Reconsider Everything: The American History Project

Indigenous History Education in America Pt.2

October 10, 2022 Marissa Season 1 Episode 1
Reconsider Everything: The American History Project
Indigenous History Education in America Pt.2
Show Notes Transcript

In this continued conversation with Lyric Aquino, she speaks more about dark events in Indigenous history, her personal experiences being Indigenous in America and how she stays connected to other Indigenous people and her culture. Joshua Arce, the president and CEO of Partnership With Native Americans, also takes us through the events of Indigenous Boarding Schools and the Indian Child Welfare Act. CONTENT WARNING: This episode discusses subject matter including sexual assault, violence, and abuse. Dive further into Indigenous history at the resource list: https://linktr.ee/indigenoushistoryresources And follow us on social media: https://linktr.ee/reconsidereverythingpodcast

I will never, uh, I guess escape the lack of knowledge people have for indigenous people, and I will never be able to understand why I am the person that. Ends up being the one people go to. Welcome to Reconsider Everything, a podcast that dives into the impact of how American history is and isn't taught in the us. The lack of multicultural history taught in schools has been brought up more and more the past few years in mainstream conversations. But have you ever thought about what that means for those whose history has not been told or celebrated for centuries? This season, every week you will hear stories from people of various backgrounds who answer that question and gain insight from those working in education. I'm your host, Maris Nichol, and this is just the beginning of what I call the American History Project. Hopefully you'll learn a lot of new history that will make you reconsider everything you know and the empathy you have for the people around you. Hello and welcome back to part two of the Indigenous History episode. I'm back with Lyric Kuo and Joshua Aay, the President and CEO of partnership with Native Americans who continue to share their insight on indigenous history and culture. In this episode, I would like to add a content warning here that this episode does talk about sexual assault and abuse, and I will give a trigger warning later in the episode before we begin speaking about those topics. So I wanna talk a little more about how. Difficult to even get that history. And I mean, so for you, like if you wanna research something, what is your method of doing that? Yeah. So do you mean that particularly in my, like for my tribe or for just in general? Um, I would say for both. Okay. Yeah. So in general, I try to go to other indigenous, a network of other indigenous people that I've met. Okay. So that's something that has really helped me. Um, I really don't know what I would do without these conferences and indigenous people that I've met over social media who can tell me a little bit about their culture and their tribes because I mean, without that access, it, it's kind of really hard. I mean, when I look at text, They just rub me the wrong way because they're so inaccurate. Um, how can you expand on that? When you say they rub you the wrong way, Like is it, Yeah, so the depictions are really sad looking. Um, it's usually like indigenous people like spirit on a spike or like just. Always like a white man somehow in the picture because it's always like war images or it's, uh, particularly like a Plains Indian who is like in pants and moccasins and then has like an eagle feather or is wearing a headdress. And you know, those are all done on different circumstances, but that is like the average depiction Yeah. Of an indigenous person in these textbooks. So it's just like, okay. Once again, like I am not being represented here. Mm. And it's really unfortunate. Now, when I'm researching for my own tribe, I would say that I talk to, um, elders within my tribe who are still around. Um, my, that the recently passed in July and it was really devastating for our community. He was a tribal elder. He was our last, uh, World War II veteran. Um, and he was one of. Oldest and last, uh, Tay was speaking members, uh, who spoke at flu at Lisa's birth. Wow. So, um, they do have language restoration programs going on, but, um, he was like one of our oldest speakers. So it, it definitely, I feel like it took a hit, but I would go to him for knowledge and I go to my grandma who does remember, you know, she remembers a lot about the traditions and stuff, and she's more willing to talk about it now that I'm older. Mm-hmm. , um, So I, I go to her, I talk to her nine brothers and sisters. Um, so there's, there's a lot about that. But, you know, one thing that I will say is that in my tribe, if they don't know an answer, one of my family members is gonna go to someone who does. You know? Yeah. And that's just how it works. I mean, you know, they'll text a cousin, Distant cousin, or they'll text or, um, run into someone at the store and kind of ask them, you know, different questions and then they'll end up relaying it back to me in a really long phone conversation. Mm-hmm. , or sometimes there are documents that, uh, we actually have, um, that can provide that information for me. Okay. So it's, it's really hard. I, every time I look something up, like for example, Did indigenous people have horses before the Europeans came? That's something that if you just, let's say if I Google it, there's like debates over it and for me I'm like, either something happened or didn't happen. I know , and it just seems like it's really hard to find. It's actually, uh, that's the thing. So I mean, I will say we, if it's something like that, the general rule is that we don't go by the colonizer's record. Um, at least. A lot of that information. Yeah. I know my friend Sarah, who is in an article that I'm, uh, writing. Studies that she studies, um, the lineage of horses, and we had horses before Europeans came because of our trade route. But people once again like to deny that. So it's one of those things where like indigenous people have been saying this for such a long time, and I'll believe the word over. Um, Orally passed down traditional stories than a colonizer's history any day. Right. Because I've been double wiped out as a triple wiped out. Mm-hmm. as a bisexual black, indigenous woman. Mm-hmm. I mean, where do I exist in these books? Nowhere. Yeah, Nowhere. So did you sense that? Lack of representation from a young age. My whole life, I, I, this is gonna sound dramatic, but like, I mean, I think going to a school with a lot of white people and also just not seeing, you know, representation of my indigenous culture and black culture and like, it was just really hard for me because at times I felt like I just wanted to be white to be more normal. And like that thought kind of like sickens me that I was in an environment where like I was