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Native Circles

Author: Dr. Farina King & Sarah Newcomb

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This podcast features "Native History Nerds" who emphasize that Native American and Indigenous histories and stories need to be taught and learned by everyone, not only in North America but also throughout the world. The primary hosts and founders of Native Circles are Dr. Farina King (Diné) and Sarah Newcomb (Tsimshian), who were inspired to start this podcast to educate wider publics about the interconnections and significance of Native American, Alaska Native, and Indigenous experiences and matters. Dr. King is the Horizon Chair of Native American Ecology and Culture and an associate professor of Native American Studies at the University of Oklahoma. Based in Dallas, Texas, Newcomb works as a freelance editor, writer, and blogger with degrees in English and a focus in Non-Fiction Creative Writing. Learn more about the podcast and episodes on the official website of "Native Circles" at
23 Episodes
This episode features Dr. Elizabeth Rule and her work with Indigenous DC and guides to Native Lands. She discusses the myth of invisibility surrounding Native American contributions to the history of Washington DC and how it can and should be addressed. Washington, DC, is Native land, but Indigenous peoples are often left out of the national narrative. To redress this myth of invisibility, Dr. Rule's book Indigenous DC highlights the Indigenous people and sites that have been important to the history of Washington, DC and the United States more broadly. Inspired by American University professor Elizabeth Rule’s award-winning public history mobile app and decolonizing mapping project, Guide to Indigenous DC, her book is a valuable resource that traces the centrality of Native peoples to the history of the United States.For more information about Dr. Rule's work and the app, please see articles from the Washington Post, Smithsonian Magazine, and WAMU. Dr. Rule has been interviewed on Matter of Fact with Soledad O'Brien, Code Switch, Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness, and more. Details about her book, Indigenous DC: Native Peoples and the Nation's Capital (Georgetown University Press, 2023), can be found at Also, check out the Guide to Indigenous Lands: A Digital Mapping Project and Elizabeth Rule's website for more resources and information.
Sasha Maria Suarez shares her thoughts and research with us about expanding what Native activism looks like. Suarez is a direct descendant of the White Earth Nation of Ojibwe and is the second generation from her family to be born and raised as an urban Ojibwe in Minneapolis. She is an assistant professor of history and American Indian Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her work focuses on Ojibwe gender history, Indigenous social movements, and urban Indigenous history. She is currently working on her first book tentatively titled, "Making a Home in the City: White Earth Ojibwe Women and Community Organizing in Twentieth Century Minneapolis."Recommended Sources:Sasha Maria Suarez, “Indigenizing Minneapolis: Building American Indian Community Infrastructure in the Mid-Twentieth Century,” in Indian Cities: Histories of Indigenous Urbanism, eds. Kent Blansett, Cathleen D. Cahill, and Andrew Needham (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2022).Heartland History podcast episode (of the Midwestern History Association) featuring Dr. Sasha Maria Suarez (2022).Sasha Maria Suarez, "At The Falls: An Urban Ojibwe Story Of Minneapolis Placemaking," The Metropole (the official blog of the Urban History Association), May 2022."Indigenous Activism: Past & Present," Presented by UW-Madison American Indian Studies Faculty including Matt Villeneuve, Jen Rose Smith, Sasha Maria Suarez, and Kasey Keeler (2022).
