Tackling an artistic Indigenous fellowship virtually

James Pakootas and Talon ShootsTheEnemy tell us how First Peoples Fund helped to facilitate their collaboration. And deputy managing editor Jourdan Bennett-Begaye has more about President Joe Biden's actions with respect to tribal sovereignty.
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It's now been a year since the coronavirus was deemed serious enough for China to go into lockdown, still reeling from the pandemic, we've changed the way we live and work. That's especially true for performing artists. Today, we meet two multimedia artists who found ways to collaborate across the miles. James Pakootas is an award-winning producer and hip hop artists, motivational speaker and mentor who cultivates change in the world through the power of words. He's a citizen of the Colville Confederated tribes and lives in Washington state. Talon Bazille Ducheneaux-ShootsTheEnemy is enrolled in the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe in South Dakota. As a rap artist and poet of the Lakota nation, his work has gone from rez to city to rez, reflecting his own mix of experience and views of the world through music.

Strengthening tribal relationships and upholding tribal sovereignty is a priority of President Joe Biden. He's been busy since taking office last week. One person following the president's actions is Jourdan Bennett-Begaye, she's our deputy managing editor and is based in Washington, D.C. Her recent story, Joe Biden: ‘Tribal sovereignty will be a cornerstone’ is here on our website. Jourdan joins the newscast today to talk more about the administration's actions in the first week.

A slice of our Indigenous world

  • President Joe Biden signed several climate-related executive orders on his first day in office, including some that affect residents of the Bering sea.
  • The American Library Association is announcing the picture book ‘We Are Water Protectors’ is a winner of the Caldecott Medal. 
  • One Blood Tribe member in southwestern Alberta Canada is trying to make a difference in his community by using aquaponics.
  • The Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa is supplying its own brand of hand sanitizer for their citizens.
  • The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community located near Scottsdale Arizona is asking Major League Baseball to delay the start of the season due to the coronavirus.
  • NBCUniversal News Group launched a new journalism training program called NBCU Academy.

You can find more details on all these stories at the top of today's newscast.

Some quotes from today's show

James Pakootas:

"A lot of Google drive, a lot of passing back and forth whether they're files of instrumentals or vocal, the internet is a beautiful way to be able to collaborate with people no matter where they're at. And we do through Zoom as well. So even if we're creating video content, we create conversations around the content we're creating. Whether it's producing for film or making new projects, we're always in conversation."

"And we're recording the Zoom calls, and then editing them in post-production and then making them more digestible for people to hear. So really a lot of our work comes through Google drive, being able to pass files back and forth, and then just on Zoom, like right in real time, being able to share with each other, our feelings about the track or directions of how we want to forward."

Talon ShootsTheEnemy:

"Oh yeah both James and I, we're one of the selected fellows. Mine was a cultural capital fellowship. I believe James was a business leader and business leadership. And, what First People are doing is before the coronavirus we would get together as artists. A lot of this, we can't separate these things from ancestry and tradition. We're very about breaking down the whole modern versus tradition, dichotomy and duality".

"As soon as me and James really got into each other's space, we quickly kind of noticed each other's work ethic and artistic sides. Eventually we went through with Gunner Jules and Tony Louie, and creating a song during that convening and really from then on me and James have just been in constant contact, collaborating, working with one another. And that was definitely from that point on, in 2019, how a lot of our projects today got started that we're still working on releasing and even planning for the future”.

Jourdan Bennett-Begaye:

"A lot's been happening with this Biden Administration in the last week. As we know on his first day on the job he revoked the permit for the Keystone pipeline. He put a temporary moratorium area on the drilling in the Arctic wildlife national refuge. Also, I remember things yesterday. He signed executive orders that were part of his Racial Equity Plan. One of those orders was respect for tribal sovereignty."

(Read more: Joe Biden: ‘Tribal sovereignty will be a cornerstone’)

"This executive order was actually a presidential memorandum and it requires all federal agencies and executive departments to have a strong process in place for tribal consultation. I spoke with Libby Washburn, she is Chickasaw and the newly appointed special assistant to the president for Native American affairs for the White House domestic policy council".

Mark Trahant, Shoshone-Bannock, is editor of Indian Country Today. On Twitter: @TrahantReports Trahant is based in Phoenix.

Jourdan Bennett-Begaye, Diné, is the deputy managing editor for Indian Country Today based in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter: @jourdanbb or email her at . Bennett-Begaye’s Grey’s Anatomy obsession started while attending the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.

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