s, you know, not a mindfulness for Black or Indigenous struggles. I mean, I, I think… that’s how I understood.
Anju: I think you’re right, yeah.
Miranda: Yes, that’s, like, an excellent point as well. It’s just– It means well, right? And what it might have been meant for might have been co-opted for other purposes and it’s a little lazy. You know what I mean? So… Just wanted to bring that up, first of all, because it’s, um. I think it’s important to this conversation.
Puja: And, speaking of co-opting, let’s talk about equity and the power that each of those letters wield within the group of not white. OK? So I want to talk about Nathan Phillips, Elder Nathan Phillips. And you may remember him as the Native American Peacekeeper who the Covington Catholic boys taunted and jeered when he was praying for their safety. OK? And I want to talk about the media coverage. We all know what happened after that. That family hired a PR firm. The sneering, smug child. Made him seem human. And then what?
Miranda: “Poor me.” Yeah.
Puja: Yeah. What were the…? What was the coverage of Nathan Phillips in media? In non-Native media? It was “Peacekeeper.” “Standing Rock.” “Vietnam era, you know, veteran.” He was in the Marine Corp, did not serve. And then, you know… That was it. Nothing about his activism. Nothing about the fact that, you know, every Veteran’s day, there’s a ceremony at the Native and Indigenous War Memorial in DC. You know? To pray and things like that. And then, the other thing was, they were there for the first Indigenous Peoples’ March. And I don’t remember hearing a damn thing about the purpose of that March. Indigenous people are among the most vulnerable in society to abuse and foul play. Four out of five of Native and Indigenous or Alaska Native people have reported being the victim of violence. Four out of five, within their lifetime. OK? And that’s according to a 2016 study by the National Institute of Justice. And then, the other thing is, we’ve already talked about how Indigenous women are missing and trafficked and nobody cares and those numbers keep rising. And then, going back to the 1700s and 1800s in this country… There was a story that broke I think last week about the bison and how the American Army purposefully, during western expansion and pioneer days, hunted the bison to near extinction. There were 10s of millions hunted down to like 27 and every single bison that’s alive today – American bison – is descended from these 27. Just to starve Native and Indigenous people. Because they thought that was their main food. So there’s a history of marginalization that goes back to every point in history. And we didn’t hear about the purpose of the March. So in terms of power and equity within the BIPOC rubric, I feel like we need to do better – and we keep saying it – we need to do better to highlight the absolute atrocities that continue to occur against Indigenous populations.
Miranda: Yes, to highlight that one population which– among which, as you mentioned earlier, is a diverse people group. Not just one. So it is– It’s even important that we go take it a step further, and we’re going to talk about that more in this episode.
Anju: Right, and to that point, I wanted to specifically talk about COVID-19, the coronavirus, and how it has specifically affected Native Americans. Specifically the Navajo Nation which has been disproportionately impacted. But we know by now that COVID-19 has a disproportionate impact on disadvantaged communities in general, and most of those are communities of color. So Black people, Latino people… Because those communities tend to live in more crowded housing conditions, like they have multi-generational families living in homes. They work in essential fields. They have inconsistent access to healthcare. They have chronic health conditions. And they have higher levels of stress due to poverty. There are additional factors for Native Americans that compound that and Native Americans have the highest rate of hospitalization from COVID-19 of any racial group in the United States. Native Americans make up only around 1/10th of New Mexico’s population but account for more than 55% of its coronavirus cases. In Wyoming, they’re less than 3% of the state population and make up more than 1/3 of its cases. In Alaska, American Indian and Alaskan Native – which is the census term – people make up 15% of the population, only 6% of the cases, but 20% of the deaths. So, like, those are staggering numbers.
Anju: And that’s because of a higher rate of diabetes, heart disease, asthma, and respiratory infections that put them at a higher risk for poor outcomes. Those cases, COVID-19 cases are less likely to occur in tribal communities with English-only speaking households, which seems to indicate that a lack of, like, access to relevant public health in Indigenous languages is part of a problem. And then a large part of the problem is that, when Native Americans signed these treaties with the federal government, the federal government promised to provide them with healthcare and basic services. So they’re the only group in America that is actually– the federal government is obligated to pay for their healthcare. But those services have been chronically underfunded. The federal funding for AIAN programs has remained stagnant since 2003, y’all. That’s 17 years.
Miranda: Jesus Christ. I know you have more facts and stuff but fuck!
