In Indian Country, what we need is inspiration. And inspiration is a natural resource, it’s something that humans create.Kunu Bearchum
Kunu Bearchum, (Northern Cheyenne/Ho Chunk nation) talks about how he found a way to express his experience as an indigenous person in the United States by applying the ethic of the warrior to his artistic practice.
Links to media mentioned in this episode.
Kunu’s video “So Precious” is embedded here, and you can see it on his website.
Stream and buy “Through the Battle Smoke” on Kunu’s bandcamp page.
In Volume One of More Devotedly, we’re thinking about this question—who belongs here?
Kunu Bearchum, (Northern Cheyenne/Ho Chunk nation) is a hip hop and video artist based in Portland, OR. We talked about how he found a way to express his experience as an indigenous person in the United States through music and video, by applying the ethic of the warrior to his artistic practice.
To Kunu, a warrior isn’t just a soldier. A warrior is someone who is of service to their community in whatever way they are able. We talk about the indigenous concept of the warrior and how it relates to a song Kunu has just released called “Through the Battle Smoke.”
We also talk about one of Kunu’s heroes, John Trudell, who was a leader of the American Indian Movement’s occupation of Alcatraz, the former island prison in the San Francisco bay, from 1969 to 1971.
This occupation achieved its most fundamental goal, to bring national and international attention to the discrimination that many native Americans were suffering from at the time. It set in motion a big shift in public opinion about native americans among non-indigenous people, but also gave momentum to a reawakening of pride in native culture among native Americans.
I don’t promote violent protest, but it’s important to understand that this kind of protest has a long history. Think back to the barricades in the streets of Paris during the French Revolution to see what I mean. More relevant to contemporary American politics are the right-wing protesters that occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 2016 who used the same tactic in service of a similar strategy. Though I don’t see those right wing activists as fitting this definition, occupations like this have been a tool that the powerless have used to assert their views throughout the history of human civilization.
Kunu’s song “Through the Battle Smoke” is a soundtrack to that struggle, and draws on his experience as a water protector at the Standing Rock protests. He steps in as an artist to give both an emotional and conceptual framework to that struggle, to show how we can think of and feel about these contemporary warriors. He touches both the eternal and the contemporary in the song, and that’s what inspired me to introduce his work to all of you.
Last, we talked about the representation of native people in government and in society more broadly. Shows of strength, like protest, or a display of artistic prowess, or just the quiet presence of native people doing their jobs, makes an important statement to young native people—that you can be a musician, a filmmaker, a doctor, or a member of congress.
Correction: In the interview, I incorrectly said that the two native American women elected to the House of Representatives in 2018, Sharice Davids (Ho Chunk) of Kansas and Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo) of New Mexico, were the first ever native Americans in congress. In fact, they are the first Native women to serve in Congress, though it’s still a remarkable achievement. Sorry for the mistake.
This episode was produced by me, Douglas Detrick, in Portland, OR. I couldn’t have done any of this without help from my wife Jenny, and from my partner in projects, Kim Gumbel. Lindsy Jordan Kretchun created the More Devotedly logo. I composed the introduction and interstitial music. The other music you heard was by my guest, Kunu Bearchum, and by my super talented kids.
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This is a full transcript of the episode edited for accuracy to the best of our ability.
[00:00:00] Kunu: [00:00:00] So my name is Kunu Bearchum. I’m a Performing Artist based in Portland, Oregon. I’m Northern Cheyenne and Ho-Chunk Nation. Those are my tribal identities and connections, but I’m also German. My mom was born and raised in Berlin, Germany. So through that I have dual citizenship. I’ve been learning to try to introduce myself in that way. I see these like elder native folks that you know, they like say I’m from here and I’m from there and these are my connections. So.
[00:00:32]Doug: [00:00:32] So that’s something that you’ve been kind of cultivating.
[00:00:35] Kunu: [00:00:35] Yeah, and it’s something that I you know, I’ve seen my whole life the old schoolers, you know, the elders who introduced themselves, they like introduced their mother’s side, their father’s side, their Clans. A lot of the times they would introduce themselves in their language and then after that was done, They would introduce themselves in English. I have a friend who works in Seattle who’s also [00:01:00] Northern Cheyenne and I’ve been like hitting them up on like a man. Like how do you introduce yourself again? Like what was the what was the wording? you know, I feel like I’m stepping into that realm, you know as like, a man that’s getting older and like wanting to get you know connected to my roots. Like I feel like that is a really important aspect of indigenous culture.
