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Dear White Women

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 provided.

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 country.

Show Highlights:

  • 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 people. 
  • 78% of Americans know little to nothing about Native Peoples. 
  • 72% of Americans rarely or never encounter information about Native People in this society where we’re constantly inundated with information.
  • 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 Wounded Knee.
  • 27 states do not even mention Native Americans in their curriculum.
  • 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 Pawnee Nation.
  • “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 non-Native people.
  • Traditional Native American dress is modest, but the Halloween industry pushes the myth of Native American women as being scantily-clad.
  • 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 businesses.
  • Crystal brings us up to date on some significant current events.
  • 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 issues.
  • 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:



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Recommended Companion Podcast

Halloween and Cultural Appropriation - Episode 29

Connect with Crystal!

IllumiNative on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter: @_IllumiNatives

Follow us on Instagram: _illuminatives

Suggested News Site:

Indian Country Today - A news organization covering American Indians and Alaska Natives

Suggested Podcasts:

All My Relations with Adrienne Keene and Matika Wilbur

While Indigenous with Sarah Sunshine Manning

Suggested Links:

IllumiNative Launches Native Now Youth Campaign

Dior Perfume Ad Featuring Johnny Depp Criticized Over Native American Tropes

Join the Campaign!! Be IllumiNative!

Join the Movement! Meet the Youth of Native Now!


IllumiNative’s Collaboration Video with Native Hip Hop Artists Mag 7 and Taboo from the Black Eyed Peas