From before I can remember to the age of 17, I spent many weekends hanging out, cleaning dishes, and flipping frybread at Intertribal Friendship House in Oakland, California. My mom grew up at this Native American community center, which meant my sister and I would too.
When I entered the hall one day as a preteen, banners and a solemn mood hung over everyone’s head. Breaking the communal silence, a Diné elder shared a prayer in our language, and then in English. The prayer went to all of us, then extended far past Oakland, and into a secluded cell where the Elder hoped it landed with Leonard Peltier. This wasn’t our usual community dinner and celebration, but a rally for Peltier — a wrongfully imprisoned spirit-warrior.
Indigenous peoples and communities have long used stories to understand the world and our place in it. Seedcast is a story-centered podcast by Nia Tero and a special monthly column produced in partnership with the South Seattle Emerald about nurturing and rooting stories of the Indigenous experience.
Since the 1940s, Native people have been protesting professional and non-professional sports teams with racist names and mascots. From the Cleveland Indians to the Washington NFL team, Native-appropriated mascots have been portrayed as some sort of “honor” to the Native community. However, naming a team after a racial slur or allowing opposing fans to chant “Kill the Indians” and “Scalp em bro” is not honorable to me or my ancestors.