Listen to a conversation with Meredith McCoy and Matthew Villeneuve about historical and current strategies that Indigenous people used to repurpose the educational systems for Indigenous well-being. In this episode, we are also joined by a student audience Q&A. Meredith McCoy is an Assistant Professor of American Studies and History at Carleton College. She is of Turtle Mountain Ojibwe descent, and her father, David McCoy, is an enrolled Turtle Mountain citizen. Meredith's research examines how Indigenous families, educators, and community leaders have long repurposed tools of settler colonial educational violence into tools for Indigenous life. Her first book, a history of Indigenous strategizing in federal education funding and policy, is currently under contract with the University of Nebraska Press. Matt Villeneuve (Turtle Mountain Chippewa descent) is Assistant Professor of U.S. History and American Indian Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he teaches courses in American Indian History, Native education, and environmental history. His research focuses on Native histories of education and schooling. His current book project, "Instrumental Indians: John Dewey and the Problem of the Frontier, 1884-1959," is an intellectual history of America’s most prominent philosopher of education and democracy and his relationship to the anti-democratic nature of federal Indian schooling.Recommended Sources:Meredith L. McCoy and Matthew Villeneuve, "Reconceiving Schooling: Centering Indigenous Experimentation in Indian Education History," History of Education Quarterly 60, no. 4 (November 2020): 487-519."Publications and Digital Projects," Dr. Meredith McCoy website,"Publications," Matt Villeneuve website, McCoy's conversation with Roy Taylor on KFAI's IndigeneityRisingMcCoy's Op-Ed in The Hechinger Report
This episode features the series editors, Farina King, Kiara Vigil, and Tai Edwards, of a new university press series related to Native American Studies. The University Press of Kansas is launching The Lyda Conley Series on Trailblazing Indigenous Futures, which King, Vigil, and Edwards highlight. This is one of the first press series named after a Native American woman.Lyda Conley’s life and experiences are inspirational as one of the first Native American women known to argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court, which she did in defense of her Indigenous ancestors and people. Her case was also one of the first in which “a plaintiff argued that the burying grounds of Native Americans were entitled to federal protection.” One of Farina King’s students, Sarah (Wood) Fite James, brought Lyda Conley to Farina’s attention in her class research project, which the Museum of Native American History features on its website.Please contact UPK senior editor David Congdon if you have any questions about the series and want to submit a proposal: release posted on October 6, 2022 A video presentation about Lyda Conley by Sarah (Wood) Fite JamesBio of Tai EdwardsKansas Studies Institute webpage: Lyda Conley Series on Trailblazing Indigenous Futures webpage: Recording of the 29 March 2022 conversation with Sarah Deer, Kiara Vigil, Farina King, and Tai Edwards about the Kansas Open Books with Open Access Publishing and the Future of Native and Indigenous Studies: April 2022 article of "The Iⁿ‘zhúje‘waxóbe/Sacred Red Rock Project Receives Mellon Monuments Grant":
Ryan Lee highlights his current work with the American Indian Programs and Services (AIPS) and the American Indian Student Association (AISA) at the University of Oklahoma (OU) as well as his excitement for contributing to the available events and his hopes for future growth. Ryan also shares his early journey of growing up both in and beyond the Navajo Nation, including his experiences at Diné College and what led him to the path he is on. Ryan serves as the Coordinator for AIPS at OU. In this role, he serves as the primary advisor for AISA. Ryan is a citizen of the Navajo Nation. He is a graduate of Diné College, the first tribally controlled and accredited collegiate institution in the United States, where he received a Bachelor of Business Administration.Resources:American Indian Student Association at the University of Oklahoma OU American Indian Programs and Services 
Crystal Lepscier talks about how the history of education and racism tied to historically government sanctioned assimilation and similar genocidal practices ties into our traumas and experiences within the institution that is 'school.' This is profound when we think about Racial Battle Fatigue. This term explains the physiological and psychological harm that is a result of long term microaggressions, racism, and intergenerational trauma. This term carries a weight that, when confronted, has the potential to also help us open the doors to understanding and healing, which sets us on a better path to our human selves. Lepscier is an enrolled citizen of the Little Shell Chippewa Tribe and a first line descendant of Menominee and Stockbridge-Munsee communities. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art and a Master of Science in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis (ELPA) from the University of Wisconsin - Madison. She currently works at the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay (UWGB) as the First Nations Student Success Coordinator, supporting all Indigenous students at the institution. Lepscier recently completed her Ed.D. in the First Nations Education Doctorate (FNED) program at UWGB, where she focused her dissertation work on combating Racial Battle Fatigue in the Indigenous student population in higher education.Learn more about the First Nations Education Ed.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.See also Dan Ninham, “‘Learning is a Lifelong Journey’: Four Indigenous Educators in Wisconsin are the first in the nation with a new doctorate in First Nations Education,” Indian Country Today, July 12, 2022.Frank Vaisvilas, “The first doctors of Indigenous education have graduated from UW-Green Bay. Here’s what they plan to do next,” Green Bay Press-Gazette, May 24, 2022.
