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NextGen Native

We hear from some of the brightest in Indian Country about their success. They share it with you, to inspire you, encourage you and make their success real and relatable. The Next Generation is now.

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Kraynal Alfred | Navajo

Kraynal Alfred is Navajo. Originally from Tuba City, she moved around as a child. She spent time both in Oakland, CA and Atlanta, GA. Eventually she attended Georgia State University. She’s worked for the National Congress of American Indians, National Indian Health Board, the Speaker of the Navajo Nation, and currently at the Native American Political Leadership Program. Kraynal has been able to utilize several program to facilitate her educational and professional development. Those programs have taken her to Yale for the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, the Kennedy School of Government in Boston, and soon to Tucson for her Ph.D  at the University of Arizona. As a recipient of various programs, Kraynal now gets to give back. Kraynal has been able to develop the Native American Political Leadership Program. The program recently launched the Richard M. Milanovich Fellowship. The fellowship is named after the former long-time Chairman of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. To learn more about the fellowship, listen to the article and check out the website (below). In this episode we discuss: What it’s like to move around as a kid. Finding programs to attend, and the impact of those programs on your life. Kraynal’s research interests. How Kraynal TWICE bought one way tickets to a new city without a job and landed on her feet. (Listen to find out how she did this) Moving back home to the reservation. Resources: The Native American Political Leadership Program: The Richard M. Milanovich Fellowship: The INSPIRE Pre-College Program: For all the details, listen to the episode. You can also listen on: iTunes Stitcher What did you think of this episode format? Do you like the mix up to hear about these topics in addition to the regular interview  based episodes? Let me know by leaving a comment. As always, you can find NextGen Native on Facebook and Twitter.

1hr 5mins

21 Apr 2016

Rank #1

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Johnnie Jae | A Tribe Called Geek

Johnnie Jae on being a suicide survivor “You don’t just have to survive, you can thrive...” Johnnie Jae’s Bio Johnnie Jae is of the Otoe-Missouria and Choctaw tribes of Oklahoma. She is the managing partner of Native Max Magazine, founder of A Tribe Called Geek, and contributor to Native News Online. She is the manager and producer for the Success Native Style Radio Network, where she hosts the Indigenous Flame and A Tribe Called Geek radio shows. She is also a founding board member of Not Your Mascots. Known as the “Brown Ball of Fury,” Jae seamlessly shifts from humor and pop culture to advocacy and digital media, which has made her a much-sought after speaker and commentator. Her work has been discussed in many media outlets, such as Indian Country Today, ATPN, CBC, USA Today, BBC, Women’s E-News, Takepart.com and Upworthy. She has been a guest on several radio shows, including Native America Calling, Native Trailblazers, BBC’s World Have Your Say, and ICI Radio. Johnnie’s challenge to NextGen Natives Be real, work hard, and love with all your might. In this episode we discuss: Johnnie Jae's unique upbringing for the first seven years of her life. How school taught her that being “Native” was different. Johnnie’s various interests in school (cello, violin, classically trained vocalist) led to her being tokenized, and how that tokenization gave her access to opportunities others may not receive. The complexities of being “Native.” Suicide and the experience of suicide survivors. Johnnie is a multiple suicide-attempt survivor. We talk about addressing the stigma of suicide in Indian Country. The topic begins around the 21 minute mark. I urge you to listen. It’s a difficult topic but we need to have these conversations. Brene Brown’s  TED talks on vulnerability and shame. I feel I’m a broken record because I’ve referenced this several times previously. But I really think it’s important information for Indian Country! How Native Max, A Tribe Called Geek and NextGen Native all have common goals to connect and share stories of different Native groups (nerds, fashionistas, etc.) around the country. Indian Country needs more voices in media telling our stories. How we tell Native youth that they can be successful, but we don’t discuss what it means when you find success and how to handle or navigate it with others. The difference between “walking in two worlds” vs walking in your own two shoes. How YOLO is very similar to the famous quote attributed to Chief Tecumseh. For all the details, listen to the episode. You can also listen on: iTunes Stitcher

1hr 13mins

23 Mar 2016

Rank #2

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Jodi Gillette | Humble Leadership

