Past and present: technology connects tribes

From our guests today we've got Bernie memes, Indigenous fellowship over the internet, stolen cultural identity, language preservation, and so much more.
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Bernie memes help teach the Menominee language. Sequoyah’s syllabary celebrates 200 years with technology adaptations. Canadian filmmaker discusses cultural identity. Rappers collaborate in a pandemic across the miles. Our guests today include, Ron Corn, Jr., Menominee, and Dawn Knickerbocker, Chippewa. They share their Bernie Sanders memes and what these images mean to Native people. Roy Boney, Cherokee, reflects on the 200th anniversary of Sequoyah’s Cherokee syllabary and its continued use. Jeff Bear and other First Nation filmmakers push for legislation to penalize people who pretend to be Indigenous. James "Just Jamez" Pakootas, Colville, and Talon Bazille ShootsTheEnemy-Ducheneaux, Cheyenne River, use technology to create multimedia art projects—a thousand miles apart.

A slice of our Indigenous world

  • Pascua Yaqui tribal council members are celebrating federal funds which will be used to bring water to the tribe for irrigation.
  • A new course at Los Alamos High School in New Mexico is focusing on Native American cultural studies.
  • The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community acquired 47% of Windward Engineers & Consultants. This is the first time the tribe has co-owned an engineering firm.
  • The University of California at Berkeley is removing the name Alfred Kroeber, a controversial anthropologist on a building because of the man’s negative history with Native Americans.
  • Members of the Auyu tribe of Papua, Indonesia, are demanding a halt to the operations of a palm oil company.

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

Some quotes from today's show

Ron Corn, Jr. on the Menominee Bernie language memes:

The Menominee meme uncle Bernie

The Menominee meme uncle Bernie

“What we were kind of trying to capitalize on was, was the fact that some of the conjugations in our, in our dialect of Algonquin language are a little difficult to grasp. So, we're going through these right now in our class. So for instance, if, if you guys have seen someone I'm trending, you might've seen he sat: Okēs apēw. They sat, we'll put them in a blanket and say Kēs apēwak, I'm sitting Forrest Gump on a bench. So we sort of tried to run the gauntlet of our, of our anime in transitive verb form.”

Dawn Knickerbocker on what Bernie represents:

Uncle Bernie memes

Uncle Bernie memes

“I know for me, it's that he showed up to this really fancy event in a very humble way. And so that spoke to me personally , wearing the same coat that he wears all the time. He had handmade mittens that were given to him by a teacher. And so that was kind of like a lot of people I know do, which is , just kind of show up as you are. And that really resonated. And that's what we see when we are at community gatherings too, is that people come with their humble selves. And if it's not your event, you don't take the fanfare away from who's supposed to be speaking.”

Roy Boney on the 200th anniversary of Sequoyah’s Cherokee syllabary:

Roy Boney

Roy Boney

“For Cherokees, we like to look at this with the long view that when, in the 1820s, when the Cherokees got their printing press, we adapted the syllabary to that. And ever since every time there's been a major form of a running technology like typewriters were processing, fonts or whatever it is, throughout the years, we adapt to it. So we just keep using that new technology and moving on with our language”.

Jeff Bear on First Nations identity:

Jeff Bear

Jeff Bear

“It's an issue that goes back in time. Even our people, Mark, had racially identified themselves as white because they had white phenotypes back in the day when assimilation was the big push and racial inequality was just a thing of the day. , I have ancestors who went into business and falsely claiming, they were French. So, it's a crossover of identity as a crossover of races, but it's different now than it was 125 years ago when we were trying to find equality. Now that we have equality, it seems like it's become a bit of a burden. We're supposed to know where we come from to know where we're going, but it was George Harrison who, who said that if you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there”.

James Pakootis on cultural resilience:

James Pakootis

James Pakootis

“I've lived a very tough life to move through this life--childhood trauma, and then not being able to deal with it or, or, or choosing not to deal with it and and going into alcohol addiction, drug addiction, and criminal activity, and then bouncing back and my community forgiving me for the, for the wrongs that I did to my own community. They've really come to know me for that resilience, so really a lot of them have been very, very supportive along the way and, and inspired, because I'm not afraid to try new things, like start over and find a new beginning. I just take the thought of no matter where I'm at--I feel my ancestors with me, no matter, no matter where I'm at in art or business, like I have, I have resilience for hundreds of years built up in my spirit”.

Talon ShootsTheEnemy on Mark Trahant’s influence:

Talon Bazille ShootsTheEnemy-Ducheneaux

Talon Bazille ShootsTheEnemy-Ducheneaux

“A lot of this, we can't separate these things from ancestry and tradition. We're about breaking down the whole modern versus tradition, dichotomy and duality. And I say that because I mentioned before we got on that, I saw you when I was younger, I specifically remember going up to shake your hand because you showed me at a young age, just like many of our ancestors, that there can be a sophistication and a real intelligence to radicalism and radical art in the way that we present things and do it with love. And you showed me that with our music, it's with passion and spirit and tradition, but with a sophistication and a way of doing it, that says it's more than just a feeling it's more than that. It extends to so many different things, be it, our voices song, whatever. And you, you really showed me that when I was a young person. So, thank you”.

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

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