Ernestine Berry shares parts of her journey seeking the history of her people, the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokees, and on becoming the founding Director of the UKB John Hair Cultural Center and Museum (JHCCM). Ernestine was pivotal in the establishment of the JHCCM in 2011, which is dedicated to sharing Keetoowah culture and history with the Keetoowah community and the public. She earned a master’s degree in education administration from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, and a master’s degree in museum studies from the University of Oklahoma. Berry focuses on researching and sharing tribal history and culture, growing the tribal archives, and helping revitalize the Keetoowah language. On this episode we are also joined by guest co-host, Evelyn Castro Cox. Evelyn is CHamoru (also known as Chamorro), born on the beautiful island of Guåhan (Guam – island territory of the United States) and now lives in Oklahoma.  You can learn more about her at Additional Resources:John Hair Cultural Center and Museum - Nations Center at University of Oklahoma - with Sheila Bird (Podcast) -
Teagan Dreyer shares with us her personal experiences and research of Native identity and self-determination within reclaimed boarding schools. Teagan is a citizen of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma in her second year of the History PhD program at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma. She studies the experiences of Native American students in federal and tribally-run boarding schools post-World War II. In her research Teagan has focused on the experiences of students in Oklahoma but is also concerned with schools around the country. This research has led Teagan to study the implications of changing federal policies on boarding schools and tribal self-determination through education. Additional Resources:Chilocco Indian School History Project through Oklahoma State University - novel on Chilocco Indian School - Indian School Documentary - Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition - Indian School Project - Home: Diné Creative Works from the Intermountain Indian School co-authored by Farina King, Michael P. Taylor, and James R. Swensen -
Dr. Michael Kaulana Ing shares with us Kanaka/Hawaiian philosophy as well as what it means to be Kanaka/Hawaiian living away from Hawai'i. He also shares his experiences and knowledge with Philosophy and Religious studies and the need for Indigenous thinking in Philosophy Departments.Michael Kaulana Ing was raised by the ʻāina (land) of Mānoa on the island of Oʻahu. He currently resides on the land of the Miami, Delaware, Potawatomi, and Shawnee where he is a professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Indiana University. He completed his PhD in 2011 at Harvard University, where he studied Chinese thought. More recently, he has been working on ʻike Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian thought) and bringing it into conversation with other philosophical traditions.Resources:Information about Dr. Michael Ing and his publications can be found on his faculty page at Indiana University here: Michael Ing's article, "Ka Hulikanaka a me Ka Hoʻokūʻonoʻono: Davida Malo and Richard Armstrong on Being Human and Living Well" can be found in the Journal of World Philosophies here: learn more about Kanaka/Hawaiian culture, language and stories please visit
Jennifer Frazee shares her experiences with teaching history and living history, as well as why it is important to continue for future generations. Jennifer pursued a degree in history to be able to care for the histories of her families, and then she found a calling to preserve the histories of others as well. She graduated with a Masters in American Studies at Northeastern State University and worked on the educational and living history programming at Hunter's Home in Park Hill before taking the position of director at the Fort Gibson Oklahoma Historic Site in 2021.We are also joined by a guest co-host, Rachael Cassidy. Rachael is an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History at the University of New Mexico. Her public history background includes developing original educational programming in consultation with Indigenous community members for the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington D.C., and for the American Indian Area at the Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site in Colorado Springs, CO. Her dissertation researches the social history of Native residents of Washington, D.C., tracing Indigenous  Washingtonians from the 1830s through the 1960s and celebrating their diverse stories and contributions. Her work demonstrates that Native people have had a consistent presence in the U.S. capital city based on kinship networks and community service. Additionally, Rachael is also involved in oral history, educational film production, publishing and editorial work.Resources:American Association of State and Local History - Gibson Historic Site -'s Home - Books:An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-OrtizLink: Click HereSilencing the Past by Michel-Rolph TrouillotLink: Click Here
Join us as we speak with Dr. John Little, a Standing Rock Dakota, about his research, work, and various projects, which support Native Americans. Dr. John Little is currently the Director of Native Recruitment and Alumni Engagement at the University of South Dakota. He earned his Ph.D. in History at the University of Minnesota. His dissertation is titled, "Vietnam Akíčita: Lakota And Dakota Military Tradition In The Twentieth Century," which examines Native American Vietnam War veteran and military experiences. He has taught in Native American Studies, Leadership and Sustainability, and History. He has also developed a variety of student success and retention programs and developed national and statewide recruitment networks for students. He was a past director of the Indian University of North America, a Native American college readiness program for high school graduates at the Crazy Horse Memorial in the Black Hills of South Dakota. His interests are broad but include history, Native student success and retention, leadership, education, Native Studies, Lakota and Dakota language, and film. He has co-directed a feature length award winning film, titled More Than A Word, and several other short pieces. His film work has supported the movement to change the name of the Washington national football team mascot, emphasizing issues about Native American-themed mascots and cultural appropriation.More Than a Word (2017, directed by Kenn Little and John Little) official website: John Little's "SpeakOut" Profile with more details and information:
This episode features a conversation about San Carlos Apache history with Dr. Marcus Macktima, a San Carlos Apache scholar. He received a BA in History with a minor in Native American Studies in 2015; and his MA in Native American Studies in 2018 at the University of Oklahoma. Marcus received his doctoral degree in History at the University of Oklahoma in 2023. His dissertation is titled, “Issues of Forced Political Identities: The San Carlos Apache Peoples.” In 2022, he accepted a position at Northern Arizona University as a pre/post-doctoral fellow.Look for his chapter, “Sacred Space and Identity: The Fight for Chi’chil Biłdagoteel (Oak Flat) and the History of the San Carlos Apachean Peoples,” in The North American West in the Twenty-First Century (November 2022) edited by Brenden W. Rensink.