“I never thought of myself as pitiful”… “but I struggled with the injustice of our history”-- Jodi Gillette Indian Country is humble. It encourages, as discussed on a previous episode, leadership as service. Jodi Gillette is a great example of this leadership style. Jodi Gillette is a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. She grew up in Kyle, South Dakota. Jodi describes herself as one of the most fortunate people in the country because of where she is from. As a child she was surrounded by family and friends. Sports, ceremonies, and powwows were central to her childhood. Her upbringing provided a solid foundation for her education and career. Jodi became well known throughout Indian Country through her service in the White House under President Obama. She was a policy advisor to President Obama on Native American affairs, and served in other key positions throughout her tenure in the administration. She now serves as a policy advisor at Sonosky, Chambers, Sachse, Endreson & Perry LLP. In this episode of the Lakota Voices series, we discuss Jodi’s background further and how she ended up in the administration. The episode covers a lot of ground, and we didn’t get to discuss other aspects of Jodi’s life that has also received significant attention. In this episode we discuss: The role of sports in her life. Shauna Long (Standing Rock Sioux), a professional basketball player in Morocco and daughter of a childhood friend. How Jodi attended a math and science program at Phillips Academy, and eventually attended the boarding school for her high school education. Her experience at Dartmouth (which she was admitted to after an essay made up for her SAT score), including how Jodi almost left school but Dartmouth went “all in” to keep her enrolled. How anyone can make a difference in the lives of others, and it doesn’t need to be a grand gesture. Jodi’s determination to change the narrative told about Native peoples as part of her work as an assistant on the production How the West was Lost. How hard it is to make change in tribal government...and how that experience was the best preparation for her experience at the White House. Jodi’s book recommendations of The Black Swan and Between the World and Me. Her challenge to NextGen Natives: Learn your language. ### This is part 2 of a series called Lakota Voices. For more episodes, subscribe to iTunes or Stitcher or visit NextGen Native to get all previous episodes. Join the conversation using #nextgennative and #lakotavoices. Better yet, join the conversation in person with friends, family, teachers, elders and others. *Credit to Jolynne Woodcock for the photo.


29 Feb 2016

Rank #3

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Paulette Jordan | Leadership as Service

Paulette Jordan is Couer d' Alene. She is currently a member of the Idaho State legislature, and she also sits on the board of the National Indian Gaming Association. Paulette also was previously a member of her (and my) tribal council. Paulette Jordan's family instilled leadership from an early age. But leadership for power was not the goal. Service was. Paulette demonstrates her commitment to service through the various positions she has held over the years. Paulette was both a self-described book worm and athlete growing up. She attended a college prep high school and then attended the University of Washington. There she used sports to connect with other students as she adjusted to life in the city after growing up on the reservation. After school, Paulette returned home and soon started to hear requests for her to serve and pursue elected positions in the community. She was elected to tribal council and in 2012 decided to run for the state legislature. Paulette was elected in 2014. Her presence in the legislature made an immediate impact in the state. She invited the tribes to attend an annual event at the capital. It was the first time that ever occurred. She hopes her role can strengthen relationships between the state and tribes. I really believe the trend of more Natives pursuing state office is one for the future. Relationships with states are tenuous. But more tribal people in elected office at the state level can help forge stronger working relationships. Paulette Jordan, like many NextGen Natives, discussed the role mentors have played in her life. Whether it is tribal elders and family members (Felix Aripa, Dave Matheson), previous member of the state legislature and fellow tribal member Jeanne Givens, or national leaders like Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Paulette is learning from the previous generation to further her service.


8 Jan 2016

Rank #4

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Brian Howard | To Grow Be Uncomfortable

Brian Howard is Research and Policy Analyst American Indian Policy Institute. He is Pipash, Akimel and Tohono O’odham. I’ve always respected Brian for his humility, knack for policy, and his commitment to Indian Country. During our conversation, I got to know more about his personal story, which I think includes a key lesson for everyone: being uncomfortable in order to grow. Brian shared a few stories during our conversation that shared the theme of growth and trying something new. What I found unique about the experiences was that he was able to combine the new experience with a familiar one so that the new challenge does not seem to have been as challenging as it could have been. For example, Brian traveled to Australia and New Zealand for a study abroad program when he was 16 years old. It was a big transition, but he spent much of his time in communities with Aborigines and Maoris, a familiar experience that helped him in his experience.   Recently he moved back home to be closer to his family, including his niece for whom he now acts as a father figure. He was moving back home, and closer to family. Easy, right? Well, he made the move without any job prospect. Each instance is an example of situations where people may not have taken action because they were afraid. What if I’m home sick? I would move back home but I don’t have a job yet. Brian did not let those questions deter him, and he came out on the other end of those experiences with new perspective.   Brian shared many great insights in this episode. He talked about the amazing role his mother played in his life, the importance of understanding policy issues, enduring lost loved ones, and more.   But I think Brian’s willingness to take on new challenges, and grow as an individual, is the best lesson we can take away. You don’t need to be considering a move to Australia to take advantage of his lesson. Identify a goal, challenge, or need that makes you uncomfortable. Do you feel that feeling in your gut? Did you immediately find 10 reasons why you can’t achieve it? If you did, then I think you found what you should focus on.