happy, like it wasn. Anything, you know, like with my parents or like anything like that. Yeah. But it was just like, okay, I feel so different. Like mm-hmm. , I just kind of wish and on so many different levels as well. Yeah, yeah. But then even though like I always wanted to be like more white passing and still be indigenous. Like I wanted to look like a white girl, but be indigenous. And I think that's just because I felt like my life would. Easier at that point. Mm-hmm. . So I, I would say that, What was the question, ? I asked, Um, like how you felt like that lack of representation from a young age. Shitty. Yeah. So it was really, really, Yeah, it was really, really awful. Yeah. And then when I would get semblance of representation, I would clinging to it. I would clinging to it so hard. So like even with Pocahontas on Disney. Terrible, terrible representation. Absolutely terrible. First of all, they aged her up. She was 12 mm. Um, Pocahontas also wasn't her name, but I can't pronounce because I don't speak her tribe's language. Yeah, another thing. Hundreds of languages. Yeah. But so, um, that was a terrible representation of indigenous people because they made it seem like she fell in love with John Smith. She. Stolen at the age of 12 and was raped and kidnapped and forced to go to England, but I was like, Wow, you know, she is a Disney princess. Mm-hmm. , that makes me feel so good. And so it's just so sad looking back to realize like, I was her for Halloween one year because I was like, this is. Great representation. Mm-hmm. . And so it just, it really wasn't, and so I remember Yeah. But sad of the fact that there's only was like one figure at that time. Yeah. I was clinging to everything I could mm-hmm. everything I could. And it was something that, looking back is really sad and I just hope that my kids never have to go through that and you know, they will never have to go through that. I will say, have you learned about people indigenous history that you feel like if you had known about them at a younger age, like that would've helped you in some. I definitely think so. Um, I think just in general more about, that's, that's an interesting question because I, I can't particularly pinpoint right now who I would be thinking of, but I think if there was that indigenous representation of artists and of people in general, Mm-hmm. it could have done nothing but help, so. Mm-hmm. . So I know something else that we talked about before was how Catholicism was forced onto indigenous people. just reading by your face. I can't tell if you really wanna talk about that or not. No, I definitely do bring it up. Okay. , well, can you explain, um, just from your knowledge of how. That has impacted just your tribe? This is one of my favorite topics because it actually irritates me so much. Mm-hmm. . So, um, I was born and raised Catholic. Um, I was so religious as a child. My mother thought I was going to be a nun. Um, not the lyric. I know . Yes. . Yeah. She likes to bring that back and was like, I don't know. What I was thinking wasn't me , I don't know who she was. And so it's so funny because. When I was little, I used to get in trouble at Catholic school for questioning things. Um, I remember questioning if Adam and Eve were here first, then why were there dinosaurs? Um, and my mom was like, Why is she in trouble? She's right. Like she, I mean, she has a point. Yeah. And so from there it just kind of always led me to be like, , Is this what I should be doing? Mm-hmm. , it just didn't, It's frustrating that I think just for someone to tell a child like you shouldn't be asking questions. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And so one way I will say this has affected my tribe is because we actually have one of the oldest churches in the United States on our reservation, and it's like made out of wood and it's dusty, it's beautiful. For this, I'm just gonna say Dusty, because like it is a Catholic church on a reservation. Mm-hmm. where it was literally forced. Mm-hmm. . So, um, one thing that's really interesting is that my family is very Catholic and that's because we were forced to be. And so on My reservation, not only do we have that old church that is no longer in use, we have another church that was newly built and in this church they incorporate, um, typical traditions of OK Winge and Catholicism. So during church we have tribal drums. We say prayers in Spanish, a little bit in Tawa and also English. And then, um, funerals are also Catholic funerals mixed with traditional elements. So it's, it's something where they try to blend the culture mm-hmm. to, to keep it alive. It feels watered down to me. Do you feel like funerals are a big part of your tribe's culture? Like you do it a very specific way Yes. Compared to how Catholics would Yes, very much so. I'm one night that that passed in, um, July. I think I said June, but it was definitely. The summer, um, , he, we definitely had, uh, a lot of traditions that are purely rooted in, um, Okay. Wayne Gay fashion. And that funeral and everything that happened lasted eight days. Wow. And we still have not finished it completely. My grandma is actually going back, um, at the end of June to finish. The funeral. So a whole year later? Yeah, a whole year later. So, and then in there we also have Catholic elements too. So it's really, it's really difficult, I would say, to keep it all, to keep it all balanced. And so one thing that I noticed was that this was far less depressing and it was, Way more communal. And it was def, it was also the first, um, funeral I've been able to attend back home on the reservation just because flights are really expensive and I come from a poor family. Um, so it's really hard to get back there, especially if it's all of us. I actually, um, bought my own plane ticket home. I was working my first real reporting job and I was saving money. Since I started it because I knew my was old, I knew, I just felt like I have to start saving because I know my mom won't be able to afford to take me and her, or like my brothers and sisters down there, and I wanna make sure I can get there. So I've been saving money, I've been saving money, and I went. Um, so it's one of those things where like every experience I have there is really important and rich because it's difficult to get there. Mm-hmm. , uh, for me anyways, but, Catholicism has affected us in, in every aspect. Um, we have a traditional feast day coming up where we, um, do dances in the play blow. We do the buffalo dance and the command she dance and everyone on the reservation who's able to and has received water, which is, um, an initiation, uh, is able to dance. And you dance in the s and you the, I mean, throughout the streets, the play, and you feast in each other's houses and it's the most wonderful time of year. It's amazing. It actually. Wow. It's the best. And I think something that really bugged me and still does is that