The first time John Pepion (Piikani) appeared on NextGen Native, I titled the accompanying blog post “Up and Coming Ledger Artist.” About 1.5 years later John returned to catch up, and from our conversation, the title was accurate! John’s on the move, and if you’re not familiar with his work, you should check it out.
We discussed how he has grown as an artist and businessperson recently. He mentioned he started growing even more when he opened himself up to learn and take feedback from others. This mindset can be applied to any job or activity. It can be hard to open yourself up to feedback, but it empowers you in a way that few other things can.
As John opened himself up to feedback, he started engaging more and more with communities. His Instagram page shows tons of photos with him at schools. He also mentioned he spends time with elder groups. And through this service, he gains new insight and perspective on his art that he can use to grow, even while giving back to others. Continue reading →
Our wide-ranging conversation touched on two issues that I am still thinking about several days later. First, we discussed the need to be vulnerable to learn language and/or culture. I think it is a common experience that people our age grew up afraid to admit we didn’t know as much language as others, or we were worried about making mistakes. The alternative is to avoid it and avoid that experience. We need to foster environments that encourage learning and make it easier to be uncomfortable and make mistakes. As a new parent, I am thinking about how to teach my child about who we are, and that requires me learning even more along the way, too. Continue reading →
Mark Trahant joined NextGen Native to discuss a wide-range of issues. When we spoke, the Congress was in the midst of considering the recent healthcare bill. Mark delved into health care policy and in particular Indian health care policy several years ago, and it is now an ongoing part of his journalism. It’s remained relevant for several years.
We also discussed his emerging interests, which he covers on Trahant Reports. This includes a focus on elections, and also the era of disruption in Indian Country. He discussed how he likes to focus on the countless stories that are not the headline grabbers, but are important and impactful. Mark is somewhat a technophile, and we discussed the rise of social media for events like Standing Rock to organize Indian Country.Continue reading →
“Because of that one choice, so many other possibilities came up. They were already there…” Warren Montoya of Rezonate Art and Rezilience on finding new perspectives.
Warren Montoya, creator of Rezilience
Warren Montoya is the founder of Rezonate Art. He appeared previously on NextGen Native to discuss the company’s beginnings and goals. He returned to discuss what he’s been up to recently.
Warren pivoted his work with Rezonate after realizing he wanted to change the way his business worked. He described in this conversation (and our previous conversation) that part of his goal with the company was to build a sustainable business that could eventually support other artists. Warren realized that he could change his business model so that he did the support and education directly, rather than use his profits through selling merchandise. Continue reading →
“If you want to do great things, then you should concentrate not on what you want tobebut on what you want todo. You don’t have tobeanything specific thing to impact issues you care about…[assess] those things you want to impact, and then go do it.”-Keith Harper
“Look for those opportunities that may not be obvious to you.”-Gabe Galanda
Gabe Galanda is part of the growing fight against disenrollment.
Gabe Galanda is a member of the Round Valley Indian Tribes. Galanda is also a partner at the law firm Galanda Broadman. He joined NextGen Native previously to share his personal journey. If you haven’t heard his story, I recommend listening to his personal journey. It’s a perfect example of how one can overcome challenges to succeed in your own personal way, at a high level. His personal journey is prologue to his work for clients facing disenrollment.
Through his law practice, Galanda emerged as one of the most vocal critics of disenrollment. For several years, he has represented clients fighting disenrollment. During that time he experienced many trying moments and challenges in his fight for his clients. At the time, not many people in Indian Country were openly discussing disenrollment, let alone fighting against the movement. But the tide may be turning. We spoke not too long after a #stopdisenrollment day of action and also following the decision by the tribal council for the Robinson Rancheria of Pomo Indians to re-enroll members that were previously disenrolled. Now, you’re seeing people speaking out against disenrollment, and taking action against it, in larger numbers. Much of that can be attributed to the work of Galanda and others who took on the fight several years ago. Continue reading →
“If I am going to bet on anybody, I’m going to bet on myself.”-Jaclyn Roessel of Grownup Navajo
Jaclyn Roessel returned to the show to discuss some big changes in her life. For the last decade or so, Jaclyn did amazing things at the Heard Museum, which she described as her dream job. So I was amazed to see a headline that she was leaving the museum. It was time to grow up, or rather time to Grownup Navajo.