1hr 1min

6 Dec 2016

Rank #5

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Nick Tilsen | Thunder Valley CDC

“We were never afraid to admit what we didn’t know...But we did not fear to dream big...it is your right to dream big bold visions about your future, and your right to pursue those visions.” Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation is doing some incredible work on Pine Ridge. And Nick Tilsen is the Executive Director of the organization. Nick Tilsen, Executive Director of Thunder Valley Community Development CorporationThunder Valley was created after Nick and others were scolded by some ancestors during a sweat. They had been complaining about the way the rez is. The ancestors challenged them: “how long are you going to let other people decide the future for your children. It’s time to stop talking and start doing. Don't come from a place of fear, come from a place of hope.”  And with that, Thunder Valley CDC was created, named after a spiritual circle on the reservation. Nick Tilsen is an enrolled member of the Oglala Lakota. When he was five years old, his parents separated and he moved to Minneapolis with his father. He went from a predominantly Native American school district to a school where no single group made up more than 20 percent of the population. But no matter how long he lived in Minnesota, he knew his home was Pine Ridge. After high school, Nick spent some time in Alaska fishing. Eventually he joined U.S. Trek. He traveled around the country interviewing leaders in their local communities. He saw the impact they had in their communities and was inspired by them.  Nick had what he calls “a burning desire to be amongst his land and his people.” Nick returned to Pine Ridge to work like those he had interviewed while traveling. He sought to reclaim his family’s land, living in a tent while remodeling his parents’ house. Eventually he had his encounter with the ancestors and he created Thunder Valley. Where a field once sat, Thunder Valley is now a hive of activity disrupting the status quo. Thunder Valley is creating a 34 acre community from scratch. They employ 30 people. The organization has received significant attention recently, including from President Obama. But the work has been a decade in the making. Nick’s work is changing his community for the better. But Nick views his work and that of Thunder Valley as the stewards of the work. It is really the people who are making these changes.


17 Mar 2016

Rank #6

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Be Productive Not Busy: A Mindset

Jaclyn Roessel, Navajo, is many things. She is the Public Programs and Education Director at the Heard Museum. She is is one half of Schmooze: Lady Connected. She writes for the fashion site Presence 4.0. She curates her own website Grown Up Navajo. She’s even a previous guest on NextGen Native. One thing Jaclyn isn't? Busy. That doesn't mean Jaclyn doesn't have a full schedule or a lot going on. Quite the contrary. What it does mean, for her, is that she is mindful of what the word means and that people often use it as a crutch. Jaclyn has been on a minor campaign to remove that word from the lexicon of those around her. I appreciate it. I had the same revelation a few years ago. I try not to use it to describe my own experience but sometimes out of habit or social conformity I'll drop the word or at least go along with another person’s use of it in conversation, nodding in exasperated agreement. Tell me about it. I often use it when reaching out to guests for the show, acknowledging the value of someone’s time (I know you're busy…). That's how I found out about Jaclyn’s viewpoint on the word. After she said something along the lines of “I'm not busy, I try not to use the word” I had to reply by saying, effectively, “me neither! well,except for just then. It that was different.” That's when we decide we should have another episode outlining our thoughts on busy-ness and other musings. To get the full context, let you think we are insufferable zealots, have a listen. Hopefully our conversation inspires you to think differently, and more mindfully, about the language you use to describe your life. We dove into several other subject such as our fear of organizing events where no one shows up, our inspiration behind our passion projects, creating one’s own happiness, Jaclyn’s morning routine, and much more. Check it out.

1hr 1min

14 Nov 2016

Rank #7

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Waylon Pahona | Healthy Active Natives

“I’m always asked to motivate other people. Motivation has to come from within you. Nobody can give it to you.”-- Waylon Pahona  If you’re reading this, you are probably familiar with Healthy Active Natives. Waylon Pahona created this Facebook page that has almost 60 thousand likes. It’s been a source of motivation and support for people throughout Indian Country. Waylon--who is Hopi, Tewa and Maricopa Piipaash--joined NextGen Native to share his story. If you need some positive energy, Waylon is your guy.  Waylon grew up on Hopi and left when he was 18. He left to get away from some of the negative incidents he experienced. Waylon shared how he was sexually abused and wanted to get away. These negative experiences impacted him profoundly. For many years, he pushed those memories away and was not living a healthy life. He turned himself around (listen to the podcast to learn how) and eventually shared this story with others. This transformation eventually led to the creation of Healthy Active Natives.  In this episode we talk about: Being vulnerable--Brene Brown became a viral hit discussing how shame and courage come from the same state: being vulnerable. When you hear Waylon’s story, you’ll see he chose courage over shame. Float tanks--how they can be used to process memories, emotions, fears. Getting healthy is more than just exercising, or even eating right. It’s about mental balance, too. Understanding people to connect and encourage action. How to deal with negativity. Why Waylon hates the word “haters.” Working on letting go. Why he got a huge hug while traveling in Canada recently. How Derek Jeter’s last hit as a Yankee inspires Waylon.  For all the details, listen to the episode. You can also listen on: iTunes Stitcher ### Tell us what you are working on to make yourself better. Leave a comment on Facebook or on Twitter (#nextgennative) about what you are working on to improve yourself. This could be a physical goal, professional development, etc.