[00:01:21]Doug: [00:01:21] you told me about how you had performed at a school and you had your son with you like in a sling, right? So you’re yeah 18 months old is your son…
[00:01:30]Kunu: [00:01:30] It’s so cool to like see like a little human being and just be like you’re half of me and half of her and that’s really cool and like this universe existed without you and now it exists with you and you’re going to make your mark, and whatever you do. It’s going to be so amazing.
[00:01:46]Doug: [00:01:46] congratulations. I’m really happy for you.
[00:01:48] Kunu: [00:01:48] Yep. Yep. Shout out to ASA sky and Shoshanna Holman. That’s uh, baby mama mother of my child, my wifey, [00:02:00] super amazing partner, and then our baby Asa Sky. Shout out!I. How did you become an artist? [00:02:06]
[00:02:06]Doug: [00:02:06] Let’s start talking bit about your tell about your music and also you do video production as well. So could you kind of just give us a overview of kind of the things that you do and then just tell me about how you got where you are now.
[00:02:19] Kunu: [00:02:19] Yeah. All right, so I was always an extroverted little kid, and it’s like when my mom would go out shopping like I’d be chopping it up with like whoever like, you know, the butcher the cashier like, my mom was like. Where the hell’d you learn this from like I didn’t teach you how to like just go and do this. And so like I felt like I was always an extrovert growing up and then, just being so amazed by storytelling. You know, like I had traditional storytelling in my life as a kid, but then when I saw it like visually and started watching awesome movies. The whole time I was like thinking I was like, like this is super dope, but there’s a cameraman and there’s like [00:03:00] there’s like a boom operator. So yeah, I mean, I was just always into entertaining. Creating storylines and then knowing that one day this is what I wanted to do.
[00:03:10] Doug: [00:03:10] Hmm.
[00:03:10] Kunu: [00:03:10] But then to kind of fast forward a bit when I was in Middle School, was in this really cool place. I was Northern New Mexico. I mean it was like, you know, you would call like a quote-unquote ghetto school, you know underserved population. like was lucky enough to have a really supportive family around me. But this is just where I went to school. There was a lot of suicide, you know gang violence in middle school, which is insane for me to think about right now, There was a lot of depression and poverty.
[00:03:41]so the Santa Fe Community College came out to our school and did this after school program where they you know, just put like kind of like a sign-up sheet. Like do you want to do a PSA against drugs and alcohol in and like the classic stuff, you know teen pregnancy, [00:04:00] suicide, which was really big in our community at that time. There were several kids that passed away by their own doing you know, and that’s just all out of hopelessness.
[00:04:08] But out of all of that I was able to get into this after-school program. And we you know, like wrote a script we like made music like it was really really bad music and like a funny little you know, Skit that we wrote up but that was my first taste of that. I forget what program that was, but shout out to them for changing a lot of people’s lives in a good way and then now fast forward, you know, 17 years later like I’m doing the same thing here in Portland, you know, like I’m working for, you know Suicide Prevention programs for Indian country. I have a multimedia internship I do every summer and it just feels great, you know, like, to kind of complete that Circle and then now I can like hopefully Inspire other kids to get on that path [00:05:00] of like you’re the writer and director of your own movie. And that’s like mind-blowing to people like they like they wait what like so I can wake up and decide how my life goes from this point. Say real quick a big shout out to my buddy Rolando Crenshaw. It was like a very important time in my life in my early 20s when I was having some sort of meeting with people and my buddy Rolando was like boom, he said that to me like after the meeting right and I was just like thank you, thank you for the reminder. you know like
[00:05:33]Hip-Hop Music [00:05:33]
[00:05:33]Doug: [00:05:35] So how did you come to hip hop music?
[00:05:36]Kunu: [00:05:36] Hip-hop, I mean really man is as long as I can remember has always been a part of my life and it’s been mostly because of my uncle Raul he raised me while my mom was working and going to school and he was in high school. So there’s my mom’s youngest brother. He was in high school and then you know would watch me after school. Like My earliest memories are [00:06:00] of my uncle Raul you know, he had like his boom box and his tapes and I mean CDs were like not even like a thing yet. I just remember like all it was was like early 90s hip-hop, reggae Santana was in the mix, Earth Wind and Fire like, you know, just like party jams.
