I’ve been a fan of podcasts for quite some time, and am always excited to find a good one. It’s a way to learn, a form of entertainment while doing boring chores, and a helpful tool to get my kids to be quiet so I can focus on driving (you can find my podcasts recommendations for kids- and their grownups- here).
A good podcast will teach you something while telling a great story. The podcast Serial is famous for its incisive reporting that, in its first season, cracks open a case and gives you the evidence to sift through. In its third season, it exposes many of the systemic faults of our justice system that have recently been the subject of protests. Each episode is linked through by sharing the story these facts make up, by putting a face on a topic. I love Planet Money for a similar reason: I learn about a big, intimidating topic (economics, in this case) without feeling like I’m drowning in terms I don’t know. These narrators voices are familiar to me, and I appreciate their honest take on what they’re covering.
I recently heard of a new podcast titled This Land that sets the scene for the recent Supreme Court decision regarding Indian Country in the state of Oklahoma. Being a native Oklahoman and a Native American tribal citizen, I set out to hear just what this podcast had to say.
Wow. I was hooked within moments. When the narrator, Rebecca Nagle, introduces herself as a citizen of Cherokee Nation, I got chills. I’ve never heard someone proudly declare their tribal citizenship before. (FYI, if you ever meet a Native American tribal citizen, please don’t ask them their blood quantum or if they get casino money. Blood quantum is a shaming practice, as your reaction will tell the tribal citizen they are either too much or not enough Native American to qualify in your opinion. Also, it’s none of your business, neither for blood quantum nor casino cuts.)
Ms. Nagle thoughtfully reports on the murder trial that led this case to the Supreme Court, previous Supreme Court cases involving Native Americans, and the brutal 1839 murder of two Cherokee leaders. She masterfully shows how the past impacts the present, and how history is doomed to repeat itself if we don’t learn from it. She also covers the Trail of Tears, land allotment, and mistreatment of Native Americans by settlers and Presidents Jackson and Trump alike. She dives deeply into topics old and recent with equal grace and insight, offering a glimpse into the side of history our history books omitted. The result is an engrossing tale with a high stakes court case that was announced just last week.
I spent more than half my childhood in eastern Oklahoma, living on the land that is being disputed in the Supreme Court, land that impacts five tribes and 11 counties. my school put on a reenactment of the Oklahoma land run, which myself and other tribal students were made to participate in (despite the fact that my school knew of my Cherokee citizenship) and I didn’t learn that event involved stealing land from the already displaced tribes nor that 1 in 4 people died on the Trail of Tears until after I’d moved away from Oklahoma. (We also weren’t taught about the Tulsa race riots either, but that’s its own post).
I am only part Cherokee. But I am a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, and my dad regularly referenced our Cherokee heritage and taught us the few Cherokee words he knew. Hearing a podcast that tells the story of the Cherokee people specifically is incredibly meaningful. It’s another reminder that representation matters, regardless of how old you are.
Beyond my personal connection to it, these stories are well told. It’s the kind of podcast that as soon as an episode is over, you want to listen to the next one. This podcast is binge-worthy, factual, and told in the voice of one of the people most affected by the outcome. We need to hear these stories, whether we are tribal citizens or not. This is the history of our country, told in a riveting way.
*Trigger warning** There are some gruesome descriptions of the murders and heart wrenching descriptions of the removal, so be careful if listening around children or if you’re sensitive with these topics. There is a warning before one of the gruesome descriptions.
I highly recommend this podcast. It’s engrossing, educational, and deeply underscores the importance of the recent Supreme Court decision (though if you haven’t heard which way the court decided, I recommend listening to the podcast before finding out so you can experience the anxiety and unease, on a small scale, that these tribal members have been enduring for over a century).
I listen to This Land on Spotify. You can listen via this link, or wherever you get your podcasts:
You can also find all episodes on their website.
Interested in learning more about Oklahoma history and the state and federal government’s relationship with tribes? Killers of the Flower Moon is on my Goodreads Want to Read list and comes highly recommended.
If you’d like to learn more about the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, I recommend visiting their website.
If you’re a local reader in East Tennessee, I highly recommend theSequoyah Birthplace Museum.
The Museum of the Cherokee Indian in Cherokee, North Carolina, is also a wonderful place to visit to learn more about the Cherokee.