The best of with Ricardo Caté, Larissa FastHorse

Indian Country Today

On this special edition, we bring you the best of 2020 with two encore interviews featuring cartoonist Ricardo Caté and MacArthur 'Genius Grant' winner Larissa FastHorse.

On this special edition, we bring you the best of 2020 with two encore interviews featuring Without Reservation's Ricardo Caté sharing New Mexico's colorful way of spreading a strong message with a COVID-19 coloring book for tribal youth.

Also on the show is Larissa FastHorse, Sicangu Lakota citizen, to talk more about her craft and being awarded this year's 'Genius Grant.' 

Some quotes from the show

Ricardo Cate
(Cartoon by Ricardo Cate)

Ricardo Cate:

“I started with the lockdown and as the whole pandemic progressed, whatever was on the news, I started drawing on a day to day basis.”

“Like Madame Trujillo said, I come up with these ideas and like I said, I’ve already been drawing them. And so from not only a parent or a community member standpoint but from a teacher standpoint.”

“I'm also a teacher and I work a lot with kids. In fact, I had been passing out art supplies in our community the same week that they had asked me. So when this fell into my lap, so to speak, it was a very opportune time for that to happen because I was thinking of kids at the time and wondering how I could help them a little more and this coloring book seemed to be right up that alley. So it was a very opportune time.”

“I wanted to do it from a Native standpoint because there was only some information starting to come out. But I wanted something specifically for Native communities and especially for the kids. And I was very happy to do this. And so they pretty much let me loose. They just gave me the information. I took the information and put a humorous spin on it. And that's basically all I did.”

“Well actually I was one of those people that was guarding the entrance to our village. And so that actually kind of happens but it wasn't so long (as written in the cartoon). It was just like “my cousin’s girlfriend is from here can I get in”. And I thought that was pretty funny. So I draw a lot from personal experiences and just last night I was booking it back from Santa Fe trying to make it back because we still have that nine o'clock curfew in our village.”

“Yeah well I wasn't sure about that one when I first drew it. I was like, am I getting too much into the traditional aspects of Pueblo culture. But you know, it's all good. You see these pictures of women with the pottery on their head. And so I always have to think about and try to basically censor myself so I don't step on any toes. I'm glad this coloring book turned out really nice. And hopefully it makes a huge impact on what we're trying to do here to educate everyone.”

“Yeah one time I had a (dance) partner and she was (staying) six feet away but it just turned out that she didn't like me.”

“I'm really happy that this book turned out this way. Although I don't have a book yet. I haven't seen the coloring book yet.”

“If there's any way that I could personally deliver the coloring books and work with kids and even talk to them anywhere, anytime let me know. I would love that opportunity for sure.”

“Actually I can say I came up with that (hashtag) but I had been seeing Stoodis, which is lingo for Natives for ‘Let's do this’ and then Skoden, which is ‘Let's go then’ it's just lingo that have been appearing on Facebook. And it's been very popular. So when we were at a meeting and they were trying to come up with some catch phrase and it just came out, it just popped up. The Native in me just spoke up and the non-Natives were just looking at me. They were like, what does that mean and I had to explain it to them. And when I did, they absolutely loved it. And so I'm sitting there going, ‘Oh my gosh, what have I done? Is this right?’ Or I wasn't sure you know, but it turns out it was, it was the perfect catchphrase for this.”

Larissa FastHorse:

"It's really hard and they are serious about their secrecy. My assistant read one of my emails before I had a chance to move it somewhere where she couldn't see it and they freaked out. They were really worried about it. Secrecy is essential. So you're only allowed to tell one other human. So I told my husband and then my assistant knew so she was able to help me out with a lot of the things you had to do to prepare for the announcement."

"It was really shocking. I had absolutely no idea. People often said, oh you kind of knew it was happening. Because they interview people for up to a year before you get the word people in your field, people that you've worked with, et cetera. I had absolutely no idea. I was completely shocked. In fact, I thought they were calling to hire me to help them create maybe a new Indigenous program or something. I had no idea that this is what it was for."

"I've been so fortunate to be able to do work with a lot of different Indigenous communities and then also with different theater companies, connecting them to their local Indigenous communities. So I kind of have two tracks of work. One of them you're very familiar with, which was with Cornerstone Theater company. We've been working with Indigenous communities so far in Los Angeles, in the greater Phoenix, Arizona area. Now we're working in South Dakota with my people, the Lakota, Dakota, Lakota people creating large pieces where people tell their own stories and represent themselves in those stories."

"Then on the other side, I've been working in traditional theater companies telling the stories that Indigenous people ask me to tell again. I consult with Indigenous folks and say, what do you want told? How do you want to be represented? I do a lot of work in these traditional theaters to connect them. I always say, you need to know who your local Indigenous people are. And we'd find a way to make sure that they're all connected. That they started to have a relationship and that they start to give back because theaters are living on stolen land. And it's really important to me that they understand that. I facilitate those connections to get them to see how they can start giving back to Native people."

"We’re just as incredible and that we're smart, intelligent, contemporary people. I had a woman at a theater gathering once say to me, I never would've guessed you're Native American you're so well-spoken you know, I mean, people still say things like that. This is an educated woman. We've all heard it, but I think it's really important that the rest of the world hasn't heard it also, for instance, in Los Angeles, when I was working with Indigenous people who are from this land, the Tongva Gabrielino people. They said, look, we want you to write to the white people. We need them to know we exist because they were declared extinct by the federal government, and they have not been able to get recognition back. So they said, look, we need you to tell them, cause we need all the allies we can get to help us. And they are still fighting for that recognition today. Whatever little bit I can do through theater to help more people understand those fights, I'm thrilled that people trust me and give me the ability to tell their stories and the ways that they want them to be told."

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Patty Talahongva, Hopi, is executive producer of Indian Country Today. She is also the anchor of the weekday newscast. Follow her on Twitter: @WiteSpider. 

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