[00:06:17] also my uncle Raul is also the founder of this hip-hop group, and it’s called burial ground society. And it’s this idea of us as like indigenous creatives , looking back to our ancestors through our burial grounds and our burial mounds learning from the past. And then like we are the vehicle that uses it and then creates, our own perspective of it, so bgs burial ground Society. That’s that’s what my uncle started with a bunch of us. And you know, I mean, it’s always been that like really from the very first beginning was like his hip-hop tapes.
[00:06:55]Heroes: John Trudell and Winona Laduke [00:06:55]
[00:06:55] you know, we all have so many different Heroes and [00:07:00] influences and the the two that I had thought of was John trudell and Winona Laduke. So first of all, John trudell, he was a part the American Indian movement. I was always really inspired by John trudell because what I believed his main purpose, you know, like maybe even like from a higher spiritual, perspective was being like the poet of the movement. even though a lot of these leaders were very educated and very well spoken and you know, they knew their personal tribal histories, they knew American history, they knew dates of treaties and you know, like, tribal law, you know politics and all that. But the one thing that stood out about John trudell was he was like a Wordsmith, you know, he was a poet like he knew how to like put words together that just like cut to your soul and like inspired you.
[00:08:00] [00:08:00] So and his music, you know, this music is amazing and and I have like a connection to John trudell , the American Indian movement through one of my grandma’s my gagas Judy Buffalo she you know lived with us when I was you know, a very young child and I remember seeing her in like, footage from the 70s, you know, like Super 8 camera footage, at you know, these occupations of Alcatraz and Wounded Knee and are you know these different places where she was at and I was like I was able to see her there and see like, all right. That’s what a revolutionary is. Like, that’s my grandma, you know, but then also know that she was really good friends with, you know, both John trudell and Winona Laduke, you know, like these people that I consider, you know heroes of mine for what they did for indigenous people the United States. the one thing about John trudell though was that you know, he was a [00:09:00] poet, he was a Wordsmith and for me I was like, that is power to be able to you know, not only give you the facts about something and be like that’s what it is. To do it and then also be like just so poetic and cool and smooth about it.
[00:09:20] Doug: [00:09:20] most white Americans at that time. it was very late 60s that kind of started like 1968 or so and looking at that, you know, it’s threatening. Right?
[00:09:30] Kunu: [00:09:30] I mean like you’re like wait. I thought you guys were dead!
[00:09:33] Doug: [00:09:33] Why complicate things with? Yeah, reason is threatening is because there’s a lot of anger and the anger is very Justified. those two things, you know together that anger and this drive to kind of right these injustices– having a poet involved in that can be so
[00:09:53] Kunu: [00:09:53] it’s huge. I mean that I mean that is the most threatening thing. Like I mean because you can like [00:10:00] say as someone who doesn’t want to hear about someone’s struggle if they’re giving you like numbers and dates and facts like you can easily just be like whatever like yeah, whatever that happened. But if someone’s like giving you words and and and addressing it in a way like where they have a tone and a style kind of like lools you in like, oh that sounds cool. Oh shit. Now I’m being educated. God damn it, you know like I mean that’s dangerous.
[00:10:27] Doug: [00:10:27] Yeah. those are not just enemies. These are people that I have something in common with.
[00:10:32] Kunu: [00:10:32] It’s like damn it. I humanized them now that that I’m enjoying their art form.
[00:10:37]II. “Through the Battle Smoke” and The Warrior [00:10:37]
[00:10:37] talk about a song that you just released. Its called through the battle smoke. one thing that comes across really clearly is imagery of a warrior. So what does it mean to be a warrior as an artist?
[00:10:48] I’ve imagined myself as a warrior before I even imagined myself as an artist. there are several ceremonies that I was raised in and my very first [00:11:00] teachings as like a little boy that could walk around and carry things was like help with what’s happening help with the process, you know, like if there’s a fire that needs to be made if you can’t chop the wood, you can like carry the wood over there. And these ceremonies also there’s always a lot of people involved. So there’s a lot of community. So there’s also meals that are being prepped, and then there’s dishes that are being washed and there’s this whole Community process that happens. So like growing up, It was like if you can help out go and help out.