4 Feb 2016

Rank #8

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Jim Gray | Reforming Tribal Government

Jim Gray is Osage. Not only is he Osage, he is the former Principal Chief. Jim is one of the few (so far) elected leaders to appear on NextGen Native. Jim served two terms as Principal Chief from 2002-2010. During that time, he led significant reforms to the Osage government, eliminating almost one hundred years of U.S. government say in who was an Osage. I’ve shied away from interviewing elected leaders on NextGen Native. The reason is there are so many people serving or working in Indian Country that are not elected leaders that I thought they needed a spotlight of their own. However, I think Jim’s story as a former leader, in particular one who accomplished what he did as a young leader, is worth sharing his story. It’s amazing to see how small events cascade and facilitate into life changing moments. Jim did not seriously consider college until he realized he could play tennis at the collegiate level. Sport is what pushed Jim into college and set him on his course. Jim's first job was with his tribe as a grant writer. Eventually he found a job in the newspaper business where he found the work suited him. He continued working for the Tahlequah Daily Press for about ten years. An opportunity arose to buy his own newspaper, the Native American Times. At the time, there were only a few papers in Indian Country that were not owned and published by tribes.The Times was able to cover all tribal issues in Oklahoma and across Indian Country with a unique viewpoint. Jim Gray ran for office after a controversial time in Osage politics. He wrote a piece that described the need for a serious alternative candidate. After reading this piece, tribal members urged Jim to run. Jim won by a handful of votes. And just like that a tribal leader was created. Jim dove into the work of reforming the Osage government. Under his leadership, the tribe was able to enact a law at the federal level to pave the way for tribal reforms, create a commission to consider the reforms, draft a constitution, and enact it despite small pockets of resistance in the tribe. The reforms were recognized by the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development Honoring Nations program. He accomplished this as someone that had never run for office. Jim finished third in the 2010 election. It took him some time to adjust to life outside of office. It included a stint in DC. But ultimately, he needed time away to realize what he accomplished while in office, and to appreciate life outside office. For anyone looking to enact big changes-his story is one worth listening to and studying. For the rest of Jim’s story, check out the episode.

1hr 1min

21 Dec 2015

Rank #9

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The Navajo Dory (the fish) | Natalie Benally

"You give everything you got. It's hard, It's super challenging. You give all your life force to your art. so when you see the tiny moment when people are smiling, laughing, or being proud..." Natalie Benally, Navajo, wears many hats. Or maybe the better metaphor is...dance shoes. Natalie is a member of the Native American contemporary dance company Dancing Earth. She also served as the voice of Dory for the remake of Finding Nemo, or Nemo Hádéést’į́į́. Oh, and she also has a full time job as the teacher of the arts back on Navajo Nation. Natalie and I connected while Dancing Earth was visiting Crystal Bridges as part of a special exhibit on dance. We had a wide ranging conversation. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oChIg8dA09I Natalie went to a Bureau of Indian Education school at an old fort on the reservation. It was only a matter of time, not only as a Native person but as a student, where she started to understand the context in which she lived as a Navajo person, at the fort where her people’s long walk ended. She became interested in this broader history. It reminded me of the documentary The Flat, where younger people several generations removed from traumatic events begin asking questions about their family’s history, evoking strong emotions. We chatted about going away, and how that experience can either crystallize your awareness of who you are as a Native person, or people find it difficult to adapt and it becomes overwhelming. One of the amazing things about the experiences of people from all different tribes is how so many people can share similar experiences. This is one of those dynamics that many experience, whether they moved away for a job, education, they were taken away from their families, etc. We discussed Natalie’s role as an educator in the arts. She shared how powerful it can be to help students gain self-confidence and find themselves.   And, of course we discussed Natalie’s experience playing Dory in Finding Nemo. There is an amazing effort underway to translate Pixar movies into the Navajo language. The first movie was Star Wars, but people soon realized they needed to do a cartoon movie to reach younger audiences. In a way, the movie ends up a perfect combination of her role as an educator, teaching people language and life lessons in her people’s language, but also as a performer. I reached out to Dancing Earth when they were coming to town. And amazingly, we ended up not being able to discuss the company itself. Natalie had too many experiences to share. It’s an upbeat conversation, despite discussing some heavy issues. It’s the kind of balance we need in Indian Country.