when you're feasting and you have this rich indigenous culture, Catholicism is just wiggling its way into there because they take a saint, like a statue of a saint and bring it from house to house and everyone like pins money to the saint and it goes to the church. I don't want you here. like, Yeah. It just, it's something that, you know, the Catholic church once again did to raise money for the church, like on our land, and it's just so frustrating because you can't even have a single holiday without it. Yeah. So at what age did you, cuz you said you were very religious and into that. Yeah. So at what age did that change? Ooh. I would probably say around, . Ooh, that's really hard. I feel like I always have this internal battle, right? Mm-hmm. , and I think going to Catholic school perpetuated it for so much longer. I definitely feel like when I got to public school, I was like, This isn't for me. Mm-hmm. , And I felt free of the grips of Catholicism because I wasn't. Forced to go to church two times a week. Mm-hmm. , I wasn't forced to have a religion class and pray all the time. You know, I could kind of like really think for myself mm-hmm. , um, I really feel like Catholic school doesn't allow you to do that. And so I would say I really started having my doubts pretty young. Mm-hmm. , but I don't think I really started until freshman year. High school. Okay. And I would say that's because in about sixth or seventh grade, I still have those thoughts, but eighth grade's your big year, eighth grade is where you make your confirmation and you choose whether or not you wanna go to a Catholic school. Eighth grade was the year where my family told me that my chaya's favorite saint was an indigenous saint named St. Catherine Teca Witha. And she, you know, I should take her name. She was an indigenous patron saint. You know, I was like, Wow, like this would make my say yeah, really happy. Yeah. And so, you know, it, I got sucked back in. So does it get, Was it confusing then, and does it still get confusing about how much you participate really in Catholicism because it's still kind of embedded in your culture? Yeah, no, it definitely does. I know there are aspects of my grandpa's funeral and of the days leading up to it where I did not want to really be. Associated with what was going on. But I knew it would make him happy because he was a devout Catholic. Mm-hmm. mys a devout Catholic, my mom Catholic. So it was just one of those things where I feel like I'm always gonna be teetering just because my family is in the clutches of Catholicism. Mm-hmm. . And you know, while I think it. A religion that everyone has the right to practice. I think it's done so much damage to my people. Um mm-hmm. of okay, Awan gay, but also just my brothers and sisters and like other indigenous people that I just can't get behind a religion that just refuses to discuss what they've done. I mean, we hear about the residential schools, Those were all Catholic schools. Um, so imagine my grandma getting beaten, right? But she, you know, Say she wasn't able to go home like she did every night to my grandparents. Right, Right. Like she, if she was stuck at a residential school, she would've been and could have been beaten to death. So, and this is something else too, where I feel like if I look that up, they all say Indian boarding schools. Is that what you're referring to? Is that It's another thing where, Yep. Indian boarding schools and residential schools really decimated culture. I asked Joshua about the history of what occurred at these boarding schools. So essentially what had happened was, you know, early on and, and we're talking about the 1880s, um, and part of that, uh, you know, um, assimilation process, children were removed from their homes to go to boarding school. And so one of the things that I talked about earlier was, um, some of those families in order to get the, uh, uh, bureau. Of Indian Affairs to release the rations to them. They had to send their kids to boarding school so they couldn't get the food. If they didn't send their kids to boarding school. So you're gonna hear more stories about that. And this was a, that period between the 1880s, um, and, you know, 1920s, 1930s mm-hmm. , um, where they were. And some of them were forcibly removed. Um, but there was a, uh, you know, uh, deculturalization process. Uh, brutalize, brutalizing, um, stories that are going to come out. Um, and just, you know, some of the darkest, probably times for Indian people. Um, um, a a lot of stories of, um, probably torture. Mm-hmm. , you know, of, of, of, of physical abuse. The mental abuse, the psychological abuse, cuz we're talking about kids as young as four or five and six years old being sent hundreds of miles away. From their parents for months at a time. Mm-hmm. , you know, and forced into these boarding school programs. Um, so I wanted to go back really quickly. One thing you said stood out to me with the boarding schools, as you said, the deculturalization process. Can you tell me what that really means? Sure. So, um, when these, uh, these kids were moved to their new, to, uh, the boarding school, um, they weren't allowed to speak their language. Um, oftentimes they had their haircut, um, and they were, uh, dressed. You know, they were, they were stripped of their clothing and they were dressed in more, um, uh, you know, of the school's fatigues, whether you know, and, and if you look up, um, boarding school pictures, you'll start to see some side by side photos. Of what the child looked like when they arrived versus, uh, when they left. And, you know, and, and it's a stark contrast because, uh, language, you know, is one of your first things you learn as a kid, right? Um, so some of these kids that weren't allowed to speak their language, if they did, they were beaten, you know, they were tortured. Um, there are stories about kids getting their, uh, tongues pierced with Reed. Um, because they were speaking their language. And I can tell you, uh, personally, um, when I was younger, you know, in my early twenties, I had my tongue pierced, you know, and it was, you know, probably largely, uh, for a vanity, um, type of deal. But I will never forget the pain that, that I had for that. And that was just one professional piercing. And the pain that I had for days afterwards with my tongue swollen, the inability to eat food, um, inability to talk, you know, the discomfort that I had from that one single piercing. And the stories about native kids that were, had their tongues pierced involuntary, voluntarily, multiple times, and they were so young, you know, so little. You can imagine how much they would start to resent themselves. Mm-hmm. their language, who they were and question everything about themselves. Mm-hmm. . Um, and so these kids weren't allowed to speak with their peers that were, if they might have had a brother and sister at the school, if they did, um, they could