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.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on Erev Rosh Hashana. For all the non-Jews reading this, that is the evening of the first night of the Jewish New Year, a kick-off holiday to a time of great reflection that ends with another important holiday, Yom Kippur. When I heard that Ruth had passed away, I felt many things, as did the rest of the nation. I felt sad, I felt grief that it happened before the election (although I am not sure that would have mattered, I am sad to admit). But mostly, I felt a sincere hope that she passed peacefully coupled with an anxiety that perhaps she did not. This latter emotion was the most pronounced — to have an elder in my community potentially not die peacefully because we were hanging all our progressive hopes and dreams on her surviving, despite her multiple struggles with various cancers during the era of Trump, well … that’s not good.
I’ve only ever taken one economics course, back in undergrad. I got a D. After 15 years, I found myself ruminating on that class, and an argument I had with the economics professor who taught it, while distress-drinking on a recent Friday.