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(Un)Erasing Native American Culture

Avis Charley
Avis Charley Art

Native Americans exerted their political power in the 2020 election. A record-breaking six Native-Americans were elected to Congress and Native American votes tipped the scales in Arizona - which went blue for only the second time in seventy years. And U.S. Representative Deb Haaland (D-NM) is on President-elect Biden's short list to be Secretary of the Interior. 

Native Americans made big gains in the 2020 election. Yet, Native Peoples are still largely invisible in American culture. Centuries of "colonialism" that separated Indigenous People from their families, their culture, and their land, led to intergenerational trauma from which they are still recovering. Yet, they remain resilient against continued attacks on their land and a trail of broken promises. 

Today, we look at the emerging power of Native Americans in the context of centuries of systemic racism and cultural erasure. 


  • Sara Sinclair is an oral historian of Cree-Ojibwa descent. She is the editor of the Voice of Witness oral history collection How We Go Home: Voices from Indigenous North America. Sara teaches in the Oral History Masters Program at Columbia University.
  • Robert Ornelas is T/ijua Apache. He worked at the New York City Ballet and as a substance abuse counselor
  • Tara Benally is of Hopi descent. Her family was raised by Navajo. She is a field director at Utah Rural Project

Join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter. 

Colin McEnroe and Cat Pastor contributed to this show. 

Betsy started as an intern at WNPR in 2011 after earning a Master's Degree in American and Museum Studies from Trinity College. She served as the Senior Producer for 'The Colin McEnroe Show' for several years before stepping down in 2021 and returning to her previous career as a registered nurse. She still produces shows with Colin and the team when her schedule allows.
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