Hello 2023 // Goodbye 2022

Omaka Teca Oiyokipi, Mitakuyapi! / Happy New Year, my relatives!

It has been one whole minute since my last offering and I’m grateful to you all for sticking with me through this wild ride! When I started my Substack, it was mostly as a place to publish some ideas that had fully formed, baked, and were decorated. As I’ve learned, that takes more time than I actually have in a given day. But that does not mean I am deterred.

Writing is what I have come to love to do as an adult in the world. It’s a choice I made in my teens to be a journalist and while I’ve gained a lot of expertise in media of storytelling, writing is where I feel most at home. But in 2023, I have resolved to write more often. “In Media Rez” is a play on the phrase, “In media res,” or “in the middle of things,” and is a narrative structure I fell in love with in the mid-2000s as a student who was trained to think in a linear fashion.

But, as I’ve learned in these 40 years, so much of what we do and consume is perpetually unfinished in the mind of the creator and we dive in where we can to find some sense of belonging. So I thank you again for being patient as I find where I belong.

2022 was a formative year in Indian Country and here are some important things that stood out to me:


In Media Representation

“Reservation Dogs” finished its second season and gave us many iconic moments that made us laugh, made us hold our breath, and made us cry. Its creator Sterlin Harjo was also out front on the national stage last year, discussing how the show came to be and what it means to Indigenous people throughout the country and across Turtle Island. It’s also launched the musical career of Oglala Lakota recording artist Mato Wayuhi.

The cancellation of “Rutherford Falls”  was a hard one to take this year, mostly because series was co-created by Diné screenwriter and filmmaker Sierra Teller Ornelas and starred Lakota actor and writer Jana Schmieding. What makes me grateful personally is that “Rutherford Falls” was released four months before Reservation Dogs and proved early on that Indigenous women-led comedy could sustain itself independently.

The wild success of “Prey” and, once again, an Indigenous woman led role played by Amber Midthunder marked a turning point in how Indigenous people are portrayed in media.

Too often, we are seen as someone’s problem to be solved. That narrative is so pervasive that any time I—or, indeed, any one of my relatives, friends, or colleagues—talk about where we’re from, there inevitably follows a deep sigh, or a rush to comfort or congratulate us for not living on the reservation anymore. Soon follows a discussion about poverty, addiction, and just what can be done?

The answer I have started giving and is illustrated in all of these representations is simply: we have all we need to solve our own “problems” and, in fact, our biggest problem is that our sovereignty continues to be eroded by paternalistic views that we are unable to govern ourselves. The solutions are simple: honor the treaties. Most folks are stunned to learn that the United States and its colonies continue to violate any number of treaty obligations and that when we, as tribal nations, undergo a crisis, it is most commonly rooted in being historically marginalized and purposefully under-resourced by governmental agencies that are legally obliged to honor their promises

The War at Home

Over the last four weeks, South Dakota has endured wave after wave of winter storms brought on by the long-term effects of climate change.

It became so bad that relatives back home had to wait for days to dig out, find supplies and in some locations, for power to be restored. The cost in the Rosebud Sioux Tribe was six lives. While the official record from the office of the governor is that Kristi Noem was ‘on the case,’ the word from home is that it took every tribal official cajoling her office and essentially threatening legal action if she didn’t commit to the bare minimum in mobilizing the South Dakota National Guard to provide road-clearing services.

This all harkens back to this summer when a friend in Sioux Falls was left to find creative ways around fallen tree limbs in the city and after the summer derechos when Mayor Tenhaken essentially said that emergency services did not apply to such situations.

Effectively, these basic breakdowns in government—by Republican design—are still in play in the quiet effort to continue the culling of Indigenous and marginalized groups in states like South Dakota. One wonders what, short of a law license, the U.S. Department of Justice, or a creative application of any “Yellowstone” episode storyline, one can one do?

What Can We Do?

For now, we can offer our financial support to the family of one 12 year-old Sicangu child who died as a result of being unable to access emergency services.

“Honor was a 6th grader at Sapa Un Catholic Academy in St. Francis, SD. Honor was an outgoing and very friendly young man. He loved spending time with his family and playing sports with his many friends. He was looking forward to playing on the Sapa Un basketball team after the holidays. He and his friends enjoyed playing their online games also. Honor’s passing is such a shock and tragedy for our family and friends. Honor has five siblings who miss him dearly.”

DONATE HERE: https://www.gofundme.com/f/pfmvsq-12-yr-old-died-tragically-in-sd-blizzard


What I’m Up To

I’ve started working for a group called Tending The Soil as the Development Director and it is filling my cup with the rewards of seeing determined advocates for working class Black, Latiné and People of Color in Minneapolis.

“Tending the Soil is a coalition of Minnesota organizations led by people of color that organize in working class communities of color. We are the ones who tend the soil to remove the toxins of white supremacy, patriarchy, and capitalism and nourish our communities to grow justice, self-actualization, autonomy, and collective communities. We exist to lift up the voices of society’s most marginalized members, and we stand in deep solidarity with one another.”

Partnerships

When I’m not off the clock, I’m still working in my consultancy and one of my clients has given me so many opportunities to clarify my professional direction in guided facilitation and intercultural development and care. Two of the partners I’ve worked with definitely deserve a highlight here:

Heather Keeler | Two Feathers Consulting LLC

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Consulting for Education, Health Care, and Other Professional Settings: Representation matters.

I grew up in spaces where no one looked like me–from teachers in my classrooms to my school administrators to the people I encountered in health care settings. My passion in life is to make sure no one feels as excluded as I have.

Donavan Begay Poster | INfidelity

“A New Voice In Minnesota”

Tune in to INfidelity where Donavan, a Diné Transwoman shares her stories and lifts Transgender voices that are unheard and face erasure.

On The Radio

Finally, for anyone who knows me well, I’ve had a love of radio for as long as I can remember. Whether it was KINI back home, KILI in Pine Ridge, NPR’s All Things Considered at the end of the work day when we would drive home from Rosebud to Upper Cut Meat, radio has been a medium that captures my imagination.

That being said, in 2020, I joined the Fresh Fruit Collective on KFAI here in Minneapolis and began hosting the fourth Thursday shows (7 p.m., Central) after challenging myself to try something new. While I’m still on the air on the fourth Thursdays, all my work earned me a spot as the Friday host of AM Drive: Grand Entry on KFAI.

I designed Grand Entry as the show at the intersections of Indigenous and Queer identity on the radio. It’s a music show that features artists who are primarily Indigenous, Queer (and both) as well as other people of color. I also do my best to include news, guests and perspectives from those communities as often as I can, but I’m always open to guests who I might not know about!

If you have a relative or friend who’s creating or getting things done in the Queer or Indigenous community, send me an email at grandentrykfai@gmail.com!

2023 Resolutions

There’s so much more for me to write, but I’ve spent most of my end-of-year vacation preparing myself to actively pursue my creative endeavors. But so far, I have resolved the following:

  • Complete my first manuscript by June
  • Bead more (one item a month)
  • Read more (one book a month)
  • Use my state parks pass more
  • Listen to what my body is telling me
  • Keep better care of my body
  • Create more routines in my daily life
  • Spend intentional, quality time with friends (not just quantity time)
  • Finish my will (just in case, nothing is wrong)
  • Reconnect with my Sicangu relatives here in Minneapolis

I hope that what endeavors you choose this year will be rewarding and fill your spirit and not deplete it. I’m excited to share more of my work here in the next 12 months!

Talk more soon!

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