get in a huge amount of trouble, um, and be a beaten star. Those types of things. And so it was really brutal, you know, for that to happen because that's a, that's not how you treat kids, but b, that's not how they would ever have been treated if they were at home with their family. Mm-hmm. , you know, So that part of, of stripping away the culture, everything, you know. Changes everybody, you know, changes the rules, change your day to day processes, change what you're being required to learn changes. Mm-hmm. . And then you have, you're in school for, you know, your semester, your three, four months, and maybe you get to go home, you know, you, you become very lost. You know, because when you get back, You've been away from that and you've almost been taught to hate that or to resent that. Mm-hmm. , it's hard to, you know, get back into the groove of that. Um, that it's a loving society. You know that your family loves you, they wanna protect you. Well then why are you sending me away to school? You know, why are you sending me to a place that does these things to me? And so it's really this, um, you know, a mental, uh, uh, you know, beat down, uh, that the kids would've experienced too. And that's, that's deculturalization, you know, that stripping away everything, um, you know, new have known as in, in inherently, you know, in your dna. And, um, trying to replace it and assimilate. Into something completely foreign. Let's fast forward to today. You talk about, um, ACEs like, um, adverse childhood experience. There are these, there's a new, uh, newer test that was developed and you can score, uh, based on, uh, you know, one to 10 in your questions based on your experience with these, Uh, you know, read the questions, yes or no, you get a point. If you, if you replaced some of those questions and applied them to, Indian country went through what natives went through with the boarding school era. It is highly a traumatic experience. And from that, ACEs have shown higher rates of unemployment, higher rates of health problems, higher rates of, of, of anything you can imagine joblessness, you know, of, uh, uh, you know, uh, uh, uh, alcoholism, you know, everything that is damaging to society. Are rated very high with those ACEs score, I think they would be mirrored. With a score from people that had attended boarding schools. And so then it's an intergenerational experience where it's not just that person, you know, because then that person goes and has a family and, and then they have, uh, more family members. And so it's intergenerational trauma. Mm-hmm. that gets passed down. And now that's, That's why we have this, a new generation now that's full of hope, you know? And there's full of resiliency that we still have and food reclamation, you know, And being able to say, You know, that's not our way. Our violence isn't our way. We're going to do this differently. Joshua also told me about the Indian Child Welfare Act, which was put in place in the 1970s to address an issue current to that time. So at the time, um, uh, tribal kids, native kids were being removed from their home by state social services agencies and placed with non-native foster families at a rate higher than any other, uh, race at the time. And part of it was, um, Part of it was due to, uh, largely, uh, you know, a bias, probably some apathy or prejudice towards native communities, you know? Uh, and so what Indian Child Welfare was designed to do was to protect the children from being removed from the home. Mm-hmm. , because, um, they might have been removed because, um, the living conditions and, and so the living conditions were, were maybe the best that the, the Indian family could do, but to the. Uh, SRS worker, DCF worker, um, they might have thought it was inferior, and so they removed them from the home. Mm-hmm. . Um, and so, you know, it was, um, you know, to protect the native family, the nucleus, to keep them together, um, or. If that child went out of the home because there was proven to be a neglect, abuse, or harm, maybe it goes to a relative me member. Mm-hmm. , maybe they go to a, um, a, a tribal member so it stays within the tribal community or it goes to another tribe. Uh, family Lyric said she thinks it's crazy. We don't talk about the boarding schools in the education system at all. It's such a big part of, you know, history that's just completely wiped away. Mm-hmm. , and now we're seeing all of these bodies being dug up of these small indigenous children and it's really emotional to think about how, I mean, these were done by Catholic priests and nus and so I just, I know it's not the whole religion's fault. But I can't think of a one good thing Catholicism has done for indigenous people. Yeah. And I know my family may disagree, the ones who are devout mm-hmm. , you know, but I just don't see a benefit to it. Yeah. How do you feel about that being in the news now and people learning about it now? I am personally happy. Um, I think it's really going to be something that people can't look away from. And as unfortunate as it is that it happened, I mean, it, it, it is the truth. And I think maybe people will realize that what it was like to be indigenous, um, in America mm-hmm. , because those schools, some of them didn't close till like the late 19 hundreds. Mm. And so I know that like maybe they weren't as bad as they were in like the 18 hundreds, but they still were not being treated properly. Mm-hmm. . It's really painful, I will say, to see all of these bodies of children being dug up. I mean, they would've been SaaS and they would've been elders, and yeah, maybe some of them would've passed away due to old age, but they didn't. They died at. 4, 6, 9, 11 in the most brutal way possible, their names were forgotten, their names weren't on tombstones, their bodies were thrown on top of each other and left to decay. Mm-hmm. , and people didn't know about it, and it's simply because they didn't want indigenous people to exist and mm-hmm. , it's something we are not taught about because I guarantee you, if we learned as children, Grown adults in the United States, your beloved priests and nuns and teachers were out here murdering young indigenous children by the thousands. it would have affected people way more than, And what do you think the impact of not learning about it is? I think it definitely leads to misinformation. Um, I think it leads to people not understanding why, um, we kind of face the issues that we do in terms of trauma, addiction, um, perpetuated cycles of abuse. I mean, that doesn't always happen, but. . In some cases it does, like, yes there are indigenous people that are thriving, but there are also indigenous people that are really hurt and traumatized by this. And, you know, cycles perpetuate. And I just think it's something that, you know, where there are survivors of residential schools and like they've perpetuated this trauma that they faced onto