21 Nov 2016

Rank #10

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Jaclyn Roessel Creativity and Mindfulness

Jaclyn Roessel “You need to savor, truly savor the life that you built for yourself...it’s the worst thing to have a beautiful life and not be able to appreciate it.” Jaclyn Roessel is Navajo. She grew up on the Navajo Nation and attended Arizona State University. She is the Education and Public Programs Director for the Heard Museum. She also writes the blog Grown Up Navajo, hosts a podcast called Schmooze: Lady Connected and Presence 4.0. As you can tell, Jaclyn is very busy. But she does it all because she has a passion for creativity and for creating and supporting positivity in Indian Country. Jaclyn’s energy is infectious and her story is not one to miss. In this episode we discuss: Jaclyn’s support as a child from parents and grandparents that fostered her creativity. How that support helped Jaclyn become a doer. How Jaclyn’s decision to attend ASU positioned her to work for the Heard Museum. Managing the temptation to ask “what if?” on past decisions or events. Taking care of yourself, especially if you want to take care of others. Growing personally so you can continue to provide for others as their needs grow and change. How an unpaid internship at the Heard Museum evolved into full time work. How/why we both read “self-help” type books. Float tanks Meditation/mindfulness Why Jaclyn embraces her nickname “Glamhippy” How Jaclyn became a museum curator by responding to a call for ideas, which eventually became Confluence: Inter-generational Collaborations Jaclyn’s preference for the term “challenges” instead of “problems” when discussing different issues in Indian Country. The inspiration for Grown Up Navajo. Jaclyn’s challenge to other NextGen Natives: 1) write a love letter to someone, anyone 2) think about ways we can be content creators. For all the details, listen to the episode. You can also listen on: iTunes Stitcher

1hr 12mins

4 May 2016

Rank #11

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Terra Branson | Reflecting on Personal Growth

Terra Branson: “How do you look backward but still move forward?” Terra Branson (Muscogee Creek) is the Executive Director of the Self-Governance Communication  and Education Consortium.Terra joined the show previously, and she returned  graciously for another wide-ranging conversation. When Terra Branson last joined the show, she just started her job at SGCEC as the Executive Director. Two years later, we discuss her adjustment and growth in the role. Part of her experience includes settling into her community of McAlester, Oklahoma. Like many that move to a new community, Terra experienced the challenge of building new friendships after college and in her professional career. We discussed identifying your skill sets, how to use those in your career, and how often times others see those skills in you before you see them in yourself. On Growth and Reflection We both moved away from a busy place to a place that allows you to think and reflect. This reminded me of a discussion shared by venture capitalist Chris Sacca on another podcast. Sacca invested in what became some of the biggest technology startups of the last decade. He credits part of his success to moving away from the Bay Area to Lake Tahoe where he could be proactive in his work, and less reactive to the daily static of Silicon Valley. The distance allowed him perspective and the ability to make the investment decisions in which he believed. The point is that we need to find more time to be reflective, and for Terra and I, we gained that time by moving away from a busy city. The conversation covered a lot of ground, but I think the theme of this episode is personal growth, reflection, and how we move through our careers. One thing that remains consistent with NextGen Natives is that even with these topics, the work that we do is always connected to our communities. Terra’s story is no different.


18 Dec 2016

Rank #12

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Reno Franklin | Servant Leadership

“The most important thing is to be open minded to allow forgiveness...some of the horrible things that were done to us, we know our story. We know the horrible things. We don’t let that define who we are. Those horrible things that were done to Kashia are not who Kashia are. We’ll never forget it. We’ll always remember it. We’ll honor those that was done to, but we won’t let that define us. And we will be open to forgiveness....I would challenge everyone to find it.” Reno Franklin is Chairman of the Kashia Band of Pomo Indians. This episode is a bit different because i) I usually do not have tribal leaders on the show. This is not for negative reasons, but instead I want to highlight the work of others not in leadership positions to show how much amazing work is being done in Indian Country. It’s also different because while we discuss Reno’s life, we also discuss his work as a tribal leader, projects he’s working on, approaches to being a leader. It’s definitely a fun conversation, and that’s before we even get to his story. Reno’s story: I first met Reno through the National Indian Health Board. I worked there and Reno was Chairman of the the organization. He also chaired the California Rural Indian Health Board, and the National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers. This is not to mention the work he’s done with other associations and working groups. Although his resume reads like one of grand ambition, his beginnings in tribal leadership tell a different story. It tells a story of service. Reno moved back to the reservation after he was asked to help with some wildfire work for the tribe. Reno was a firefighter and EMT at the time. Reno said that since he was asked, he moved home. He wasn’t far away, but this was his time to come home. His firefighting work led him to historic preservation work. Like other NextGen Natives, one project led to another, which eventually opened new doors and challenges. His work in healthcare started with a personal story he shared. To hear it, you’re going to have to listen to the show. But suffice it to say, when he started, he didn’t have any experience in the field. He learned through service and eventually his work rose to the national level. We discussed what it was like for him to be a tribal leader at a young age, in particular one at the national level where politics is intense. He shared stories about how he earned the respect of his colleagues and peers. Over time, they looked to him more and more for leadership. I shared Reno’s challenge to NextGen Natives above, and I think it is some of the most powerful words I’ve heard in awhile. It reminds me of Wab Kinew’s book The Reason You Walk and the theme of forgiveness. It’s not an easy discussion, but I think we need to be vulnerable and open to the idea of forgiveness.  Thanks for sharing, Reno!

