Tag Archives: Indigenous Storytelling

Leanne Betasamosake Simpson and Robyn Maynard Reimagine Liberation Together

Two writers and movement builders reflect on their new book, written as letters throughout the pandemic.

by Amanda Ong


This Wednesday, July 27, acclaimed writers, movement builders, and academics Leanne Betasamosake Simpson and Robyn Maynard will virtually visit Elliott Bay Book Company. The two are releasing a new book, Rehearsals for Living, a series of letters between the two written mostly over the pandemic. The book in itself is a dialogue between the two authors as they processed and reimagined life and liberation amid the pandemic. 

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Seedcast: Art, Revolution, and Native Futurity

by Eileen Jimenez

Help the Emerald create more “ripples and sparks” throughout the community! I’m the publisher’s mother and an Emerald founding board member. I’ve lived in Seattle all my life. Over most of those 77 years, the brilliance, diversity, and beauty of our community lacked a constant spotlight — that was until the Emerald came along. I’ve seen my son and the Emerald team sacrifice sleep, health care, self-care, and better salaries elsewhere to keep the Emerald shining a light on our community. I’d never ask anyone to make that kind of sacrifice, but I do ask to do what you can today to support the Emerald as a Rainmaker, or sustaining donor, during their 8th anniversary campaign, Ripples & Sparks at Home, April 20–28. Become a Rainmaker today by choosing the “recurring donor” option on the donation page!

—Cynthia “Mama” Green, The Publisher’s Mama & Rainmaker 

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.


My mother is Maria Cruz, my grandmother is Eloisa Saavedra, and my great-grandmother is Isidora Saavedra. They are matriarchs of the Otomi people, an Indigenous group in Michoacán/Guanajuato, Mexico. I was the first member of my family to be born in the U.S., and I was raised in Anaheim, California. I currently live ​on occupied Duwamish Territory (Seattle, Washington). I am a queer Indigneous printmaker, a doctoral student, and the dean for Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at South Seattle College. I am also currently a Nia Tero Pacific Northwest Art Fellow. 

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Seedcast: You Don’t Leave Anything Behind

by Michael Painter

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.

Content Warning: This piece includes references to the experience of attending Indigenous boarding schools in the United States and the aftermath of catastrophic weather events.


When I introduce myself, I start with the most important: I’m a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. I grew up in Indian Territory, often referred to as Oklahoma. I currently live on the traditional homelands of the Duwamish peoples, now known as West Seattle. Then, if there’s time, I share a little about my job and life experience. I’m a lawyer, a family physician, a father and grandfather, and I’m managing director, Programs at Nia Tero based in Coast Salish Territory.

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New Children’s Book Speaks Truth Through an Indigenous Lens

by Rae Rose


Christopher the Ogre Cologre, It’s Over!, by Dr. Oriel María Siu with illustrations by ​Víctor Zúñiga​, is a children’s book written to challenge historical misconceptions resulting from the way history is currently taught: with bias, from a colonizer’s point of view. By contrast, Dr. Siu’s new book speaks from the heart of Indigenous endurance, highlighting the strength of spirit we pass with love from one generation to the next.

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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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