others. Mm-hmm. . So it's one thing, you know, to really think. About, I guess just like this endless cycle, and some people have broken the cycle. Of course, you know, some people have, but it's just one of those things where you never know what could have happened. Yeah. I mean, some of these children, if anything, could have changed the world. Could have shaped the world. I mean, people always say what one little Zago could have done? What could these indigenous children have done for everyone? Mm-hmm. . And I think the difference it could have made, I mean, Could have been grand. I mean, we could have had more language, um, restoration. We could have had more ceremonies and dancing and, you know, traditional medicines and things being passed down. We. Would've had way more indigenous people. I mean, I would argue that these children by the thousands, like maybe it may sound like kind of, I don't know, I guess a little twisted to think that they would've went on to have families, but like they could've and they would've. And so maybe it just would've increased to a growing population, like a stronger population of indigenous people. It's just, you never know. And I hope that this impact of people hearing about residential schools really makes them think that their American history is wrong and it leaves so much out. And there is so much more to learn because I really want people to start questioning what we're being taught and hopefully this massive, massive issue that we're seeing in the media is going to encourage people to rewrite some textbooks, rewrite their curriculum. Mm-hmm. , I don't know what, I just feel. ? Not really. I feel like, I mean, it's the way it is. Like our education system has a way of talking about something terrible that happened, but then acting like America stopped doing it at a certain year. So you talk about, well, slavery ended and then not talking about really how slavery actually was carried out in different ways or the civil rights movement happened. Mm-hmm. , there were still communities segregated. Yeah. After it was illegal. Mm-hmm. . Um, so I think that's just. and even, you know, it's just another example of that, but it's really sad. Um, and no, it definitely really is, and I think it just bothers me that a lot of this stuff is lost. Not only because it wasn't taught in schools, but. It is hidden by the Catholic Church who refuses to acknowledge it. And I know it sounds like I'm really going after the Catholic church here, but it's something, you know, that is extremely powerful, that has done so many, uh, injustices and like, has harmed indigenous people in so many way and refuses to acknowledge it. Mm-hmm. , I, um, one thing that I did wanna talk about, I forgot to, is, um, two Spirit people. Um, something that is within, uh, indigenous culture. Uh, people who body, both the masculine and feminine spirit can be used for, uh, trans q i a plus people. Um, and it's something that also was, uh, in my tribe, like known in my tribe. And now there are people, uh, within my tribe who don't support, um, LGBTQ people because it goes against the Bible. And so the thing is, It goes against the Bible, but it doesn't go against who we were before the Bible because we had two spirit people, right? So it's just like who, like who you have to, It makes you face this, um, part of your identity. You have to pick and choose who you are and what you think. Because if you truly think you're gonna go to hell for supporting these people or for supporting something that doesn't align with the Bible, then how can you truly. In the spirits and the spirit world. Yeah. Which makes it really hard because like I believe in the spirits and the spirit world. I know some of our traditions rely on the spirits and the spirit world. Yeah. But like that's supposed to be different from heaven, so what is it? You know? And that's where I feel like I've just kind of like had this thing where sometimes I feel guilty for not wanting to think of like heaven and say like the spirit world. Mm-hmm. . And you know, I feel. . It's it, but once again, I feel like that's something that is specific to me as a play person, because a lot of plains, uh, indigenous people have reclaimed that mm-hmm. and they talk about the great spirits and they talk about, you know, the, the spirit world and the spirits and what they believe in, who is traditional to their tribe, because they took it back as a form of reclamation. Because of the Trail of Cheers, because of mm-hmm. , all of these like mass, uh, issues of destruction that were put on their, people play blue. People haven't, I mean, I know we had the play Blue Revolt from Spanish rule, but we, we haven't. Revolted against the, the Catholic Ways. And I would say that one thing that I, um, do think is really important is that the Plains people have, because it's allowed them to reclaim their culture in a way that I feel like us as playable people haven't mm-hmm. And that's something that once again, you don't, you don't learn about. Yeah. I have some family members who identify as Two Spirit. I have some friends. Um, and for me, while I. Uh, for me, I'm bisexual and or queer. It's, it's something that makes me feel more accepted and, and more normal and it makes me really feel like, you know, the creator kind of knows what they were doing and I mm-hmm. in reference to the creator. I guess that would kind of be like God, but like, I feel like the term the is kind of more comfy and I think seeing people, um, from tribes. Where Two-Spirit just really made all the difference for me. Mm-hmm. . And I think that's something that indigenous children also really need to see. Not just lgbtq um, representation, but really that two spirit, because that embodiment feels different. It, it feels different because it just feels like, okay. It's, it's something else that is rooted in our culture and it's something that has another meaning and more comfort, and it's not another label that like a white person is putting on us. Right. I think just learning about different ideologies of different cultures. Of people living in our country is important because there's a lot of laws that are made based on Catholicism. Mm-hmm. , whether it was before same sex marriage was legal or now abortion, getting abortion is becoming illegal in more states. And that's based on Christianity and Catholicism. Yeah. Ideology. Um, and I just feel like if people were just aware that there's just different, I guess, ideologies, The way people live their life. Like I feel like there would be more understanding as to why maybe laws in our country shouldn't be in place. Cuz they go against maybe someone's religion. Yeah. Or someone's culture. Definitely. I definitely agree. Um, I feel like, I feel like that's a really important point you made there. I wanted to mention too was Catholicism, the effect it has on our country. I just remember always over and over growing