1hr 4mins

16 Dec 2016

Rank #13

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Mike Black | BIA Director

“I like to tell [students] you’ll never know what you’re capable of until you try.” “The future is whatever they want it to be. And there is nothing that should stop them from getting there.” --Mike Black Mike Black, Oglala Sioux, is the Director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Mike’s story is a great example of what happens when you combine experience, skills, and mentorship. On their own, each is a valuable asset. But they may not be enough individually to propel your career to the highest level. Combined, they are powerful. Mike Black was born in Flandreau, South Dakota and grew up in Aberdeen, South Dakota. As a kid, Mike enjoyed school and sports. Math came easy to him, so it’s no surprise that he attended the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. Several friends from Aberdeen also attended the school, providing a critical peer support group. After college, Mike wanted to return to Aberdeen. The BIA was hiring a mechanical engineer so it worked out well for him to take this position. But Mike’s path wasn’t a straight line to the Director’s chair. He started as a “GS-5.” The “GS” scale is how the government determines pay for employees. To provide perspective, the GS schedule goes to 15. So Mike started in the bottom third of pay. Maybe, despite the pay, Mike had some amazing work, right? Wrong. Mike spent the first several months printing blueprints. Mike learned the lesson that even though he was full of energy and had a degree, he had to learn the ropes before getting to work. But along the way, the same supervisor who put him on the printer also allowed Mike to ask questions. He was able to learn about the more substantive hands-on work. He learned not only the nuance of the trade but how to operate within BIA. He also learned humility. Mike embraced those lessons and kept them close as he rose through the BIA. To hear how he did it, listen to part 1 of Lakota Voices. In this episode we discuss: The tradeoffs for a college student to do doing manual labor jobs vs. internships during summer break. The role of mentors in professional development. Who can be a mentor (hint: EVERYONE). How being told “no one is irreplaceable” was some of the best advice he ever received. How important it is to push your comfort zone. Balancing personal life and career development. Rarely do either of these subjects care about the other when presenting opportunities or challenges. One of Mike’s critical growth moments that involved balancing a significant personal situation (divorce) and moving to another state for a promotion. Challenges and opportunities are often the same thing. This is part 1 of a series called Lakota Voices. For more episodes, subscribe to iTunes or Stitcher or visit NextGen Native to get all previous episodes.


23 Feb 2016

Rank #14

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Jared Yazzie | Just Create Something

"What's stopping you from making something?" Jared Yazzie is the founder of OXDX Clothing Company. He joined NextGen Native once again to catch up on his recent projects. Jared's clothing has been a hot commodity for a few years, but recently his business is taking some major strides. He recently won a scholarship to join an incubator , participated in an event at the Smithsonian, and won a contest held by Louie Gong's Eighth Generation. Jared's story is one of those "overnight success" stories you hear about. One that pops up after working hard, learning, growing and sacrificing.  It was fun to hear Jared talk about where his business is headed, and how he occasionally still cannot believe when he finds himself in the company of other high-performing people. One of my favorite takeaways from Jared was his commitment to never stop learning. In whatever you do, I think that mindset is so important. Once you close your mind off from learning, you stop growing professionally, and personally. Jared is never going to stop growing. It will be fun to see where OXDX, and Jared, is the next time we connect on NextGen Native.