[00:11:35] To me that is the concept of a warrior, someone who is helping the community. In the English translation , you know a brave, you know was translated to war to battle because that’s what the European colonizers saw was as we’re taking your land, It’s the men who are fighting for the land. You know, of course the women and you know, the elders are [00:12:00] fighting as well, but like the physical battles are happening with you know, the young men who are of age to go out and fight. So that is like the English translation to what a warrior is, but I feel like the indigenous concept is someone who’s just of service to the community. And so that was my concept of warrior before I even became an artist. To put artist on top of that as I feel like how I am, using my art to serve my community.
[00:12:28] that’s an interesting idea because as white Americans were looking Westward,
[00:12:31] Doug: [00:12:31] Yeah,
[00:12:31] Kunu: [00:12:31] we’re looking back until like the 1860s but they were very much trying to say these Indians are just Savages. They’re just bloodthirsty, everyone will be better off when they are off the land and either dead or in reservations. And it takes away all those other parts of that humanity, right?
[00:12:53] Yeah. I mean I’ll everyone ever learned in public school was that last moment when it’s like you’re pushing me and you’re [00:13:00] pushing me and you’re pushing me and you’re stepping on my vegetables and you know, like yo, like get the fuck off my vegetables. You’re plowing over my field, this has been in my family for generations and you don’t care about my vegetables some have to kill you for my vegetables.
[00:13:16]Doug: [00:13:16] It’s not enough to think of a warrior as just a soldier, right, so much more is happening there. kind of reminds me of another song of yours called So Precious and I would love you to tell me a little bit about it. if you go to kunubearchum.com, there’s a beautiful video because you made both the music and the video, right?
[00:13:35]Kunu: [00:13:35] So for the video, I created the treatment and the concept and then my good friend Leron Catia. He he shot it, he directed it, and I basically just gave him, you know the ideas and then just let him run with it. And then it was also produced by Isaac Trimble who these are both native filmmakers based here in Portland, [00:14:00] and they do amazing work and they’re busy all the time and it’s been really cool to just kind of grow with them.
[00:14:07]Doug: [00:14:07] so the song is called so precious tell us what is so precious.
[00:14:12] Kunu: [00:14:12] I mean life like it’s kind of amazing that we’re just here in these like meat bags with bones inside of them and we have a brain and we you know, like we have vocal cords and we can like and I’m like going to go on like a DMT it trip, you know, but no, I mean it’s really amazing.
[00:14:32] And then especially, you know after you know becoming a father. And seeing that and seeing my partner become pregnant and be like, holy crap. You are a portal to the spirit world like a spirit just came out of your body. Like, you know, you hold the Stargate. Yeah within you, you know, like and you know, like so just like just kind of sitting back and being like [00:15:00] wow life is super amazing and precious and delicate.
[00:15:05]My dad used to say like human beings are like frogs. like our skin does breathe like frogs, you know, we ingest our atmosphere. Like, oh, we’re just humans and we rule the Earth and blah blah blah and you know pollute everything. It doesn’t matter. It’s like no like if you stand in that pollution for a week, you’re going to get cancer . you know, we’re part of everything.
[00:15:23] Yeah. I think that making a piece
[00:15:24] Yeah. I think that making
[00:15:24] Doug: [00:15:24] a piece like that y like that knou’ve w,kind of Taken on that poet role again. you’re kind of bringing all those things together like, this can all disappear, you know, we can all get sick, we can get hit by a car, right?
[00:15:37]Kunu: [00:15:37] It’s a song about death, you know, it’s a song about life but it’s a song about death, you know. It was spurred on by my brother-in-law getting killed in a hit-and-run a few years ago. You know His Spirit, you know in the way I believe is still here and his Human Experience here on the planet was amazing. He was the best guys [00:16:00] ever is names Shiloh. He was doing amazing work in Africa andknow, he was also like a cowboy. He was like, he was a Cattleman. He was an Oregon Backcountry guy, but he was also like this, you know, like just super, sweet loving human being and people said he was like Ferdinand the bowl. that song the writing process was spurred on by his passing and just all of the sadness. So this was my partner Shoshanna’s younger brother, and I was like, how do I honor you know, this brother’s life? Well, I’m going to write about him But then also, you know, like my dad was murdered when I was a little boy when I was two and a half and recently several young Native Brothers here in Portland where murdered on some ridiculous stuff where it was like these are good human beings that don’t deserve to die. And it’s like, why does that happen?