up, learning about how we have freedom of religion. We've had freedom of religion in the constitutions. You know, the Constitution was written. But I think the reason we need that history in the context of before the Constitution, before Christopher Columbus, is that that has lasting effects. That just because a law is put in place, or something's written and a piece of paper, doesn't mean people are used to not forcing Catholicism on people or treating people a certain way. And I feel like we're still seeing that with just last week, um, this interview we did, we were talking about the book bands going on, um, and banning LGBTQ related books, like whether that goes away at some point, that's still enabling people to shun the LGBTQ community. And so that's all, that's just the note I wanted to make on Catholicism in general. I just think it's ironic that we were learn, you know, learning about it. Like America's the greatest country in the world. We have all this freedom, but at the same time we're not learning. All the ways that that was contradicted in our history. No, and you know, that is a very good point, and I'd like to just kind of add to that a little bit. Mm-hmm. , um, I love how, once again, we're supposed to have freedom of religion, but indigenous people were persecuted for their religion, literally after the Declaration of Independence was written. Mm. Um, I would still say even to now. Um, so it's something that's never went away. And yeah, we have freedom of religion in the Declaration of Independence. Um, and it's written that we are merciless Indian savages in there. So do we really have freedom of religion if you only view us as savages or viewed us as savages at the time? Mm-hmm. , when this was written, I, I highly doubt it because, quote, we weren't civilized enough, You. Harvard Law Review published a book review of Defend the Sacred Native American Religious Freedom Beyond the First Amendment by Michael d McNally, The Review by Kristen a Carpenter states indigenous peoples are not seeking to impose their religious beliefs or values on others. Rather they seek the space to recover and revitalize their own religions following hundreds of years of suppression. It also states, even though our country was ostensibly founded on a promise of religious freedom, it quite frequently denies that promise to American Indians in early 2021. For example, a federal district court denied temporary injunctive relief to Apache plaintiffs seeking to stop the federal government from transferring sacred lands to a foreign mining company. On the grounds that it would violate the First Amendment and RF RA among other laws. I'd like to pause reading here to state that RF RA is the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, which prohibits any official department or agency of the US from substantially burdening a person's exercise of religion. The review continues, although the federal government claims to own and manage the land as part of the Tonto National. The land is within Apache traditional territory and is arguably recognized as such. Under treaties. Critics of the court's establishment cases argue that religion should stay out of the public sphere. They perhaps do not realize that many indigenous sacred sites are now located on federal public lands because the United States took those sites from Indian tribes long ago, there is no private place for those religions to go. In my conversation with Joshua more generally speaking, he said one of the big things that we'll see going on with indigenous people in the US is recent Supreme Court decision. You gotta understand there is a huge tie between, um, Native peoples and the United States politically. You know, we're not just a race or an ethnicity. We have a political relationship with the federal government, and so it makes our, um, situation different than many other communities. So anytime a case rises through, um, the ju uh, judicial system and ends up at the Supreme Court level, it's pretty significant. Going back to what you're saying about trauma, I think it, I learned about trauma cause I took a childhood trauma course in college in my senior year, and every time I mentioned that, I wanna point out that I was privileged to have gone that far in college. That's not something everybody's learning about. Um, I think trauma in general is so important for people to learn about because I didn't know until that class. , it was, It's a cycle that it, mm-hmm. goes generation to generation. Learning about specific examples of how that continues, because Americans will very much look at groups of people and say, Well, if they're poor, you know, they're doing it to themselves. They could just do this like, , just learning about trauma in general could open up people's eyes to why people are in certain situations. Exactly. I, I really think that would help people understand that indigenous people, um, especially Plains natives, were pushed onto the worst land possible. Mm-hmm. . And even with like southwestern natives, I mean, we were pushed onto the worst land at times where crops were literally unable to kill us off. Mm-hmm. . So we literally never had a surplus. And if you know, you were. Privileged enough to know, or, you know, have been educated on this surplus is how we literally were able to, um, as a society, uh, kind of gain, um, other resources and then inherit wealth, um mm-hmm. and things like that. We were never able to have surplus. Right. Because we were just trying to survive at this point. Mm-hmm. , um, do you feel like if people knew more history of indigenous tribes, anything that we discussed today? indigenous people would be treated different in this country or that there would be, you know, not as many maybe misconceptions. I hope so. I really don't know. It's something that I wanna have a lot of faith in. I just really cannot picture that you, US education system, writing something comprehensive enough. Mm-hmm. to make a change. Mm. And I think you would have to have a lot of indigenous people on board, um, with writing a textbook or even a couple chapters of a textbook. Mm-hmm. . Cause I doubt it would be a whole year's lesson worth. Mm-hmm. . That would be great. But I, I really don't see that happening. Mm-hmm. , and I hate to sound so bleak about it, but I just really don't know if it would make a difference because I feel like people don't care. Yeah. Um, I do know a lot of people who say things like, indigenous people were, you know, they were a conquest. They lost like you are American. Get over it. And so I don't think anything will ever change that for those people. Mm-hmm. and, you know, I really hope. Maybe if they did learn that we have all of these different tribes and different cultures, people would stop asking, you know, what it, it's like for me, or, you know, what I think about something that's completely different. Mm-hmm. , um, you know, so it's one of