Jaclyn Roessel shared with me (and You!) how she arrived at the decision to leave her dream job, and what she plans to do with Grownup Navajo. Her transition isn’t just about leaving her work to pursue her own projects, she also moved from Phoenix to New Mexico. Most people would be slow to make one of those decisions, the fact that Jaclyn dove into both changes at once is a bold step. It also shows that it is possible.If you feel like you are on the verge of doing something different, take a listen and draw upon the inspiration that Jaclyn shares throughout the episode! Continue reading →
“I’m eternally hopeful. Seeing [bad] things around me made me think that things can be better and should be better.”-Jessica Begay
Jessica Begay’s Refreshing Energy
Jessica Begay (Navajo)
I speak with people across Indian Country that share their stories and do amazing, interesting things on a daily basis. Their energy is fiery, resistant, forward thinking or any combination of those emotions. Jessica Begay (Navajo), has an awesome story. But her energy was different from some of the other people I speak to, but it’s end goal is the same. And it is refreshing. And we need more of it in Indian Country.
Jessica is a social worker at a tribal pre-school in Phoenix. During college, she realized that her interest and energy aligned with that of social workers. Her hopeful energy is not bound in the usual “we will endure” message, which is needed and powerful. It is based upon the knowledge that we can make our communities a better place. And from Jessica’s work, it is done through creating healthier social environments.
“We have to show up and we have to apply for things outside [Indian Country]. There is no one better than us to than to represent at the national level.” -Chelsea Wilson
Chelsea Wilson on Mentors and Pushy Friends
Chelsea Wilson (Cherokee Nation) works at All Native Group, a division of Ho-Chunk Inc. She is active in the DC chapter of the New Leaders Council a member of the executive committee and is a previous fellow with the organization. If a full-time job and a one organization was not enough, Chelsea Wilson also chairs the Frontrunners Committee of the organization She Should Run.
Chelsea Wilson, Citizen of the Cherokee Nation
Chelsea Wilson describes herself as a giver, and if you cannot tell, she puts that into practice through the work she does personally and professionally. That character trait pays dividends back to Chelsea through the mentorships she’s developed over the years. And each mentorship helped Chelsea develop and find new ways to give back. It’s a classic story about how hard work, mentorship, and networks come together to provide opportunities to grow personally and professionally.
Chelsea worked for the Cherokee Nation where her boss mentored her and gave her projects to stretch her development. Eventually that led her to DC. I knew Chelsea’s boss at Cherokee Nation and she mentioned to me Chelsea’s interest in moving to DC. When I ran into her at a reception, that a “pushy friend” forced her to attend, I mentioned that I was looking to hire someone for my team.
After living in DC, Chelsea found her path through NLC and She Should Run. It’s refreshing to have someone that can articulate that their interest to serve in public office comes from a genuine place of giving. Many people say it, and for many people it’s true. But with Chelsea, you can feel her desire to serve.
In this conversation we discuss finding finding mentors the right way, growing professionally, and being willing to fail by trying. Chelsea Wilson combined each of these into her current work and others are starting to take notice.
“I think it’s time we recognize there’s a change in our world and we need to make room for new voices in the great debate.”
Jim Gray is the former Principal Chief of the Osage Nation. Jim returned to NextGen Native for a conversation that I wanted to have since the day I started the podcast. Jim inspired the conversation with a “simple” Facebook post. When I read the post, I knew we had to connect again to dive into it.
So what was the post? It was only 25 words. “I think it’s time we recognize there’s a change in our world and we need to make room for new voices in the great debate.”
When I read that, Jim took me back to why I started the podcast initially: how do young people grow into leaders, gain experience, and share that experience. It’s not a simple question, and I struggled with ways to discuss it without sounding like a Young Turk.Continue reading →