One of the greatest challenges facing Native Americans today is the lack of positive, authentic representation in mainstream media, culture, and consciousness. For many non-Native people, Native Americans are either a historical idea, stuck firmly in the past, or they are a marginalized group in the present who live on reservations and face unusually high rates of poverty, alcoholism, addiction, and unemployment.
While these modern day challenges exist, they are not the full story. It's time to start telling the true story of Native Americans living today, and that story is one of resilience, diversity, and success in every arena of public life.
We are thrilled to announce a new initiative that we hope will raise awareness of all the ways today's Native Americans are thriving and inspiring the next generation of Native youth: the Native Hope video podcast.
Keep reading to learn more about our first guest and about the goals for this new storytelling platform.
A Platform for Indigenous Storytelling
The Native Hope podcast was developed to be a larger platform for authentic contemporary Native stories told by Indigenous people themselves.
Our guests are all Native. They are entrepreneurs, astronauts, health and wellness trail blazers, politicians, professional athletes, scientists, or people who are breaking down barriers in Indian Country as their life's work.
Our hope is that we can break down barriers and stereotypes through open and honest discussion between our guests and hosts. Every podcast episode is a glimpse of the adversities, tragedies, and victories that led our guests to the healthy, successful, and positive lives they are living now.
We believe that adversity is part of every human life. No one has lived a perfect life nor an easy life, everyone has struggles, at some point in our lives, we've all felt overwhelmed and unappreciated and at times, alone. The Native Hope podcast embraces all of that difficulty and shows how people have worked to overcome their challenges.
Both Native Hope and our guests believe that Native lives and Native issues matter. Our biggest hope is that we are connecting with our Native and non-Native listeners and that our similarities are greater than our differences.
A Platform for Inspiration and Healing
When you listen and watch the Native Hope video podcast, we hope you get a sense of the guest's story, the whole arc of their own personal journey, the obstacles, the difficulties, the challenges, the adversities.
We want listeners, both Native and non-Native to feel like they are not alone, that they are connected. The more you feel connected to our guests and their experiences, the more you can relate to their obstacles, the more you know that you can conquer those obstacles in your own life.
For our young listeners, we want these podcasts to be a source of infinite inspiration to dream big and to know that your dreams are attainable and possible. As you listen and learn from these Native guests who are walking their life journeys and redefining what it means to be Native American today, think about your dreams and goals and the obstacles you may be facing. The world needs your passion and your presence!
Our podcast is about good people talking about good work that's happening in Indian country and in their own lives, all in the name of healing through storytelling.
Meet two of our Native Hope Podcast from Season 1
In this Native Hope podcast episode, we speak with Yvonne “Tiny” Decory, a strong Lakota woman from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. She has made it her life mission to aid in combating the issue of Indigenous suicide. As a member of the BEAR [Be Excited About Reading Program], she works to encourage the “celebration of life” through literacy, performance art, community outreach and counsel. She shares with us her unique approach to counseling, steering away from common forms of shaming the individual in need; she expresses listening and empowering people to live is more effective than stating that they have no reason to be distressed. It is important for us to listen to the stories of others, though they may be painful and covered in layers of hurt. Through expression and the use of personal voice, life can be fully embraced and our trials overcome. One can survive as long as they refrain from being silent. Take the initiative to listen with heart and speak from the heart.
Viki Eagle, a member of the Sicangu Lakota Nation, is a photographic documentarian and the Director of Native American Community Partnerships at the University of Denver. By day, she works to aid and mentor incoming indigenous students in their pursuit of an undergraduate degree. However, during her off-time, she is devoted to her long-term project, Real Life Indian, where her focus is to showcase the true accounts of modern indigenous life. Inspired by her personal love for metal music and culture, she describes having felt alone in her gravitation to this genre, having grown up in an urban atmosphere. It was not long until she found other indigenous people like herself, primarily on the Navajo Nation, living their lives within the metal lifestyle, producing their own music, making it their own entirely. Drawing the connections to metal and the oral tradition, she sees Natives in metal as an example of “self-determination and an act of sovereignty.” The subjects she photographs are primarily self-taught musicians, and she is drawn to their willingness to create, defying the “obstacles and challenges on the reservation.”
Meet two of our Native Hope Podcast guests from Season 2
In this episode of the Native Hope Podcast, we are joined by Joseph Marshall III, who is a Lakota historian, teacher, writer, actor, and storyteller. Raised on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, Joseph spent his youth listening to the captivating stories of his grandparents. As he matured, he realized that there seemed to be fewer and fewer storytellers in the world. This instilled in him a drive to become a writer to preserve and perpetuate the Lakota perspective. As Joseph discusses his journey, he offers bits of grandfatherly advice to those seeking to make a difference in their communities. He talks about the advantage of fiction writing. He also speaks on the necessity to write about the Indigenous perspective in an ever-modernizing world. Joseph delves deep into his creative process, as well as the obstacles we must overcome. He describes the importance of storytelling, and how it unites us. Joseph ends his podcast with his future endeavors, as well as an inspiring message for aspiring writers.
It's never too late to start learning the untold story of Native Americans today. The Native Hope podcast explores the modern realities of successful Native Americans from all walks of life.