Puja: I mean, it makes sense. They—Women didn’t get the right to vote until 1962. Citizenship until 1924. Nineteen twenty four.
Anju: Yeah. Full voting rights until 1962. That’s ridiculous.
Miranda: OK, sorry, Anju. Continue. I just had to curse.
Anju: No, this one’s gonna blow your mind too. It’s OK. In 2017, Indian Health Services per capita spending for healthcare was $4,078. Which compares to $8,109 for Medicaid. That’s twice, twice as much. $10,692 for Veterans Affairs. And $13,185 for Medicare. That’s more than three times what Indian Health Services gets.
Puja: Oh my God.
Miranda: That is fucking insane.
Anju: So when we talk about the fact that they have chronic health, like, issues, that’s because there’s chronic underfunding of their public health services. Most tribal communities don’t even have a hospital. And, on top of that, the federal government is supposed to provide housing and there’s a lack of housing on reservations. Which means more overcrowding, which makes – obviously – social distancing kind of difficult. And this is the part that really blew my mind. Most of us take, like, plumbing – indoor plumbing – for granted in the United States. Apparently, in Native American household on tribal reservations are 3.7 times more likely to lack complete indoor plumbing. But even that 3.7 number varies widely between reservations. The Navajo Nation is at a much higher rate. Think about that. If you don’t have indoor plumbing, how hard is it to wash your hands regularly? Specifically getting to the Navajo Nation, which is the largest reservation in the US, it’s 27,000 square miles, which is about the size of West Virginia. They’ve had more deaths per capita than any state in the country. Their COVID-19 surge happened back in April and May. Thirty percent of homes, like I said, don’t have running water and more than half of them don’t have broadband. There’s only 13 grocery stores on the reservation. Again, the size of West Virginia. There’s 40 ICU beds for a population of 172,000 people. And, according to a 2011 Navajo Housing Authority report, the number of homes with more than two people per bedroom is 6 times as high as the national rate. Social distancing? Impossible. So their cases peaked in May, but they were really aggressive and testing—Like, they got that shit down. They were aggressive with testing, they had a strict lockdown and curfew in effect, and widespread mask compliance, and they were able to get those numbers, flatten that curve and get those numbers back down to the point where they’re just now starting to be able to reopen the reservation a little bit. But the surrounding states are now experiencing surges that could threaten that progress. And the one last thing I wanted to mention was the economics of this as well, because I don’t think people understand. All of our local governments, our city and state governments, can fund their services because they can tax us to make up that revenue. Because of Land Trust laws, tribal governments can’t raise enough money through taxation in order to fund their services, so they’re really dependent on revenue sources like the casinos, and like tourism. All of which is basically shut down thanks to the coronavirus. So not only are they having to deal with a disproportionate impact from COVID, but they’re having to try and fight that with diminished resources. Their funding is basically gone.
Miranda: I’m glad you brought that up because all of the opposition to Indigenous communities being able to make their economy thrive. They’ve been given roadblocks all the way.
Puja: Yes, and so before we move on to a small victory, hopefully that will lead to a larger victory, I want to draw your attention to Seeding Sovereignty. This is– They have a community care fund that was specifically set up to help manage COVID cases within Indigenous communities. So the Indigenous Impact Community Care Initiative works in partnership with the Apache, the Pueblo, and the Navajo communities in New Mexico, in addition to the Paiute, Lakota, Dakota, and Ojibwe communities around the country. So where need is critical, they immediately provide, you know, personal protective equipment and reusable masks and, you know, to communities in need. So if you would like to help– They also, you know, distribute food to elders and families and you know… They need money. They need money to help going. So if you’re able to give or able to share, this information will be in the show notes. You can visit seedingsovereignty.org/covid-19 for more information and to donate. So check them out.
Anju: I’m glad you mentioned that, Puja, ’cause I do have other organizations as well that we’ll be talking about later that you can contribute to – if you can afford to in this environment, because I know not everybody can – or just raise awareness about that are helping specifically Indigenous communities and particularly the Navajo community.
Miranda: Well, Puja, what other current events did you want to bring up?
Puja: So there was what we can consider a major land victory handed down by the United States Supreme Court. But, off the top, I want to say… We are not going to focus on the crimes at the root of the plaintiffs in this case. We acknowledge that they were terrible. They were violent. We’re not going to repeat them. But, for the sake of argument, just know that the land victory that resulted in the Supreme Court case does not justify the crimes done and by no way are we saying we think that, you know, this victory leads to their acquittal. That’s not what we’re saying here. First of all, let’s talk about who wrote the majority opinion of this case. It was Neil Gorsuch.
