For over a decade, journalist Stacey Thunder (Red Lake and Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe) has been the host of the PBS news magazine Native Report—and today, she has launched her own online series, Indigenous With Stacey Thunder. The show aims to "educate and entertain viewers, empower Indigenous peoples, and bridge culture gaps," and the premiere episode (below) takes on an issue that touches all these concepts, just in time for the Super Bowl: the controversy over the name and mascot of the NFL's Washington Redskins. Enjoy this first installment in what promises to be a vital series on Native topics, and read on for some personal insight from Thunder herself. Episodes are posted to Stacey Thunder's YouTube Channel.
As the show was just about to launch, Thunder took a few moments to discuss her goals and plans with ICTMN.
What is Indigenous with Stacey Thunder and what do you hope to accomplish with it?
Indigenous with Stacey Thunder is an online entertainment and educational video series that shares contemporary stories about Indigenous peoples, events, and issues in a positive and high-energy way. The goal is to show the world who Indigenous peoples really are; that we are still here and are many different nations and individuals who do great and interesting things—not the stereotyped representations that have been formed and shaped over the years. I’m hoping that the series will shift negative perceptions to positive and accurate ones, and inspire viewers to be a part of that movement of change.
In the show's opening sequence, we see some of our favorite people—Billy Mills, Gyasi Ross, Tatanka Means, Kimberly Norris Guerrero, Simon Moya-Smith and more—how many episodes have you finished, and what or whom are they about?
We've shot about six episodes so far, and we plan to cover more stories in Minnesota and Oklahoma. I’m also hoping to cover stories in California, New York, and Washington DC depending on schedules.
The first episode covers the Washington football team name and mascot issue and protest that occurred in Minneapolis before the game against the Vikings last November, which is being released in time for Super Bowl weekend. We decided to kick off the series with this important topic and event to help generate awareness and discussion before the end of the football season, although the issue isn’t just isolated to football.
The other episodes were shot at Nike World Headquarters at the N7 Sport Summit where I interviewed Olympic gold medalist Billy Mills, singer-songwriter Crystal Shawanda, professional pole vaulter Merritt Van Meter, and Sam McCracken of Nike N7, to name a few.
Olympic gold medalist Billy Mills speaks with Stacey Thunder for 'Indigenous with Stacey Thunder' as Johnny Guerrero holds the boom and Heather Rae mans the camera. Photo courtesy Stacey Thunder.
You're an experienced television journalist—what are the differences with an online series? Are there advantages?
I decided to release this series on YouTube for a couple of reasons. The first reason is that YouTube is popular and accessible to a broader audience world-wide. It’s also a medium that appeals to our younger generation, who are the next generation of storytellers. I hope the stories will inspire them, and motivate them to share what they’ve learned from watching the series. And there is also more flexibility in terms of when an episode is released. Compared to television where there are set schedules, we have the ability to release each episode at our own pace, which is great. For now, viewers can expect to see a new episode once or twice a month, and we will always keep everyone posted and ready for the next.
To stay posted on upcoming episodes, follow Stacey Thunder on Facebook or @staceythunder on Twitter.