those things where I, I hope for the best, but I'm not quite sure. I'd like to pause here to provide a trigger warning. This part of the conversation does get into details of sexual assault, violence, and abuse. One topic lyric brought up that has never talked about or taught is the epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women in America. More than four and five American Native and Alaskan native women have experienced violence and more than one and two have experienced sexual violence. Murder is a third leading cause of death for indigenous women who are murdered at a rate 10 times higher than all other ethnic. It's actually really crazy to think that like, yeah, I've had a great life. Um, you know, my mom and my grandma have all had a, a great life, but even with just us, um, we've all experienced some type of sexual violence. Mm-hmm. . So it's one of those things where we, I would say we are more privileged than most. Mm-hmm. , Um, still really difficult, I would say lives, but it. It's a really, really terrible thing indigenous women are facing. Mm-hmm. . Um, my mom's sister was actually murdered, um, due to gang violence, um, because, uh, on her reservation she, she was kind of just beaten, um, and she never really recovered and died from that. And it's one of those things where, Just violence against native women is so prominent and so strong, and it's done by officers off the reservation and officers on the reservation a lot. And just, just people in general. And it's really, really tragic to see and know that a lot of my family members and a lot of women in general, um, are, are going through this. And it's kind of something that's really unspoken and I feel like it doesn't really, um, get brought up when we talk about domestic violence or sexual violence ever. But it's something that indigenous women are taking, uh, really seriously. And it's something that I know that I'm really proud to see, like my brothers and sisters working on. So is that something that you often talk about when you meet other indigenous people or amongst your family? I would definitely say amongst my family, uh, yes, because. Sadly, I would say a surprising amount of people in my family have experienced, like, so I mean, the women in my family have experienced some type of, uh, domestic and or sexual abuse, um, whether we were children and unknowing or um, maybe even into adulthood. So I would say it's, it's really sad. Um, and it's something that I think has helped me personally process the abuse that I went through as a child. Um, it's something that I'm still kind of working out. I really don't know who it was. I just have vague memories. Um, my doctor and my therapist both think, um, it's something that I can work on with my family to kind of, uh, . I, I mean, just work through mm-hmm. and so like talking to my mom and like a similar thing happening to my n when she was little, It somehow has let me know that I might be able to have like a normal life and I might be able to. Be happy. Mm-hmm. . But like, it's also really sad because then my grandma's trying to relate to me and tell me that it's gonna be okay. But the sexual violence, like among indigenous women, like didn't leave her unscathed. Mm-hmm. either. The fact that she could relate to me mm-hmm. Actually makes me, like, wanna cry. And same with my mom. Mm-hmm. , I wish they didn't relate to me. Mm. So do you wanna talk about. How that's affected you just in your life as an adult? Yeah, so I, um, , it's really, um, Disgusting to see like the sexualization of indigenous women. I mean, we see it in costumes, we see it in people celebrating. We kind of see it in cartoons and things like that. I mean, even Pocahontas was sexualized. Um, I will say in my adulthood it's become like, I've seen it, um, become kind of like a fetish for a lot of men. Um, and I will say I have not, um, had this issue with women that I've been interested in. I mean, I will say, . It's, it's been primarily men who have hypersexualized me because I've been indigenous, have, um, like, have made comments to my boyfriend because, um, I'm indigenous. Uh, my boyfriend came home from work one day telling me how pissed he was because, um, he was talking about, uh, how I was indigenous to his coworkers because I was, uh, participating in, um, a tribal activity. And his coworker was like, Oh, I dated a Cherokee woman, and all she wanted to do. Have sex. And he was like, So I know you must be getting it. And he was like, It was disgusting. Yeah, it was actually, it was so foul. Mm-hmm. . And it's something that he was really pissed about, something I was really pissed about. And it's one of those things where like, he would've been risking his job if he were to act out, especially because he's an apprentice. So like, I just think it's one of those things where like, I mean, he didn't necessarily let it go, but I wouldn't have wanted it to go any farther. Right. And so, Even in general when it hasn't been, um, with my boyfriend, people have just sexualized me in general, saying that they've never been with an indigenous woman or that they want to be with an indigenous woman and like, Oh, your hair is so long and black. Like, you know, native women just have the most beautiful hair. I wanna pull it. And it's just like, why would you think that's okay to say to someone mm-hmm. . And then just thinking on top of that. But like, not only am I just a body, but like, I wonder. to whoever assaulted me when I was a child. If I was like just a body, then like if indigenous children are just, I mean, always sex, indigenous women are always sexualized. Mm-hmm. and I, I mean, I really think we are. Mm-hmm. . Um, and it's, it's really, really sad. Mm-hmm. , um, I will say even when, um, , we learn about indigenous women in history and when I learn about women in my tribe, I mean they were like raped by Conta doors and you know, indigenous women were raped throughout history and taken us slaves and sex slaves. So it's something that has never been able to really escape us. Mm-hmm. . Yeah, I think that just a take away I have just from listening to that and never hearing about that experience before, just gives a show that there's so many. Different things going on that, you know, you face that people of different backgrounds face that people like me who are white, like, don't see that, don't hear that ever. Mm-hmm . And I just feel like that's really important too, cuz I feel like. I mean, white people in general in our country like to think that they know everything that people are going through, but there's just so many things that we don't even see that you have to deal with just because of where you come from. Right. No, definitely. I, I definitely agree. As a grad student lyric spoke a little bit about if she still faces being the indigenous expert in the classroom. Now in, she like, I'm so grateful for this opportunity and you know, if anyone