It’s not quite summer yet, but road-trip season is in full swing around Native country. Whether you’re driving 17 hours to make it to your cousin’s graduation, hightailing to the next state to see your honey, or cruising cross-country for a pow wow, you’re probably looking for ways to stay entertained in the car. Listening to the same old radio stations can get so old, so fast. To make the time fly and keep you alert, check out this list of all the best Native podcasts and Native American radio stations we could find. So, make sure your teenager didn’t use up your data package, plug in your aux cord, and get ready to be entertained.
Native American Radio
I don’t know about you guys, but I love a good rez radio station. Unfortunately, you can’t find them everywhere, and many do not run on 24-hour cycles. If you are in the area of a local rez radio station, we fully support you tuning in; there’s nothing like it. But if you’re nowhere near KLND or KILI or any other station where you can hear the musings of classic rez DJs, and still want to hear some Native sounds, you might want to tune in to some of these digital stations: all downloadable on the app store.
Indigenous Sounds Radio - This Billings, Montana-based app consolidates music from tribal nations across North America, offering 24/7 indigenous music to keep your ears occupied during long days and nights on the road.
World Native American Radio - This app offers a digital connection to a number of tribally-operated Native American radio stations from various locales around the world, such as KILI Radio 90.1 from Porcupine, South Dakota; Cheyenne & Arapaho Radio; KSUT Southern Ute Tribal Radio; and more. Not all stations operate 24 hours a day.
Pow Wow Radio HD ($2.99) and Pow Wow Radio ($0.99) - Operated by powwows.com, these apps provide a 24/7 mix of Native music popular in the pow wow genre from groups like Midnite Express, Bear Creek, Eyabay and more.
Pow Wow Radio Online - The same resource as the aforementioned apps, available through a mobile or desktop web browser, while you’re chilling in your hotel or your auntie’s living room.
Native America Calling - Known as “your national electronic talking circle,” and considered one of the best and longest-running Native news sources out there, Native America Calling is always fun to listen to, and these days, you have lots of options for accessing their wonderful programming. From environmental issues to entertainment to legal and political discussions, NAC is always discussing something interesting and relevant to all Native communities. You can hear them live, Monday-Friday from 1 pm to 2 pm Eastern (all participating radio stations are listed on their website), or you can hear any of their episodes anytime by finding the Native America Calling station on soundcloud.com or the Soundcloud app. They also have their very own podcast, which brings us to our next list...
Some of you might be avid binge-listeners of podcasts in the same way that you binge-watch Netflix. Some of you may still scratch your head when hear the word. Let me put it this way: Podcasts are like TV shows. Each Podcast is centered around a certain theme, with a cast and characters (or host); and each episode brings something new and exciting to the table. They can be just as addicting as TV shows—maybe even more. It may seem hard to imagine how something with no visuals can be exciting to hear, but trust me, it is. Your imagination runs wild, and you remember why, since time immemorial, Native people used storytelling as their prime source of entertainment. It’s that good.
There are hundreds of entertaining and informational podcasts out there now, which really helps the time fly on the road. Not only do the podcasts themselves keep you interested, but it seems like they always provoke exciting discussion and debate with your co-pilots.
If you’re interested in general content, I’d recommend taking a peek at Time magazine’s 50 Best Podcasts of 2017 list. There are lots of great ones on there. But if you’re interested specifically in Native-oriented content, look no further than the following list.
Breakdances with Wolves - Hosted by Gyasi Ross, Wesley Roach and Minty LongEarth, BWW describes itself as “a few Natives with opinions and a platform.” Ross has long been entertaining readers at ICMN through his column, “Thing about Skins,” so as you might imagine, his podcast is equally as colorful. The show is groundbreaking in its uniqueness. They get deep into the nitty-gritty of some controversial topics like disenrollment, identity, and immigration. While the discussions get heated sometimes, it’s always fun to listen to, and will definitely keep you laughing, thinking, and covering your mouth wide-eyed saying “Oh my god did he just say that?!”
Sterlin Harjo’s “The Cuts” - We already know that Sterlin Harjo is an amazing filmmaker, and you’ve probably seen him in a 1491s video, but you might not have known that he’s a really great interviewer. Harjo’s podcast is full of carefully curated, thoughtful conversations between the host and his guests. You can download episodes, or you can listen on Soundcloud. Each episode will offer insights and stories from influencers and artists whose work you know and love, like Louise Erdrich, Joy Harjo, and Steven Paul Judd—only now you will know them better.
Broken Boxes Podcast - Hosted by artist/DJ/activist Ginger Dunnill, Broken Boxes poses the question: “What makes the human make the art?” In its interview-based episodes, you will find captivating conversations with an array of artists who will flip your worldview on its head. According to their website, “Broken Boxes Podcast is an interview format podcast which centers indigenous artists, activist focused artists, Queer artists, women identifying artists, artists of color and mixed/lost/stolen heritage artists. Through conversation, each featured artist is invited to share insight, story and their process.” You can listen to Broken Boxes on their website, by subscribing on iTunes, or on Soundcloud.