“People like genuine people. People like people who are authentic, people lke people who show up with their true identity. And being Chickasaw is part of who I am.”-Heath Clayton
One of the areas in which I love to dabble is what I call “life system hacking.” The basic idea is finding ways to create a life, circumvent expectations or bypass the norms of which we all are led to believe cannot be bypassed or circumvented. There are a lot of people who write about the subject online, and it can get a bit of a reputation as self-help like content. But I continue to expose myself to it because I think there are gems that can be found, if you know what you are looking for. I was excited to interview someone I think hacked the system quite successfully. That person is Heath Clayton (Chicksaw).
Heath earned a Bachelor’s degree for about $3,000 without stepping foot onto a university campus. After “college” he worked in the White House at age 21. Not after 21 years of working in politics. At 21 years old.Continue reading →
“There is a trap [in decolonization] that hinders a lot of potential growth. And that is centered in how we think about things. If you are only trained [to deconstruct] then you are stuck in a gear of deconstruction, which is important and useful. But if the goal is to increase capacity in Indian Country, then you are asking for builders, not destroyers, and that is a completely different type of thinking.” Ryan Red Corn
Ryan Red Corn
Ryan Red Corn
Ryan Red Corn (Osage) created the design firm Buffalo Nickel Creative and is also a member of the 1491s. He joined NextGen Native for a wide-ranging conversation.
Although we touched on comedy and had some light hearted moments, our conversation covered much more beyond comedy. We talked about the role his work and the work of others in graphic design and branding can play a role in Indian Country telling its stories better. We discussed how being creative and artistic is closely related to being an entrepreneur. Ryan shared how he uses different media to tell stories and how each is suited to have a certain impact. I dug into Ryan’s intentionality and how he uses it to manage his time and drive his art.
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 →
“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
“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.
Since this was the first episode I recorded in 2017, I asked Jackson about whether he makes any resolutions. He doesn’t, but he did share one of his goals for the year. Through his work, he wants to acquire property to open an embassy for the Navajo Nation in Washington, DC. We talked about where the idea came from, building upon others’ ideas, and finding projects that are both big picture and the next step in a process.
The conversation made me think about work done in Indian Country generally. I think much of what we do as young professionals focuses on building upon the work of those that came before us. It isn’t different, or better, or “new” necessarily, but we may be able to take on projects and initiatives nowbecauseof the work that others did before us. Conversely, people that are bringing new ideas, or trying to take on a goal that’s failed before doesn’t mean they think they are better than those that came before them, it’s simply that their experience is different, the resources available may different, or any variety of reasons.
We also talk about what we’ve been reading recently. For Jackson, it’s Andrew Carnegie’s autobiography, for me I highlighted an article aboutpalliative careand how it’s making me think not about the end of life, but about living life to the fullest.
I had fun catching up with a friend I’ve known for 10 years now. We discussed a bit about moving through different stages in life. The last 18 months I’ve had a lot of new things in my life, all good, too! But it’s definitely made me think about where I am currently, and it’s hard to imagine knowing people that I metaftercollege for a decade already. Anyway, these are the kind of conversations Jackson and I have when we get together, hopefully you enjoy it!
Also, hit us up if you have good fiction for us to read…
Reno Franklin on Forgiveness: “The most important thing is to be open minded to allow forgiveness…some of the horrible things that were done to us, we know our story. We know the horrible things. We don’t let that define who we are. Those horrible things that were done to Kashia are not who Kashia are. We’ll never forget it. We’ll always remember it. We’ll honor those that was done to, but we won’t let that define us. And we will be open to forgiveness….I would challenge everyone to find it.”
Reno Franklin is Chairman of the Kashia Band of Pomo Indians. This episode is a bit different because I usually do not have tribal leaders on the show. This is not for negative reasons, but instead I want to highlight the work of others not in leadership positions to show how much amazing work is being done in Indian Country.
It’s also different because while we discuss Reno’s life, we also discuss his work as a tribal leader, projects he’s working on, approaches to being a leader. It’s definitely a fun conversation, and that’s before we even get to his story.Continue reading →
Charles Galbraith: “We’ve been conditioned to think that we have to compete with each other…which is not the case.”
Charles Galbraith is Navajo. Currently, Charles (aka Charlie) is Counsel atKilpatrick TownsendLaw Firm. Previously, Charlie spent several years working at the White House for President Obama and before that he was an Assistant U.S. Attorney and a staffer in theU.S. Senate.
Charlie grew up in Phoenix. His parents both prioritized education and so Charlie knew at a young age he’d go to college. He ended up playing baseball and studying at theUniversity of Chicago.
Charles Galbraith, Navajo
His baseball playing taught him endurance and the knowledge that not everything would break his way in life. It taught him how to dig in for the long haul, and how to keep a cooler head when things weren’t going his way. These two lessons would suit him very well in his career.
Kekoa McLellan: “We can never forget that we are native first, but we cannot ignore that we are not the only people who matter.. We have to look at the people around us. If we separate ourselves from them, we are separating ourselves from their hearts.”
Kekoa McClellan Official Bio
Kekoa McClellan is the President and CEO of Pelatron Power Evolution and the President of the firm’s Joint Venture PQ Energy, LLC. McClellan leads the development of waste-to-energy systems in the State of Hawaiʻi.
As part of the Pelatron Center for Economic Development family of companies, Kekoa directs the group’s external finance and government relations activities. Prior to his work with Pelatron Power Evolution, Kekoa was the Chief of Staff to Honolulu City Council member Stanley Chang, managed an independent political consulting firm, and worked as a commercial banking officer at Central Pacific Bank.
NextGen Native is, among other things, a place to learn about other Native people and where they are from. Though a Hawaiian may be different culturally from someone from Coeur d’Alene or a Pueblo, there are some commonalities about how we interact with the world. And there is definitely similarities with how we’ve interacted with the United States.
Kekoa McClellan shares his wealth of knowledge about business and about his work to give back to his Hawaiian community. He does this in a variety of ways, but particularly through his day jobs at Pelatron Power, owned by the Pelatron Center for Economic Development. If you are not familiar with Native Hawaiian Organizations, this is a great episode to put your learning cap on.