Miranda: Pause for shock.
Puja: So it was a 5-4, the four liberal justices joined by Neil Gorsuch. And I encourage everybody to read this opinion. Understand that he’s from Colorado, so I’m sure he has many interactions with Native communities there and has certain sensitivities towards their situation. Number two, his opinion is based on the premise of contract law, so don’t think this was “Oh my God, we’re going to get landslide victories going forward!” That’s not gonna happen.
Miranda: No, no, no. He’s not, he’s not like an angel all of a sudden.
Puja: No, no. OK, so quick and dirty background: McGirt v. Oklahoma. The quick and dirty. In 1885, Congress passed the Major Crimes Act, which is still in force today, and this gives the federal government shared jurisdictions over a set of Major Crimes, quote unquote “Major Crimes” listed in the bill, including murder on tribal land. And so, in 1968, Congress passed the statute limiting tribal authority called the Indian Civil Rights Act. Hahaha. And that law limited the sentences that tribes could impose to a maximum of one year incarceration. So they’re saying that tribal courts, sure, you have sovereignty. But for these low level crimes.
Anju: Shoplifting, basically.
Puja: Exactly. So for high level crimes, yeah, OK, yeah, you can do your little tribal justice, but federal court. They’re going to be tried in federal court for these crimes. So all those acts are saying is that the states have no right to try Native people committing crimes on Native land, right? So what happened in this case was that the plaintiffs, McGirt, and there was another, you know, companion case. I can’t remember the name of that plaintiff. They’re saying that they were convicted under Oklahoma state law and because of these previous tribal contracts and these major– The Major Crimes Act, he should not be convicted under state law. He wants a federal trial. And I believe he got reconvicted ’cause he was guilty, guilty, guilty. So anyway, what happened in this case was that it came down to Justice Gorsuch saying the last contract in place with the federal government and the Creek Nation said this: these 19 million acres, unless Congress comes in and takes that land away, right now belongs to the Creek Nation. So it was a huge land victory. That means that, you know, their sovereignty is impacted now, the ability to self determine, based on their practices and their systems of justice, what is punishable. Right? And what and how to deal with, you know, crimes in their community.
Anju: Puja, can you give us an idea of how much land that actually is?
Miranda: At least half of Oklahoma has been returned to these five nations.
Puja: Yes. So. A couple things to note here. That– The first thing is that Justice Roberts, Chief Justice Roberts wrote the dissent and he and everybody said, “Yo, whatever treaty we had, that 1832 treaty with the Creek Nation? Was void because the Creek Nation was trying to help the Confederate Army and the Confederates were traitors to the nation. Hold up.
Miranda: Oh! That’s news to me!
Puja: Hold up! So if that’s your logic, Sir, then anybody who is contracting with known Confederate lovers. Shouldn’t their contractual rights be examined now too? Shouldn’t the federal government cease contracting with these people now?
Anju: Not to mention that, if they did contract with the Confederates, it was because the federal government, um, already had violated the treaties multiple times, right? Like…
Puja: Exactly. Exactly.
Anju: The treaty’s suddenly void when the Native American tribes don’t live up to the letter of the law, but the federal government can just be like “Fuck you” as many times as possible and it’s fine.
Miranda: That is some trifling as shit.
Puja: Facts. And can we also acknowledge that Native Americans probably didn’t have a damn say in people raiding their reservations and kidnapping people and conscripting them to fight in the Confederate Army? Let’s not get that twisted. OK?
Anju: Oh, yeah, also a good point. It’s very unlikely that the Confederates who were fighting to maintain slavery were like “Native American rights! Yay!”
Miranda: Yeah… Although that is a theme, I’m glad you brought that up. You know, these white supremacists, these white male landowners saying “Oh, this is for the interests of the Native community” but what they’re really trying to do is gain things for themselves. That’s a theme. It’s a theme.
Puja: Yeah. So the effects, immediate effects of the decision. Of course, talks have broken down between the attorney general and the Muscogee Creek Nation.
Puja: Yeah. The most Muscogee Creek Nation is, you know, they’re pretty much saying “We will proceed in these talks if they’re done in good faith.” And they’re alleging that the state pretty much was banking on they were going to win. And so they had nothing in place to address jurisdictional concerns. And then the state is saying “OK, look, y’all are little sovereignty hobbyists.” OK? And so what he’s saying there is they have no rights. They are not sovereign tribal people there. Tribal nations are not sovereign on American soil. That’s the effect of those words. OK?