12 May 2017

Rank #15

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NextGen Natives in the News

On this episode, I share some ofthese updates with a segment I call “NextGen Natives in the News.”This is a mini roundup of things I’ve come across recently that Ithink is worth sharing with NextGen Natives. NextGen Native has been aroundabout a year and a half. In that time, we’ve heard stories frommany amazing people in Indian Country. The fun part about buildingthis network of NextGen Natives is to see the amazing things thatprevious guests continue to do, and learn about cool things thatothers are doing who are good candidates to get on theshow. Jared Yazzie Jared Yazzie created OXDXclothing. Recently hewas featured on a story by KJZZ radio station in Phoenix. The story discussedthe growth of Native fashion generally and Yazzie’s workspecifically. It includes both audio and print. Jessica Metcalfe & BeyondBuckskin Another leader of the fashionmovement in Indian Country is making waves. Jessica Metcalfe, founder of BeyondBuckskin, the online fashion boutique and blog isopening a retail storefrontin Belcourt, ND. The store willalso include space for artists. The grand opening is May 7. This isso cool! Lawyers in the News Nikke Alex is a third-year lawstudent at the University of New Mexico. She will graduate thisSpring. Earlier this week, Nikke shared that she isreceiving an award from the school during graduation. It’s great tosee that someone that balanced her academics, work, personalprojects, and more is being recognized for her accomplishments.Congratulations, Nikke! The other legal news is fromsomeone I have not met, but their awesome news  is worthsharing. Kamaile Turcan isHawaiian and is a graduate of the William S. Richardson School ofLaw at the University of Hawaii-Manoa. Beginning this Summer, shewill begin her term as aclerk for U.S. SupremeCourt Justice Sonia Sotomayor. This is huge! Supreme Court clerksoften play a significant role in  first drafts of thedecisions rendered by the court, or at least informing theirjudge’s thinking on key issues. It’s a great achievement for Turcanand a cool opportunity for the court to be exposed directly tosomeone with Native ancestry. Heading to GON? ConsiderRezilience Event This weekend, ABQ is the placeto be. If you’re attending Gathering of Nations be sure to checkout the art event Rezilience. The event is being organized by, amongothers, Warren MontoyaI believe. Warren held a similarevent last year and this one seems to be bigger.


28 Apr 2016

Rank #16

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Heather Whitemanrunshim |

“Focus on being proactive and use the future as the guidance point when you [encounter] challenges. What you work for is bigger than us [individually].” Heather Whitemanrunshim is Apsalooke (Crow Nation). She is an attorney for the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) where she works primarily on issues pertaining to water law. Our wide-ranging conversation touched on two issues that I am still thinking about several days later. First, we discussed the need to be vulnerable to learn language and/or culture. I think it is a common experience that people our age grew up afraid to admit we didn’t know as much language as others, or we were worried about making mistakes. The alternative is to avoid it and avoid that experience. We need to foster environments that encourage learning and make it easier to be uncomfortable and make mistakes. As a new parent, I am thinking about how to teach my child about who we are, and that requires me learning even more along the way, too. She also shared the idea that we almost only focus on the concept of time immemorial with respect to the past. But she challenged us to apply the concept to the future. We will always be here into the future. I think that is just as important as thinking about the past. It helps contextualize the highs and lows of individual moments, because in the arc of one’s life, let alone many generations, those moments are small. Digging deeper into those two points alone are worth listening, and she covered so much more! We covered a wide range of other topics in our conversation including: Not being afraid to be vulnerable when learning languages, and fostering an environment where it is encouraged to learn, not where people are discouraged because they don’t know. How to work through difficult situations by providing multiple choices or consequences. For example, Heather was lonely when she left for boarding school, but when she thought about moving back home, she realized it wasn’t the right choice for her. Thinking about moving home provided the contrasting option she needed to push through to achieve her goal. Being open to opportunities. Heather attended the Institute for American Indian Arts (IAIA) and eventually the University of New Mexico.  She did not consider law until a professor encouraged her to consider it. She listened to the guidance and it had a significant impact on her life. She worked for a law firm, as a public defender, for her tribe and eventually landed at Native American Rights Fund. And much more. Give it a listen.

1hr 1min

14 Apr 2017

Rank #17

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Politics, Art & Bryan Newland

Bryan Newland joined the show the day after the election in 2016. We discussed a variety of issues about politics, from the election itself, what it means for tribes, and broader ideas and actions around politics generally. It's not your normal take on politics, which I think is a good thing. Not that there is anything wrong with the "normal take," it's just that people are used to it. If you want to hear some in depth conversation about these issues, to hear some thoughts that should challenge people on any side of a political debate (in a good way), than this conversation is for you. But as the title suggests, this conversation is about more than just politics. One of the things I love about where NextGen Native is heading, is that we can spend more time talking with previous guests (like Bryan) about a wide array of issues. In this episode we also dive deep into his passion for photography. He's been photographing his homelands and the results are awesome. Check him out on Instagram (bryannewland) to see some of his work. I realized during our conversation that Bryan's love of politics and photography comes from the same place: his love of his community, and his desire to be engaged and involved. Sounds corny, but if you listen to the conversation, I think you'll find that it's true. If that all sounds too high-and-mighty, worry not. We find ways to make fun of ourselves and have a good time. In other words, it was a healthy conversation. To get back on the high horse, I think that is one of the other takeaways to this conversation: you can have a range of emotions and thoughts about important or controversial issues at one time and still find ways to laugh and find comfort in conversation. Enjoy.