At the time of this conversation, Dr. Bridget Groat was an assistant professor in the Native American and Indigenous Studies and history departments at Fort Lewis College. She is originally from Naknek, Alaska, which is a village located in the Bristol Bay region. She is Inupiaq, Alutiiq, Yup'ik, and Dena'ina. Her research focuses on salmon, Alaska Natives, food sovereignty, land and water, environmental history, Indigenous women, and Indigenous people. She earned her doctoral degree in History at Arizona State University. Her dissertation is titled, "The Changing Tides of Bristol Bay: Salmon, Sovereignty, and Bristol Bay Natives" (2019). In 2022, she started a position as the Director of Native American and Indigenous Studies at the University of Wyoming. Resources and ways to support:United Tribes of Bristol Bay - www.utbb.comPatagonia - www.patagonia.comTrout Unlimited -
Dr. Candessa Tehee is a Cherokee Nation citizen from the Locust, Tehee, Pumpkin, and McLemore families who earned her Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Oklahoma. She is also an accomplished artist who was recognized as a Cherokee National Treasure for fingerweaving in 2019. She previously served as the Executive Director of the Cherokee Heritage Center and the Manager of the Cherokee Language Program, and she worked in the Office of Curriculum and Instruction at the Cherokee Nation Immersion Charter School. She joined the faculty of Northeastern State University (NSU) in Fall 2016 as a professor in the Department of Cherokee and Indigenous Studies. She has served as the Coordinator for the Cherokee Cultural Studies and Cherokee Education degree programs, and she is the Chair of the Department of Cherokee and Indigenous Studies at NSU. In 2021, she was elected as the District 2 Tribal Councilor of the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council.See Candessa Tehee, "ᎪᎩ ᎤᏗᏞᎩ ᏗᏛᎪᏗ ᎾᏂᏪᏍᎬ ᎶᎶ: You can hear locusts in the heat of the summer," in Allotment Stories: Indigenous Land Relations under Settler Siege (2021) edited by Daniel Heath Justice and Jean M. O'Brien. Find the book at the following link:
Samuel Villarreal Catanach is from and grew up in P'osuwaegeh Owingeh (the Pueblo of Pojoaque). He serves as the director of the Pueblo of Pojoaque's Tewa Language Department. Samuel's goal is to give back to his community while continually defining and strengthening his identity and role as a Pueblo person. In this episode he shares his passion and personal experiences with language revitalization within the process of decolonization, why it matters for all Indigenous peoples to learn and use our languages and histories, the challenges within the field of language revitalization, and some uplifting observations that he has had during his time in this line of work.Resources: First Peoples’ Cultural Council –  Where Are Your Keys – whereareyourkeys.orgThe Language Warrior's Manifesto: How to Keep Our Languages Alive No Matter the Odds by Anton TreuerHow to Keep Your Language Alive: A Commonsense Approach to One-on-One Language Learning by Leanne Hinton, Matt Vera, and Nancy SteeleThe Routledge Handbook of Language Revitalization by Leanne Hinton (Editor), Leena Huss (Editor), and Gerald Roche (Editor)Becoming Fluent: How Cognitive Science Can Help Adults Learn a Foreign Language by Richard Roberts and Roger Kreuz.