Anju: Isn’t that in direct contradiction to the Supreme Court ruling?
Puja: Exactly! So now, by saying that, the long term strategy– And he’s already joined – the attorney general of Oklahoma – he said that he’s already joined, you know, filed a brief or something like that in a Chickasaw Nation case, saying that their reservation has ceased to continue. So they’re not under Chickasaw Nation sovereignty. So despite the Supreme Court saying “No, no, no, no, no” and setting this precedent, you still have the state coming in and saying “No, no, no, no, no, we don’t care.” So you have that happening and then you have the fear that Congress will always go in and then limit the borders and discontinue the contract. And then start selling off the land. Which they did after the initial contract with the Creek Nation. When they said “OK, we won’t sell your land,” they came in 20 years later and was like “OK. $0.30 per acre” and sold off the land and bought the land from them. So it’s, you know, it’s whatever. And then the other thing is that I just want to read a quote from the Muscogee Creek Nation principle chief, David Hill. He said that “Jurisdiction is essential to sovereignty and self determination. Taking away authority would make sovereignty just a meaningless word. And forcibly taking away jurisdiction can hardly be called sharing.”
<Miranda and Anju groan>
Miranda: Anju and I grunted the same way at the exact same time in this recording. That’s all we have to say.
Puja: Yeah. So it’s a victory, but it’s already complicated.
Miranda: I’m so glad you brought up McGirt versus Oklahoma because that ties to our next section where we talk about Indigenous artists and creators. Puja?
Puja: We want to highlight some art in media and things made by Indigenous creators that we think you should check out. Because, as Miranda has said many a time, art made by a community expresses its zeitgeist. And art made by a continually oppressed community has, you know, the capacity to show you the best and worst of humanity. So we want to signal boost some Indigenous creators. And that’s what we’re going to do in this section and believe us, all of this material will be in our show notes.
Miranda: All the show notes. OK, so I’m going to go first. I got hooked on to a podcast by Puja’s suggestion that is called “This Land” and it’s a podcast by Crooked Media. All I have to say is “Wowsers.” This ought to be required listening in every single classroom in America. Let me tell you, if you were having issues paying attention to details when Puja was talking about the court case earlier, trust me, I hear you. I’m an ADHD child and I struggled myself. But Rebecca Nagle, who is a two-spirit queer journalist from Cherokee Nation hosts this podcast and talks about the case of Carpenter, I believe, versus Murphy and how it goes all the way to the Supreme Court. And that was the trial that preceded McGirt versus Oklahoma that Puja described earlier that restored those tribal lands to those five Indigenous nations. The reason why I say it is just– I mean, it is riveting. It’s done from the voice of an Indigenous person, a member of Cherokee Nation. And she’s not only talking about this case, she’s talking about it while they’re waiting for a decision. You’re listening to her emotions. You’re listening to her talk about her relationship to this court ruling.
Puja: Before you get to that, I want to express that when I was listening to this, I felt like it was set up for them to expect the loss. Right?
Miranda: Yes, oh my God, yes!