1hr 13mins

10 Nov 2016

Rank #18

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Jackson Brossy | Why NOT In Indian Country

“If it takes an hour to go to the nearest ATM, banking isn’t really on your horizon as a job option”-- Jackson Brossy Jackson BrossyJackson Brossy is on a mission. First, his passion to serve his people of the Navajo Nation is strong. Second, his passion for economic development across Indian Country is part of a wave to make our communities a stronger place to live. Jackson is Navajo. He grew up on the nation in Red Mesa, and spent weekends traveling an hour, to the nearest border town for groceries and to access the closest ATM. Jackson is the Executive Director of the Navajo Nation Washington Office. He attended Stanford University and then the Harvard Kennedy School. In this episode we discuss: Jackson’s roots in Red Mesa, AZ on the navajo Nation. The role of parents in the college application process. Jackson’s experience at Stanford and Harvard. How a Native student told him not to attend the same school they did and why. The motivation behind Jackson’s interest in economic development (hint: border towns & silicon valley). Jackson’s question of why not in Indian Country? The value of relationships versus “networks” and “networking.” What the role is for economic development in Indian Country. To hear Jackson’s story, listen to the episode.ListenListen on iTunes Listen on Stitcher Listen to all previous episodes hereJackson Brossy's challenge to NextGen Natives:(ed note: as part of the show, I try to ask the guests what challenge, or question, or idea they want to share with other NextGen Natives. Here is Jackson’s) “Let’s start talking more about what we can do to build [our] economies. In particular tech...Lets play some offense instead of just defense.” These ideas are meant to start conversations that hopefully turn into action. Go to NextGen Native on Facebook and become part of the conversation, or on Twitter #nextgennative.

1hr 3mins

28 Jan 2016

Rank #19

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Jourdan Bennett-Begaye | Survival of the First Voices

Jourdan Bennett-Begaye is Navajo. She attends the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. Jourdan is also one of the creators of the Survival of the First Voices Festival. Jourdan grew up in Shiprock, NM. Sports played a big role in her life as a child. She played soccer and volleyball. One came naturally, as Jourdan’s mother was a volleyball coach. Soccer was completely foreign to her and her first practice she showed up in tennis shoes and denim shorts. Both experiences are great learning environments. In one, you have access to knowledge, mentors, and opportunity. In the other, you are in an environment unfamiliar to you, you are uncomfortable, you have to open yourself to learning and growth and being comfortable being uncomfortable. I think access to structure, mentors and resources, as well as discomfort are critical to development and success. People can succeed with one or the other, but combined experiences are really springs to success. Jourdan eventually focused on volleyball full time. She played club volleyball, traveled many hours each week to practices and tournaments. It even allowed her to travel to Australia, opening Jourdan up the world of travel. Jourdan began college at Emory University. Her goal was to go work at the Centers for Disease Control. But she experienced culture shock, living far away from home and not being able to play volleyball due to some injuries. She transferred to Fort Lewis College, which was closer to home. But it was her last choice when initially considering what school to attend. I asked Jourdan why that was the case. She got very real and shared a powerful story. Initially she thought Fort Lewis was “too rezzy” and she was looking for a different experience. She said during high school she felt a bit ashamed of being Native; she accepted it but felt ashamed of her identity. Today, she has the complete opposite perspective. What caused this change? A story from her grandparents. She was visiting them one day and her grandmother told a story about how Jourdan’s Greatx2 grandmother was born on the long walk. Jourdan learned she descends from someone who survived not only the journey itself, but survived an experience where women and babies would be killed on the journey and that only half of the people on the walk survived. Jourdan realized that “she was a miracle” and that she was on Earth for a reason. The story helped her understand who she is and where she came from. Talk about powerful and empowering. So much of our recent histories has been about survival. And we have. Suicide has been an issue for too long. Jourdan’s message that each person is a miracle, that they are here because previous generations survived is one worth sharing in our own communities. Jourdan’s inspiration for Survival of the First Voices with a friend during a road trip. They were driving home from LA and Jourdan mentioned a new media festival that occurred in New York and that people wanted a similar event on the West Coast. They decided to do it themselves. And they did it in three months. It’s amazing to see how successful they were in implementing the festival in such a short timeframe. They just took action. So amazing. They are in the third year of the festival and continue to grow it. Listen to the episode for more about Jourdan’s story. And be sure to check out their Facebook page for more information.


21 Jan 2016

Rank #20