In this episode, we speak with Dr. Davina Two Bears, a  Diné (Navajo) scholar from Diné Bikéyah (Navajo land) of Northern Arizona. Two Bears is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Postdoctoral Fellow at Swarthmore College. She shares with us her knowledge and research of the Old Leupp Boarding school, a federal American Indian boarding school on the Navajo reservation. She emphasizes the survivance and resistance of Diné youth and people.Dr. Two Bears has volunteered as a DJ playing Native American traditional and contemporary music, which you can learn more about at can watch some of Dr. Two Bears's presentations via the following links:"Shimásání Dóó Shicheii Bi’ólta’ - My Grandmother’s and Grandfather’s School," Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA, posted September 3, 2020."Researching My Heritage Diné Navajo Survivance / The Old Leupp Boarding School with Davina Two Bears," School for Advanced Research, November 6, 2019.
In this episode, we feature the book Returning Home: Diné Creative Works from the Intermountain Indian School.  We speak with the authors Dr. Farina King, Dr. Michael P. Taylor, and Dr. James Swensen, who share their thoughts and experiences from working on the book and with the Diné (Navajo) people. Returning Home works to recover the lived experiences of Native American boarding school students through creative works, student oral histories, and scholarly collaboration. The book reveals a longing for cultural connection and demonstrates cultural resilience. Despite the initial Intermountain Indian School agenda to send Diné students away and permanently relocate them elsewhere, Diné student artists and writers returned home through their creative works by evoking senses of Diné Bikéyah (Navajo land) and the kinship that defined home for them.You can order the book through the University of Arizona Press at Here are some recent related stories:Sierra Alvarez, “No More Silence: Boarding School Survivor Anita Yellowhair Shares Her Story, Over 60 Years Later,” Cronkite News, May 8, 2023.Jon Reed's article, "Native activists hope for probe of Utah boarding school," AP, August 14, 2021."‘Some Lost Their Lives, Some Found Their Lives’: Remembering The Intermountain Indian School," KUER 90.1, August 6, 2021.
Historian Midge Dellinger is a Muscogee citizen and oral historian for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. At the core of her work as an Indigenous historian, Midge advocates for an authentic remembrance of Indigenous ancestors.  Her work focuses on the need for a revised and expanded rendering of America’s long-standing hegemonic narrative concerning Indigenous and U.S. histories. Midge is currently engaged in projects that shed light on the disconnects between Indigenous histories/peoples and public memory. She wrote her thesis about the Battle of Honey Springs (1863) in Indian Territory during the Civil War. She earned her MA in American Studies at Northeastern State University.Reference links include: "Names to faces: Uncovering The University of Tulsa's Indigenous history" (April 2021),"Muscogee (Creek) Nation National Library and Archives receives grant" (January 2021)
Alaina E. Roberts discusses the intersection of Black and Native American life from the Civil War to the modern day. She talks about her personal family history, Black and Native history in the West, slavery in the Five Tribes (the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Cherokee, Creek, and Seminole Nations), and her book - I’ve Been Here All the While: Black Freedom on Native Land. Alaina E. Roberts is an award-winning historian currently working as Assistant Professor of History at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Roberts holds a Doctorate in History from Indiana University and a Bachelor of Arts in History, with honors, from the University of California, Santa Barbara.Links to resources:
Samantha Benn-Duke, PhD, has been a public educator for more than 30 years, serving 17 of those years in public classrooms and 7 years as an administrator. She was named the 2017 Oklahoma Indian Educator of the Year by the Oklahoma Council for Indian Education. She also served as the president of the Oklahoma Council for Indian Education and was the first Gaylord-McCasland Teacher Fellow for the Oklahoma Hall of Fame Museum. Samantha’s research and passion include advocating for Native American and other minority children and more effectively meeting their learning needs. In this episode, she discusses her research with Native American women educators in Oklahoma, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. See this Cherokee Phoenix article (2017) featuring Dr. Benn-Duke titled, "Benn-Duke named 2017 Oklahoma Indian Educator of the Year." You can also watch this hyperlinked short video (2020) highlighting Dr. Benn-Duke for her Teacher Fellowship through the Oklahoma Hall of Fame.
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