Miranda: Yes, that they were like totally negative, like “I kind of think that Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s gonna fuck us over again like she did with Oneida.” You know what I mean? Like it’s– By the way, if you don’t know what we’re talking about, go see Mark Charles’s Ted talk. It was just kind of like that. They were not expecting a win because how many losses? So that made it even more crazy to, like, listen to it ’cause the intent was to get the story across because there was so much loss. Am I right? Yeah. It was so incredible. So Rebecca Nagle is not only a citizen of Cherokee Nation, she is a descendant of Major Ridge, who was chief of Cherokee Nation. Who, with his people, were removed from their tribal land, their original tribal land in southeast America. Those, you know, the eastern side of America and they had to suffer the Trail of Tears. And this means– You know, we’ve been in planes for a while, and trains and automobiles. So, people, we’re talking about on foot, if you don’t remember that history lesson. On foot for 5,000 miles. 3,500 citizens did not make it, they died. They didn’t make it to Oklahoma, where they settled. This whole podcast delivers the nuance behind this court case, which includes the history of genocide, dehumanization, and erasure of Indigenous cultures. So she introduces the case. She describes the tribal lands at stake. She describes the opposition and spoiler alert: it’s white capitalists. She describes the history and nuance of what is being argued in the court. It even brings up– And it was so interesting how she brought up Diane Sawyer and Diane Sawyer’s report on this one tribal land, this one area ended up being tied to arguments made in court on this particular tribe – or on tribal rights – and so it’s like– You know, how we talk about how no representation would be better than misrepresentation. Right? Kind of like, if you think back to season one, we’re talking about how fucked up it was to have Apu be our, you know, representation of Indians? How terrible it was to have Fisher Stevens be a representation of Indians? No representation would have been better than this just insanely awful misrepresentation. And it went all the way up to a High Court. So she talks about that. She voices a demand, you know, that the Supreme Court keep the promises that were made to these nations, you know? Because you don’t just lose land when you take these reservations away from these tribes. That’s not the only thing that gets lost, and I don’t think people understand that. And the way she talks about it is so incredible. And, you know, she talks about how this is, you know, just one fight. This is, like Puja mentioned earlier, this is just one fight. This was one win. It’s not over. But you do get to hear her celebrate the win and let me tell you, like I had a hard time emotionally listening to that episode. Because she didn’t think that it was going to be a win. And you hear her scream, yell, cry. She’s crying over the phone with this lawyer from the High Court. And she was like, “Are you telling me that I woke up on a reservation?” You guys. Holy fucking shit. So if you haven’t checked out “This Land”, high recommend. I’m– And it’s going to bring up other themes. Like, for example, I didn’t know certain things listening to this podcast. Like I don’t feel like we know our own history because the foundation of how history is taught in our schools is rooted in nationalism, not in actual history. And I think that is part of the gap of why Americans struggle to own our story. They do because it’s rooted in shame. I mean, it is just so much shame involved and they don’t want to confront that. So this brings that back up. With the crazy thing I didn’t know either was that Major Ridge’s choice was between erasure and death and the crazy thing about that is erasure is death. So what choice did Major Ridge have? The heritage of our country is death, theft, and dehumanization and that’s not in our history lessons. What’s in our history lessons is “Yay, America, July 4th ‘Merica, fuck yeah!” Like that’s all it is and we don’t know this story. So, like, this podcast was super, super, super, super, super important and yes, Puja.
Puja: Miranda, before we, you know, move on to the other artwork consuming… I know another reason you love this show was because it was made and created by Indigenous creators and journalists.
Miranda: Thank you for reminding me. Yes. OK? So representational dream. So Rebecca Nagle, journalist from Cherokee Nation. Jerod Tate, music composer that, you know, I heard his music within the episodes. He is a composer from Chickasaw Nation. Kelly Gonzalez, a podcast artist from Cherokee Nation. Fire Thief Productions helped produce these episodes, which included Nathan Young, Citizen of Delaware tribe and Cherokee Nations; Jeremy Charles of Cherokee Nation; and Shane Brown of Cherokee Nation. And all of these names are stated at the end of the podcast and it is just so fucking cool to hear all those names. So if you haven’t checked out “This Land”, you may need to take breaks between. Take your blood pressure medicine. But it is incredible. You can even listen to it on 1.5 speed on Spotify, right now because I’m telling you, like, it takes the strength we all need right now to listen to this and really let it soak in. Like you– I’m begging you guys, learn from this. Because we will be better for it. What’s next?
Anju: I think I’m up next. My topic– When we first talked about it and decided who we wanted to talk about in this particular category, I wanted to talk about Rebecca Roanhorse, who is an author that came into my consciousness, I think maybe last year? It could have been two years ago. I have a terrible memory. But I’ve been following her for awhile. So I think ya’ll know, I’m a huge fan of science fiction and fantasy. That’s kind of my genre of literature. And she wrote a book called the Trail of Lightning, which is the first part of a series and it just sounded amazing to me immediately. ‘Cause I’m really drawn to Own Voices stories where people of non-European cultures draw on their cultural background in a way to tell new stories, right? Especially, like, science fiction/fantasy, like, kind of project them into a new environments. And this was such a cool idea to me because it’s a post-apocalyptic story about America after a climate apocalypse. So, like, we have environmental issues in this. And then it’s a story about how basically climate change has drowned a lot of Earth and the Navajo Nation is, like, kind of has been reborn, is now, like, on the coast essentially. And it’s a story about a woman who is a monster hunter in this time and her Native heritage and how she interacts with parts of Navajo supernatural, like, mythology and it’s just– It was really fascinating to me immediately. I have been following her on Twitter for awhile and this was something that I wanted to highlight in our topic. So we have a link to the Amazon article if you guys wanna look at it. She’s already written the second book in this series. And she’s also written a book in the Rick Riordan Presents.
