Tag Archives: Indigenous Cultures

Native Communities Seek to Keep the Spirit of the Powwow Alive During the Pandemic

by Alexa Peters


Any Native American powwow performer, artisan, staffer, or organizer will tell you that a powwow — rich with intricately-beaded regalia, the dust of dancing moccasins, and the call and response of traditional songs — is a celebration of life itself; it’s a chance to honor the drum that beats in us all.

While nothing can stop the beat of this drum, the ways of celebration must adapt during the COVID-19 pandemic, which disproportionately affects Native Americans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that in 23 selected states, the number of laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases among American Indian and Alaskan Native people “was 3.5 times that of non-Hispanic whites.”

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Highline Black and Native Speaker Series Provides Opportunities for ‘Rewriting History’

by Jack Russillo


Rose Davis doesn’t get offended when people have misconceptions about her people, the Muckleshoot Tribe, as just the owners of a casino. Instead, she views those instances as opportunities to set the record straight.

“I think that it serves as the perfect way to educate more about who we are and where we come from,” said Davis. “And that way we’re people behind the casino and hopefully people in the U.S. know us as a people more than just as a casino.”

Davis was asked by a student whether she got offended when people asked about her people’s relation to the casino while speaking during her virtual presentation on January 11 as a part of the ongoing Highline Black and Native Speakers Series. She spoke virtually in front of Highline High School students to share her experiences as a mixed heritage Native and Black woman and also as a language teacher and cultural preservationist. Davis currently educates teachers and students about the Muckleshoot dialect Lushootseed at Highline’s Native Education Program.

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Seedcast: On Home and Belonging for Black and Indigenous Peoples

by Inye Wokoma

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.


One of my earliest memories is of my grandfather waking up every morning before the sun came up. I was born in 1969 and in my early years, before my mother married my father, we lived with my grandparents. By the time I was maybe 4 or 5, my grandfather had retired. He had served in World War II in the motor pool in the South Pacific, and then, when he came to Seattle, he got a job at the Naval shipyards down on the piers here in the sound, later working with the transportation department until his retirement in the early ’70s. He came from a family of tenant farmers who migrated to the Northwest from the South who were used to working on the land. Their work ethic never left him. 

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Seedcast: Matt Remle on the Capitol Insurrection and What Happens Next

by Jess Ramirez

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.


We are living through some of the most historic events in the short history of the United States right now, and there’s a question I can’t shake: how does the reaction of law enforcement to the storming of the Capitol on Wednesday, January 6, 2021, compare to the reaction of law enforcement to Indigenous-led protests over the Dakota Access Pipeline or Standing Rock? We’re spending the first part of 2021 deep in planning for our next set of Seedcast episodes, so here is a separate conversation I had with community steward/organizer and father Matt Remle (Hunkpapa Lakota) about his take on last week’s insurgency, his assessment of the inequalities laid bare, and our hopes and responsibilities in the wake of it. We got to know each other while working on the campaign to get Wells Fargo to divest from the Dakota Access Pipeline. Matt is a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and was a local Seattle leader in that campaign.

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Seedcast: Reciprocity

by Taylor Hensel

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.


We have always been storytellers. By “we” I mean Cherokee people, and when I say “always” I mean since the beginning of time. Our stories are woven into the very fabric of our being and hold the language, medicine, and values that have sustained our people through genocide, pandemic, and colonization. They remind us of how to be good relatives to all beings and ground us to our place in the world. The stories of our past are just as important today as they were centuries ago. New and old alike, stories are a gift, a way to share and even more so a means of honoring who we are and where we come from. We raise our voices and uplift our people through creating.

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Seedcast: Taholo Kami and Sen. J. Kalani English — a Collective Talanoa

by Romin Lee Johnson

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.


We are now in our third month of Indigenous storytelling with this wonderful mixed-media column of personal essay, podcast, poetry, and imagery. This month we want to underscore, through this reflection on episode two of Seedcast, the voices of two charismatic Pasifika leaders who demonstrate the ability to navigate the western world of politics with a deeply rich and culturally nuanced balance of Indigenous-centered policy. 

In the second episode of Seedcast, Nia Tero’s Jessica Ramirez interviews two well-respected elders at the forefront of Indigenous Pacific Islander issues, Taholo Kami of Fiji and Sen. J. Kalani English of Hawai‘i. In this episode, they each reflect on the Pacific Islander tradition of talk story as an act of resilience, identity and public policy, youthful romanticism for the past, and how these island communities have had to adapt in the age of COVID-19.

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Seedcast: Indigenous Filmmaking, Using Technology to Adapt to COVID

by Ben-Alex Dupris

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.


I recently directed a tribal honoring segment for All In Washington: A Concert For COVID-19 Relief. It was aired live on local television and now lives on Amazon Prime. The celebrity-filled virtual event, which included Coach Pete Carroll, Macklemore, and Pearl Jam, raised 45 million dollars for local organizations struggling desperately to provide support to Washington State residents during coronavirus. It was an exciting opportunity to get paid for creative work in the middle of the pandemic.  

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Declining Marine Health Threatens Traditional Subsistence Fishing for Tribes

by Frances Lee


Melissa Watkinson recalls a time in the past when she could go crabbing at the end of the dock in the Puget Sound and catch a great deal of crab. She can’t do that anymore. These days, she has to go on a boat into deeper waters to catch any. 

“My nieces won’t know what it’s like to be able to throw a pot at the end of a dock and catch some crab,” Watkinson said. 

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Seedcast: Indigenous Ways of Being — Reclaiming Authenticity in Storytelling

by Taylor Hensel

Indigenous peoples and communities have long used stories to understand the world and our place in it. Powerful, prophetic teachings can be found in our stories which explain reality but also give us the momentum to imagine and make urgent change. Among these lessons, there is one that tells of a time when Mother Earth will be in pain and Indigenous stories and teachings will be needed for healing. I firmly believe we are in that moment now. In the midst of a global pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement, the world is on fire and we are faced with the challenge of confronting deep truths about inequity and injustice. This challenge must be met by a solidarity between Indigenous, Black and Brown peoples speaking up for change. In this spirit, the South Seattle Emerald is proud to launch a new monthly column in partnership with Nia Tero as a creative platform for Indigenous voices and narratives. Our first story is an op-ed, by colleague and Indigenous creative Taylor Hensel (Citizen of Cherokee Nation), who brings light to the power of story and the storyteller. Her analysis of narrative as power encourages us to ask — What new stories can we tell to help create the better world we desire?

—Tracy Rector, Nia Tero Managing Director, Storytelling


One of the most effective ways to disempower a group is to disturb its unity. The ongoing systemic attempt to erase Indigenous peoples through division has deep roots in the foundation of government and most western constructs, including storytelling. As a Cherokee filmmaker and journalist, this is a reality I know to be true. 

For centuries, false narratives imposed on Black and Brown people about themselves and their communities have been used as tools of disempowerment. In the midst of a pandemic and civil rights reckoning, the need to rebuild and reform systems that continue to promote injustice is clear. One of the ways institutionalized oppression is continually reinvigorated is through the misrepresentation of marginalized peoples. This is done through the stories that have been told and continue being told about our past, present, and future. 

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