Tag Archives: Indigenous Storytelling

Seedcast: An Environmental Storyteller Reconnects to His Farming Heritage

by Felipe Contreras


In my role as an associate producer on the Storytelling team at Nia Tero, I have a bit of a reputation. Whenever there’s a photo or video shoot on a farm, they call me — “the farm guy.” So when I was asked to do a photoshoot on an Indigenous-run farm in Tacoma last fall, I accepted the assignment with glee.

That I’m “the farm guy” at Nia Tero might be a surprise to people I grew up with in Los Angeles, including my blended Latine family and community. The only farms I knew during my childhood were the ones our family car passed while driving on the 5. Before I would see the farms, I would smell the stench. And then we would see thousands of cows crammed in the isolated confines of what I now understand were factory farms. Once my dad saw me looking at the cows, and he said, “Those are not happy cows. Those are sad cows.” This was in stark contrast to commercials about “happy cows” from the same time period.

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The Vastness of Indigenous Love: A Thanksgiving Reflection

by Robin Little Wing Sigo (Suquamish)


ʔuʔušəbicid čəd 

Learning more of my ancestral language during this pandemic has been a powerful gift. The ability to say I love you in Lushootseed, brings deeper warmth and nourishment to the vastness of love.  Indigenous love grows from a place of compassion, an understanding that I concern myself with others, and they concern themselves with me. This week of Thanksgiving I am reflecting on how my liberation, my joy, my health is always tied to yours. We are together, wherever we are. 

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Highline Indigenous Voices Celebration Features Art, Education, Stories

by Patheresa Wells


Highline Public Schools Native Education Program will host an Indigenous Voices Celebration on Saturday, Nov. 27, 1–7 p.m., highlighting and honoring the work done by Indigenous earth/water protectors and First Nations food sovereignty leaders. The event will include viewings of two films, AWAKE: A Dream from Standing Rock and GATHER, as well as discussion about issues of importance to Indigenous communities — including the sacred work of water and land protectors — and sharings from Highline Native Education

Highline’s Native Education Program is a legacy program established in 1974 with the passing of the Indian Education Act. The program was started as a way to address the culturally related needs of American Indian and Alaska Native students. Since its inception, the program has had its own history of growth, but in 2013 it was relaunched with, as program manager Sara Ortiz says, a desire to be “visionary in our approach to native or Indian education … to include as many artists, as many culture keepers, scholars, elders, media makers, [and] language teachers [as possible].”

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Seedcast: Storytelling Is Guardianship

by Tracy Rector

Since time immemorial, Indigenous people have celebrated storytelling as a way to connect the present to past lessons and future dreaming. Narrative sovereignty is a form of land guardianship, and Nia Tero supports this work through its storytelling initiatives, including the Seedcast podcast, as well as in this monthly column for media partner the South Seattle Emerald.


Many of us have known for quite a while that climate change, accelerated by human decisions and behaviors, is not only real but a direct threat to life as we know it. While the findings of the IPCC report released in August of 2021 might not have been a surprise, that didn’t make them less alarming. The report inspired urgent conversations not only at planet-focused nonprofits like the one I work at, Nia Tero, but on a global scale and in individual homes: What can we do to heal the planet? What role can we play? Where are the solutions?

The good news is that human decisions and behaviors can also heal the planet, as evidenced by the land guardianship carried out by Indigenous peoples around the world in the form of tending to the land with fire, seed saving, or not taking more than you need. Indigenous land stewardship shows us not only the ways of the past and present but also the ways of the future. As an extension of that work, Indigenous storytelling links a millennium of knowledge with current day action. This is why Indigenous storytelling is an integral part of climate justice today.

Nia Tero Storytelling Fellow Jonathan Luna (Huila) connects Indigenous land sovereignty and narrative sovereignty in this way: “As part of creating the world, a place with more justice and liberation for all, historically oppressed and marginalized people, which include Indigenous peoples, need to create our own narratives regarding our lived experiences, be it historical or contemporary. The role of storytelling in these struggles, in all of its multiple forms and media, is fundamental and necessary; there are no imitations, fast-forwards, or shortcuts. The narratives of the people who dedicate their lives on the frontlines of defending the most biodiverse, water-rich yet fragile ecosystems that contribute to help sustain the world’s climate are the stories that policymakers need to be seeing and hearing.” 

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‘Thriving Peoples, Thriving Places’: Pop Art Campaign Honors the Contributions of Indigenous Women to Global Biodiversity

by Nia Tero

(This article originally appeared on Real Change and has been reprinted under an agreement.)


We are in a critical moment. In the midst of an ongoing global pandemic that is leaving no family untouched, compounded by increasingly extreme weather events linked to climate change, a unique global art project is shining a light on voices essential to the ecological solutions and collective healing we seek: Indigenous women.

“Thriving Peoples, Thriving Places” is a collaboration between two Seattle-based not-for-profit organizations — Indigenous-focused Nia Tero and design lab Amplifier — launching on International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, which is Aug. 9. The global exhibit includes six original portraits commissioned from Washington, D.C.-based artist and illustrator Tracie Ching. The art will be available digitally as well as at public art events in cities, including Seattle, Washington, D.C., New York City, São Paulo, and London. The project celebrates Indigenous women who have acted as stewards of biodiversity across Earth and prompts action amongst an engaged global audience.

The nine Indigenous women at the center of this project are robust examples of real action we can take to strive for the health and future of the planet. They are from communities spanning the globe, from the Philippines and New Zealand, to the Brazilian Amazon to Scandinavia, to the global north, embodying Indigenous experience while carrying generational knowledge and inherited dedication:

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yəhaw̓ Indigenous Creatives Collective is Here to Lift the Sky and Make a Space for Indigenous Art

by Kamna Shastri


There is a Coast Salish story about a number of neighboring villages, each speaking a different language but sharing the same land. While they did not understand one another, they had a shared challenge: When the Creator had made the world, he had left the sky a little too low. The village communities realized that though they spoke different languages, they had a shared word that could help them change the situation.

yəhaw̓ — a Lushootseed word meaning “to proceed” or “move forward.” Together they called out synchronously. Each time the word escaped their lips, a collective sound powerful and potent, the sky moved up just a little more.

This is the story behind yəhaw̓ Indigenous Creatives Collective, a newly birthed nonprofit which became a larger movement after beginning as a one-time art show at King Street Station in 2019.

“We felt like that was a really beautiful story in terms of art and the power of art and culture to unite communities and become a source of shared empowerment,” said Asia Tail, one of the collective’s three founders.

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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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