<Puja and Miranda ooh>
Anju: Right? So she has like a middle grade novel for– that’s part of that whole– bringing a cultural to life for young students. So that’s a cool thing too. So that was the main thing that I wanted to highlight. While I was doing the research for this, I realized there’s also some controversy around Rebecca Roanhorse, so I feel like it would be irresponsible to not bring that up and talk about it. There’s some controversy about cultural appropriation and whether she really “counts” as Native American. So Rebecca Roanhorse is biracial. She’s Black. She was adopted as a child, so when she became older– She actually grew up in Fort Worth, incidentally. So, like, we’re all from the Dallas/Fort Worth area. So she’s one of us. But she hired an investigator to find her birth mother when she got older and she found her birth mother who told her that she was a Native American, descended from the – I’m going to say this wrong, I apologize for the mispronunciation – the Ohkay Owingeh Tribe of San Juan Pueblo Indians. Now, of course, because Rebecca Roanhorse was adopted, she has no real heritage– No real connection with this tribe that she’s descended from. And then, as an adult, she has lived on the Navajo Nation Reservation. She married a Navajo man. Her daughter is Navajo. And so the stories that she tells are really drawn more from Navajo culture than from her own culture. The controversy about this is about whether she has– whether that’s cultural appropriation, whether she really has a right to tell those stories, and also there’s a question about whether she violated some internal rules of discretion by revealing or talking about certain things that are not meant for outside consumption, and whether she misrepresented certain aspects of Navajo culture.
Miranda: I think that’s very interesting for you to bring up because it is also brought up in “This Land”. She talks about that very issue in one of the last episodes. So yeah, that’s really complicated. Really, really complicated.
Anju: It is complicated and I wanted to go ahead and talk about her because this is a conversation obviously for people within the community, which we are not. And there doesn’t seem to be a consensus about it. There are people who feel that she has overstepped and there are people who like what she is doing as far as providing representation for Indigenous people. So we included these links in the show notes for you. There’s a link that’s a defense of her and then a link that talks more about the criticism.
Miranda: I love that you brought up listening to the debate among the Indigenous versus US coming up to our, you know, coming to our own conclusion ’cause it is not our conclusion to draw. When talking about Indigenous voices, like, you’ll have scholars say, “I refuse to speak for Indigenous cultures”, even though they’re scholars of those cultures they’re like, “This is not my story to tell.” You know? So, like, it’s very interesting that you put it that way and I think it’s important to note. Puja, whatcha got?
Puja: OK. So I think I’ve mentioned Zitkala-Ša before on this podcast but she is an Indigenous writer and activist and she was also the person who wrote the first opera, the librettos of the first opera, featuring Native Americans and telling a Native American Indigenous story. And I wanted to talk about this, OK, ’cause it’s kind of interesting and we’re talking about, you know, while this is not an art that’s readily consumable because– I’ll tell you in a second why it hasn’t been performed that often. This was written between 1910 and 1913 with composer William F. Hanson, that motherfucker. And–
Miranda: I can laugh. I’m a musician.
Puja: It’s called “The Sun Dance” and so it was written as a reaction – you may call it a protest – to the United States banning the Ute Sun Dance and Bear Dance ceremonies. Now, while the Sun Dance is – according to the, you know, the link in the show notes – the Ute tribe, it’s their most sacred religious and spiritual ceremony of the year. And the Bear Dance goes back to the 1500s during the Spanish occupation of their land. So. And it’s a social event. And I’m just floored at the fact that the United States government, our old pals at the Indian Affairs Bureau, banned all dancing at the Southern Ute Agency and specifically forbade the Sun Dance and the Bear Dance in 1913. And so the Bureau attempted to control and disempower the rituals by suggesting that their performance was lewd and aligned with a false god and was more akin to a sideshow. So active marginalization of Native and Indigenous people by the government since 1913.
Miranda: That’s wild.