from NYU ever listens, like I really do love this program. I just wanna clarify, that's the name of your program? Yes. Science, Health and Environmental Reporting. Sherp . So I'm a she 40, which means I'm the 40th class, but I'm the first indigenous person graduating from this program. Um, in. 40 years. Wow. And so it's one of those things where even now, I feel like with some of my professors, like they don't necessarily ask me questions anymore, but I am the person who is bringing up like indigenous topics, like in science and in house. Right? Right. Because people aren't, and it's not necessarily because they don't care, but they don't know like I do. Mm-hmm. . And so it's one of those things where I feel like I will never escape the. What's the right word? Not necessarily ignorance, , but I will never, uh, I guess escape the lack of knowledge people have for indigenous people. And I will never be able to understand why I am the person that ends up being the one people go to. Mm-hmm. , I mean, I feel like. Because I'm outspoken, but it's just one of those things where like, okay, I, I feel like at this point you need to just kind of educate yourselves. I don't know. Yeah. Yeah. Do you feel like people's lack of know. Part of what drew you to being a journalist? I definitely think so, just because like, I am passionate about indigenous topics, as you know. Yeah. Um, so I really do want to tell more indigenous stories and people stories in general. And I think sharing, you know, these stories with people will really, really allow me to help kind of bridge that gap in education. Mm-hmm. to the best of my abilities. Mm-hmm. . So I, I think that's something that I'm really passionate about. Yeah. Well, one thing I hope that people take away from listening, Any part of this podcast is to just go look stuff up and teach yourself after you listen to all of this. Like, there can't be, there's just so many things to learn. Um, is there anything else that you want to mention just about history, education in the us? Um, I, I really think. That it is unfair and unbalanced, not just within, of course, um, indigenous culture, but as someone who's also black and bisexual. I feel like those topics are lacking in education as well, and I know you have other episodes about those, but it's something that I'm really excited that you're putting together because I think it's really, really important and. I'm running for this Indian world next year. So I think one of the things that I really want to talk about during my, um, running process and possibly rain if I'm elected, is the lack of, um, education on indigenous topics, Uh mm-hmm. in the US education system. Mm-hmm. . So hopefully, you know, um, if it's not this podcast, if it's not just this podcast that I'm able to make a difference with, it will be that as well. Yeah. That's awesome. Do you feel. , you know, being indigenous, black, bisexual, that depending on what space you're in, people like kind of label you as one of those things. Definitely, definitely, Definitely. I feel like in um, a lot of spaces. That's, I feel like, especially, I don't know, when I'm on my reservation, like I'm more indigenous, you know? Mm-hmm. and then, I mean, you know, at certain gatherings with like my black side of the family, I feel like, you know, that day like, you know, I'm more black , just, I really, it just really depends. Like I know I am who I am, but I feel like different facets of me. are kind of opened up in these spaces kind of based on people's expectations. Yeah. And I feel like I kind of code switched my personality. Mm-hmm. and it's not, So do you feel like you have a pressure to do that? Sometimes I do. Yeah, sometimes. I definitely do. Um, I think in academic situations I kind of try to go for my neutral at first until I figure out what the situation is like, and then I can just be, um, me freely. Right. But one thing, I mean, I can never hide, and I mean I don't want to hide it, is that I am a person of color. So regardless, I mean, that is always something that is going to kind of change my interactions on a day to day basis. Mm-hmm. . But if people, and I have been in situations where people have said ignorant things about indigenous people, and I'm like, Huh, you thought I was just black, but I'm indigenous and I'm gonna correct you as mm-hmm. to why you're wrong. So I think it's one of those things where, um, kind of. Uh, revealing different parts of my personality when I can. Yeah. Um, can be used in like a helpful way. Yeah. Do you feel like the way that, you know, we learn about different groups of people. For example, if we're learning about the history of black people in our country, if we're learning about the history of indigenous people in our country, that that has an effect of people think maybe they know these groups of people because of. Symbolic things that are put into our, like American history, education. Mm-hmm. , that, that kind of correlates into the way I guess people in America. Tell somebody who they are? Oh, I definitely think so. I definitely, definitely think so. Not just in terms of racism. I feel like a lot of people use that rhetoric, um, to be racist, but I think in general, uh, people have preconceived notions about your intelligence, about what you're able to achieve or who you are and where you came from based off of these, um, based off of these. Uh, yeah. Thanks. Yeah. Well, thank you for sharing everything that you did with us today. I, One thing I didn't wanna do, going into this was like making you be like a spokesperson of like, explaining these topics. Like I really just wanted you to share. Your personal experience. So I hope that that's, Yeah, no, definitely what you felt. Yeah, I didn't feel any pressure at all. It was really great. Okay, good. Um, do you wanna like plug your socials, I mean, you're working journalist Yeah. I wanna make sure people like, know where to find you if they wanna hire you for something. Oh my gosh, yeah, that would be great. So my Twitter is at Wonderland Lyric and then my Instagram is lyric nine seven. Three. Three. And then I'm on LinkedIn as Lyrica Aquino. And if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, you can email me, um, at aquino a q u i n o gmail.com or visit my website aquino.com. Awesome. Thank you. Thanks. Thanks for listening to this week's episode of Reconsider Everything. If you enjoyed the conversation today, subscribe for more episodes and lever review. I'm your host, Marissa Nichol. All sound design is done by Tim Perk. All music was composed by Alex Waki. And Cover Art was created by Olivia Nichol for this episode. The Cross-Cultural Design Class at Heron School of Art and Design created artwork specifically based on what we discussed today, which you can find featured on our social media handles in the description below, along with resources to continue your education. Join us every Tuesday for another episode.