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Native artist culturing digitally

On the show Monday is Marlena Myles, a self-taught Spirit Lake Dakota, Mohegan and Muscogee. Her art brings modernity to Indigenous history, languages and oral traditions. Mary Annette Pember is a national correspondent here at Indian Country Today.She joins us to talk about one of her recent stories on the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline.
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Dynamics of Russian Colonialism in Alaska, the first solo exhibition of work by Marlena Myles, focuses on the intersection of immigrant and Native peoples in North America. You can see it at the Museum of Russian Art in Minneapolis, Minnesota until March 14.

Myles is a self-taught Spirit Lake Dakota, Mohegan and Muscogee.  Her art brings modernity to Indigenous history, languages and oral traditions. Growing up on her traditional Dakota homelands in the Twin Cities, she enjoys using her artwork to teach Minnesotans of all backgrounds the Indigenous history of this place we call home.

She’s done children’s books, fabrics, animations and fine art. 

Mary Annette Pember is a national correspondent at Indian Country Today. She joins us to talk about one of her recent stories on the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline. 

A slice of our Indigenous world  

  • There was a lot of news last week, the confirmation hearings for Rep. Deb Haaland, and lots of vaccine distribution in Indigenous communities.

  • Nearly a year after Congress passed a coronavirus relief bill, some tribal governments remain in legal limbo over what's been distributed.

  • Emotions ran high last week as a Montana House committee heard a bill that would make it easier for Native Americans to vote. 

  • Meanwhile, Congress begins debate this week on sweeping voting and ethics legislation. Democrats and Republicans can agree on one thing: If signed into law, it would usher in the biggest overhaul of U.S. elections law in at least a generation.

  • And in Arizona there is a sure sign of spring -- and a sense of optimism.

Some quotes from Monday's show

Courtesy of Marlena Myles

Courtesy of Marlena Myles

Marlena Myles

"I worked with the Russian Art Museum growing up, I loved Russian history of Russian literature music. And, like, I never thought as a Native American that I could be in a museum, but they had wanted to widen their base of who they're reaching because their museum is located in a Native sort of neighborhood of Minneapolis. So they reached out to me and I did a, about a year's worth of research on the interactions between the Russians and Alaska Natives, and the work I created. I don't try to put myself into the story of the Russians or Native Alaskans. I just try to open people's minds to what went on and how people today are still affected by that history.”

"I grew up in Minneapolis, in the urban environment. So, I think Native people have always been innovative whenever we get a new piece of technology, we find a way to tell our culture, our history through it. And so as a kid, my mom bought us a computer so that we would stay out of trouble. And I really got into coding and making my own art onto it as a teenager back before everybody had this kind of technology, I guess it was in 1998, back when people had to dial up the internet. So I was like, they're in the early days of the internet that I was creating, starting my digital art journey.”

Mary Annette Pember 

"I think especially in Indian country, we often see in the mainstream press, that Native folks are depicted as being totally for, or against, as my mother would say, but there's so much more nuance that goes on.They have an agreement with Embridge to allow them to go through the reservation rather than go around. I think they decided that in fact, the route around would actually endanger more waterways, but at any rate, they are a sovereign entity and their leadership did make an agreement with Embridge. And they're very sophisticated people, Fon Du Lac folks, and probably Embridge too. But as far as business dealings and however, they are a sovereign nation, but like others entities and jurisdictions, not all of the citizens agree. So there are quite a number of Fond Du Lac tribal citizens who don't agree with that decision. So we're seeing that all play out.”

"That's what you're seeing, the folks who are opposing the pipeline are saying 'that, yes, we need to start looking at transition.' And of course, the proponents say, 'Well, you can't, we, if we switched it off, we wouldn't be able to drive our cars and everything would come to a stop.' And I don't think that is what the folks that opposed the pipeline are in any way suggesting that one has to start somewhere and investing this enormous amounts of money in continuing to build this infrastructure is a place where, where people might want to make a change. So there would probably be, I think, in their vision that there would be some rough spots in the transition, but it's time to stop spending that much money on continuing these infrastructures, I think is the very stand of the opponents to the pipeline.”

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

Mary Annette Pember, citizen of the Red Cliff Ojibwe tribe, is national correspondent for Indian Country Today. On Twitter: @mapember. Based in Cincinnati, Ohio. Pember loves film, books and jingle dress dancing.

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