Puja: To me, this sounds like a violation of the freedom to exercise religion. Right? And so what this is saying here, the fact that nobody told the Native Americans “You can challenge it based on this.” Obviously people aren’t recognizing Native American spirituality as religions. The premise of the opera, it’s a love story, obviously, centered around the Ute ritual that was prohibited. And after Zitkala-Ša’s death in 1938, ole Willy Hanson decided to take the show on the road and so he left Utah, went to New York, premiered it in 1938, and it was panned. Because, I’m sure, him directing it, the stage adaptation in Big City, New York didn’t do it any favors. So he, upon his death, willed it to Brigham Young University, where it sat in their archives for the majority of this time. And hardly ever performed. So the last time it was performed– The most notable performance in recent times was in 2013. The Navajo siblings James and Sarah Singer performed it at the Native American Research Symposium at Westminster College. So that was the last time and those are the clips that are going to be on YouTube. And how I came across this was, um, nerd alert. I was watching a webinar about the 19th amendment. And, as part of their, you know, between speakers, programming was a slide show about famous feminists and it said Zitkala-Ša wrote the first opera about Native Americans in 1913. And that led me down this rabbit hole. So I’m on the hunt to find out more about it. But that’s just an amazing story. It’s protest art.
Miranda: I thought it was so cool when Puja brought up that opera because that made me go look. So that is the magic of being hipped to Indigenous art. So let’s talk about some concrete things we can do to be better allies to the Native and Indigenous communities, and we understand everyone has different levels of engagement and abilities and financial responsibilities right now. We are in the middle of a pandemic. So we’ve broken down these action items into three categories: education and awareness, where your money is needed, and advocacy and activism. And each of these things hold great weight when you consider yourself an ally. So, starting with education and awareness. I’m telling you, that one podcast just sent me down rabbit holes and rabbit holes and rabbit holes. But once I learned a little bit more about the Supreme Court ruling, I made it a goal for myself to dig deeper. I went and found the websites of each of the five nations: Muskogee Creek Nation, Cherokee Nation, Chickasaw Nation, Choctaw Nation, and Seminole Nation. And I’m now hipping myself to not just their history and not just their culture, but how do their governments work? What agencies do they have? What is commerce like? Education and interior affairs? They fight to be seen for themselves in our allyship. It’s up to us to do the work of making sure we see them fully. What else can we do to act? Anju?
Anju: We can donate to good causes. Again, in this economic environment, if you can. We’ve included a couple of links in our show notes but I’ll go ahead and run through them real quick. There is, specifically in relation to what I was talking about earlier with the COVID and how it has affected Navajo Nation specifically, there is an official donation fund for the Navajo Nation community. That money goes directly to the government and is dispersed by them, the tribal government. There’s the official Navajo Nation COVID-19 Relief Fund and that’s going to be www.nndoh.org/donate.html. And then there’s also the Navajo Water Project. Since we were talking about how they don’t have plumbing in a lot of homes in Navajo Nation. This project has installed 300 home water systems in Navajo Nation in the last four years. And that’s just a drop in the bucket of what they actually need. They have 170 families on the waiting list in just one town on that reservation. So it’s important work that they’re doing. We have their link as well. It’s NavajoWaterProject.org. And then there are two organizations in addition to what Puja had mentioned earlier. That is, they’re just buying and taking donations in, like physically taking them to the people who need it. That’s PPE, that’s diapers. It’s just all kinds of stuff that they need just to, like, survive right now. So there’s unitednatives.org and there’s also navajohopisolidarity.org. So those two organizations, they’re about taking that money and buying actual supplies and taking them to the people who need it most.
Miranda: Thank you, Anju. So we talked about education. We talked about putting your money where your mouth is. And now we’re going to talk about advocacy and activism. Puja.
Puja: So I originally had two things, but I have three things. You get a bonus, listeners.
Puja: Things you can do, both active and passive, as well as direct and indirect action. So the first thing. Direct action: We talked about Seeding Sovereignty. We talked about and Anju just gave a list of, you know, organizations that need bare necessities. But I’d like to big up Seeding Sovereignty individually. It is an Indigenous womxn-led collective that works on behalf of the global community to shift social and environmental paradigms by dismantling colonial institutions and replacing them with Indigenous practices. Can you imagine that work? Dismantling capitalism and replacing them with Indigenous practices. That’s– Wow, that’s heavy stuff. So that’s what this group does and they have a lot of campaigns right now to donate to. So there is the Shift Campaign, which works on the 2020 election. And there’s some pretty dope storytelling stuff on their website about two-spirited people and things like that so. It’s a real comprehensive look at, you know, Native people through the lens in terms they want to be seen in. And I totally, totally, totally advise you to go check their website out. Their other big project is called the Land Resilience Project and it’s to increase awareness of Indigenous ecological and land practices. And we all know, you know, Standing Rock. We know the big ones and things like that that’s been happening with land defenders. So there’s that. So it’s Seeding Sovereignty, S-E-E-D-I-N-G-S-O-V-E-R-E-I-G-N-T-Y.org and Mama, give me that first place spelling bee ribbon for that.
