Oct 23, 2019
Sara and Misasha are so excited to bring you a conversation with
Crystal Echohawk on today’s podcast. Crystal is an advocate for
Native American culture and respect and has a passion for building
understanding and getting to know others. This episode is a perfect
companion piece to Episode 29, Halloween and Cultural
Appropriation, so if you missed that, please go check out the link
Crystal is a member of the Kitkehahki Band of the Pawnee Nation
of Oklahoma, a mom, and Executive Director of IllumiNative, a
national, native-led, non-profit organization born out of the
“Reclaiming Native Truth Project“, a research project from
2016-2018, and was the largest public opinion research project ever
conducted about native people.
The focus on this project was based on the desire to educate
Americans and transform relationships so that Native Americans are
respected, included, and seen as a vital fabric of this
- The public opinion research project, “Reclaiming Native Truth
Project” focused on the following questions: 1) What do Americans
really think about Native Peoples, and why is that? 2) How does
that manifest itself in terms of the ways that we are treated and
the way institutions treat us? and 3) How can we map this
information, understand it, and change the narrative?
- The heart-wrenching results of the project were the perception
that Native Americans did not exist; they were an invisible
- 78% of Americans know little to nothing about Native
- 72% of Americans rarely or never encounter information about
Native People in this society where we’re constantly inundated with
- 87% of schools in the United States don’t teach about Native
Peoples beyond 1900.
- When asked an insensitive question such as, “Do you still live
in teepees?”, Crystal has begun to understand that the person
asking the question is not necessarily trying to be hurtful or
racist, as the last data point most people have for Native
Americans is from learning in elementary school about the 1890s
- 27 states do not even mention Native Americans in their
- Representation in TV and film is between 0 - .04% of all
representation. Within that sliver, the Native American is often
shown in a stereotypical fashion. i.e. magical, mystical Indian,
drunks, or savages.
- One study found that when you type the words “Native American”
in a search engine, 95% of those images that come up are pre-1900,
and are almost always men.
- This invisibility and erasure of the Native American culture
creates bias and fuels racism.
- There are 573 independent, sovereign nations within this
country. Schools fail to teach this. Each nation has its own
language, its own customs and cultures, and systems of government
and elected officials.
- Crystal shares with us some of her favorite traditions of the
- “Native American”, “American Indian”, and “Native Peoples” are
all terms that are preferred over the word “Indian”.
- Sara and Crystal discuss Christopher Columbus, Thanksgiving,
etc. from the Native American perspective.
- Native Peoples have made incredible contributions in this
country going all the way back to the Constitution, to introducing
the incredible foods that make up the American diet, to doctors,
scientists, professional athletes and others who are out there
doing incredible things.
- Misasha and Crystal review the issue of sports, redface and the
“tomahawk chop”. Some people think that this may be a way of
honoring Native Americans, but to the majority of Native Americans,
it is offensive.
- “Indian” Halloween costumes are hurtful and tend to be an
over-sexualization of Native women, who face the highest rates of
sexual assault, rape, and murder. There are over 5,700 missing and
murdered Indigenous women in this country.
- In a recent survey, more than 90% of the women said that they
had been sexually assaulted. Two-thirds of the perpetrators are
- Traditional Native American dress is modest, but the Halloween
industry pushes the myth of Native American women as being
- If you would like to truly honor Native Americans, Crystal
suggests doing something around Joy Harjo, the first Native
American poet laureate for the United States, or Wes Studi, a
Cherokee actor and the first Native American in history to receive
an Oscar on October 27th.
- Ryan Helsley is a young Cardinals pitcher and an amazing
athlete who played the Braves a few weeks ago. Right before the
game, he told the media that the tomahawk chop was deeply
insulting, for which he received a lot of criticism. He put his
career on the line by standing up for what was right. The Atlanta
Braves did take him seriously and they didn’t do the tomahawk chop
the next time he was on the mound.
- Vote with your dollars: supporting Native American owned
- Crystal brings us up to date on some significant current
- The power of social media has been a game-changer in the
industries of fashion, media, and entertainment, in that it allows
us to organize within minutes and protest against important
- There are more than 5 million Native Americans in the US. Take
a moment to google and learn about who the traditional Native
Peoples in your area were.
Resources / Links:
Like us on Facebook!
Recommended Companion Podcast
Halloween and Cultural Appropriation
- Episode 29
Connect with Crystal!
Follow us on Twitter: @_IllumiNatives
Follow us on Instagram: _illuminatives
Suggested News Site:
Country Today - A news organization covering American Indians
and Alaska Natives
Relations with Adrienne Keene and Matika Wilbur
Indigenous with Sarah Sunshine Manning
IllumiNative Launches Native Now Youth Campaign
Dior Perfume Ad Featuring Johnny Depp Criticized Over Native
Campaign!! Be IllumiNative!
Movement! Meet the Youth of Native Now!
MUST SEE Video:
Collaboration Video with Native Hip Hop Artists Mag 7 and Taboo
from the Black Eyed Peas