When Taffy Johnson moved to Seattle from San Francisco in 2006, she felt alone and isolated. As a Queer Trans Pacific Islander (QTPI), there were no community organizations or gathering spaces where she could share experiences and access support with other LGBTQ Pacific Islanders. In San Francisco, Johnson had been part of a flagship organization called United Territories of Pacific Islanders Alliance (UTOPIA). The space had given her a glimpse of the building blocks needed to create something similar elsewhere.
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.