The idea for a Native American-focused educational tour came to us from our previous Nation travelers, people who had joined us on our Civil Rights program. They asked us if we could, working with tribal leaders, create a thoughtful, respectful, and stimulating program that would begin to look at some of the current community initiatives, energetic activist work, legal challenges and cultural engagement of Native peoples in the U.S. A journey where we could hear firsthand from the community about their past struggles, their current lives and their aspirations for the future.
Our goal for this program is to listen and to learn: to hear directly from Native Americans without the questionable filters of history writers, mainstream media representations, even well-intentioned progressive journalists. We reached out to tribal leaders and learned that many in the community are anxious to be heard, to challenge misconceptions, and to share their good work and promising programs.
Our itinerary focuses on just a few geographical areas: the Dakotas, Colorado, and New Mexico, where we hope to gain insight into important aspects of the Sioux, Hidatsa, Mandan, Lakota, Dakota, Ute, Navajo, Apache and Kiowa Nations.
It’s a rich nine-day program that just begins to scratch the surface of these complex cultures. We’ll travel through dramatic Western landscapes peppered with rich historical sites as we meet with community and tribal leaders, story-tellers, artists, musicians and activists – focusing on listening to what they want to tell us, on understanding their hopes for the future, and facing the shameful legacy of the U.S.’s brutal history of eradication and oppression. We hope to have the privilege of hearing singular voices that have been silenced for too long.
- Join a pre-trip conference call with reporter and editor of High Country News tribal affairs desk, Tristan Ahtone, who will lead a discussion about the topics we’ll address on the program. Tristan will provide a recommended readings list and has chosen a group of essential Native American-made films that we will screen on our bus trips.
- Visit the Standing Rock Reservation and meet with Ladonna Brave Bull Allard, a former historic preservation coordinator for the tribe.
- Listen to musician, Sequoia Crosswhite, a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux and descendent of Chief of War Eagle and Chief Swift Cloud.
- Travel to Kyle, South Dakota, stopping at the innovative and inspiring Thunder Valley Community Center to meet with local leaders, including Julian Bear Runner (pending availability), who recently became President of one of the largest tribes in the nation, the Oglala Lakota Sioux.
- Meet with Scott Davis, Executive Director of the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission, who serves as a cabinet level liaison between North Dakota’s state and tribal governments.
- Talk to former North Dakota U.S. Attorney Tim Purdon who is managing lawsuits filed by four out of the five North Dakota tribal nations against 24 opioid manufacturers and distributors (pending availability).
- See the art of Joe Pulliam Buffalo Dreamer, whose work is in the permanent collection of the National Museum of the American Indian, and meet the artist.
- In Boulder meet with staff at the Native American Rights Fund, who provide legal assistance to tribes, organizations and individuals who might not otherwise have representation.
- See the itinerary for complete details.
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