Puja: The other one is, you know, the recent 4th of July protests. Again, land defenders at Mount Rushmore. There is the Black Hills legal fund at BHlegalfund.org, where you can contribute towards the defense of those protesters. So those are two active, direct ways to help, again. The other thing is just learning– You know, it’s a combination of learning and giving your money and time. Become a provocateur, so to speak. You know, this information inspired the final passive thing you can do. The Biden campaign has Commitments to Indigenous Communities plan that’s on their website. I urge you to check it out because we’re going to all have to go in on holding this administration accountable for these promises. So they have things on there that includes immediately reinstating and making permanent the White House Council of Native American affairs. And the other thing was reinstate the annual White House tribal nations conference and nominate and appoint people who look like the country they serve. To serve on those committees and things, right? So you can read more about that. There’s a link in the show notes. Because we have to hold the administration accountable. Otherwise, they assume we don’t care and it’s not a priority.
Miranda: Yeah, that it’s just a way to get us to vote.
Anju: Right, I’m glad you brought that up, Puja. ‘Cause I was reading about how Obama had created an executive level group, basically like a board, basically– Not a board but, you know, like a team that was responsible for Native American affairs and they were supposed to sort of help expedite a lot of that stuff. Trump didn’t really even appoint someone, I think, to that until recently and until COVID-19 happened and, even then, there has been no actual activity, so it hasn’t really been helpful. So even though, like, Congress passed the CARES act which set aside $8 billion for the Native American community for virus relief, like, there’s just so much red tape for them to have to go through in order to get access to that money. And they have to spend it by the end of this year, December 30th, which is nearly impossible in a lot of ways. And there just isn’t a way for them to expedite that. So another thing is, like, hopefully with the next President, Joe Biden, they will have a more robust executive branch focus on helping Native American tribes have access to that kind of thing.
Puja: Sorry, speaking of red tape, one of the provisions of the Violence Against Women Act is money to tribal institutions to help investigate and aid victims of domestic abuse. We talked about so many times, at the top of this podcast, about the living conditions and the situations and the poverty – the poverty, we didn’t even touch on, actually – that affects these communities. And… Has the Violence Against Women Act been reauthorized? Has it? Has it?
Puja: Surprise, surprise.
Miranda: And then the fact that these things can happen with impunity.
Puja: We can keep going on and on because they, like– I want to say before we logoff about the state of the police on Native American land and how, like, there have– they have investigators that have to travel between reservations and homes to investigate crimes on a monthly basis. They’re always on the move, you know, there’s no set tribal police in certain areas and I’m just floored, floored, floored at how, on all fronts, we continue to attack this community.
Anju: Well, that comes back to the fact that they can’t tax and therefore can’t raise funds for those kinds of services without having revenue from casinos and from tourism and whatever. They have to find other ways to raise that revenue.
Miranda: Right, so… We gave you a lot in this podcast. We are glad you are back with us. We are pretty excited about the rest of the season. Not everything’s going to be heavy. Like, my dad is using emojis now and I have to figure out how to help him do Brown skin emojis. Like, we’re going to talk about that. So, like, it’s gonna get breezy, we promise. Here and there.
Anju: We’ll do our best if 2020, you know, cooperates.
Miranda: Yeah, throw us a bone. We’re, like, doing our best here. But until next time, this has been Miranda.
Anju: And Anju, with the Jilted Indian Podcast.
Miranda: We came with love and courage and hope you go in peace and power. Thanks for listening.
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Announcer: You’ve been listening to the Jilted Indian Podcast. The Jilted Indian Podcast is an independent production produced by the hosts, Miranda, Anju, and Puja. Make sure to subscribe and leave a review on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your podcatcher of choice. Follow the show on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at Jilted Indian Pod. For more information on episodes, including show notes, visit jiltedindianpod.com.
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Miranda: We wanted to say thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you to Rashee Raj for recording the intro and outro to our episode. We sound so fancy thanks to you. If any of you are interested in following her on the socials, it is @RasheeRaj. R-A-S-H-E-E-R-A-J. Check her out.