[00:16:57] I’m alive still I can make an impact. [00:17:00] So what I’m going to do is, you know, keep the memories alive of my loved ones that have passed and hopefully make an impact that’s positive for the future. I’ve gotten some really amazing feedback from people who listen to and watch that music video and you know like to me, I mean like that’s like the most meaningful thing like if nothing else happens in my you know, air quotes music career and I was like cool like I got one of those that was awesome like, you know, like, that song helped me through my grief. is
[00:17:38]Doug: [00:17:38] I’m
[00:17:38] Kunu: [00:17:38] sorry to hear about that, but the song is beautiful, and
[00:17:41] Doug: [00:17:41] music has played a role in music is played a role in similar role in my life as well. You know, my my mom died of cancer a few years ago. And very similar like it took a while, but when I finally kind of came back to trying to do something creative, I wrote a whole bunch of [00:18:00] you know, like about one for her, like one for her one for my dad one for my kids one for my wife.
[00:18:05] Kunu: [00:18:05] Oh wow,
[00:18:06] Doug: [00:18:06] and you so would like and that was really it was healing. I mean, I just like man, you know, you have to make something good out of. Out of this and so I went through a similar process.
[00:18:18] going back to that idea of what the Warriors role is then.
[00:18:22] Kunu: [00:18:22] mmm.
[00:18:24] Doug: [00:18:24] that you know, it seems perfectly a part of it right? To anyone who’s hearing it. Here’s how you can heal.
[00:18:32] Kunu: [00:18:32] Yeah and to add to that which would you saying like that that kind of definition of what a warrior is or could be or what I think it is, that was your service to your family was writing those songs, you know, like it was a service to your grief as well, but it was like done in service.
[00:18:53]Doug: [00:18:55] YIII. Kunu and Doug talk politics [00:18:55] ou know, I think it’s really important that we that we do talk about, you know, what the [00:19:00] levers of Power are in our society. the way we do that is through politics, you know. How do you see artists as being involved as change makers in our culture?
[00:19:09]Kunu: [00:19:09] Yeah. I mean the first thing I’ll say is any politician whether you like them or not they have a song that they play every time they get on a stage. You know, that’s our power as musicians, you know, like we give them validity based on the stuff that we write and then we have the option to say hell no, I don’t want you to play my song or yeah, I’ll take your money. You can play my song like, you know, like so I mean just that in general like that is a power Dynamic that should be discussed like, you know before they get on and do their whatever they do. They have a song that they play
[00:19:46] Doug: [00:19:46] naked almost like they’re naked coming on stage without it.
[00:19:50] Kunu: [00:19:50] right? Yeah.
[00:19:51] Doug: [00:19:51] like we give them clothes to wear. yeah, that’s I mean, that’s so true and it’s such a like a like so
[00:19:59] Kunu: [00:19:59] people [00:20:00] forget that it’s like, you know, it’s like we Prime the crowd for them. is something that people forget.
[00:20:07] I mean I can only speak for myself and I’m I’m super engaged in politics. Maybe not like on like a level of like, going in volunteering for a politician, but I always, you know, stay up on Local politics World Politics as much as I can and to me it’s just interesting, you know, it gives me inspiration to write stuff.
[00:20:29]I mean, we we have like the most diverse political class that we’ve ever had in the United States and it comes in a time where it’s the most needed. And to be perfectly blunt, it has been this agenda of keeping things comfortable for the landowning white man that has paved Over America like [00:21:00] that is what our political system is set up as. The views of people from the non-dominant culture are more needed now than ever I think in this time we’re in this climate crisis, you know, we’re needing to know how to live with the environment and understand the concept that we are the environment.
[00:21:22] there were millions of people that lived on this continent before contact. They got along pretty well with nature because they understood that they were nature. we have to get back to that and I feel like the women are the ones that I know that the most because they’re the life creators, you know, the life givers. you know, I feel like just to answer that question about politics, you know, all these women women of color women of different backgrounds and just specifically more women those up, seats of power is super important and crucial.
[00:21:59]Doug: [00:21:59] you [00:22:00] mentioned that most diverse Freshman Class in the Congress right now. and so I believe there are two Native American members of Congress now. They’re the first ones ever, Mmm. which is amazing. I mean, it’s great news. It’s all it’s also terrible news that that it’s taken so long, here we are and at least it’s happened. you mentioned already that you feel having more women involved in government is a hugely positive thing. Do you think that it’s a sign of things things that are changing?
[00:22:34] Kunu: [00:22:34] I mean, yeah for sure, you know, it’s really symbolically awesome. And they I think they had like the dopest picture where they were all just like posted up like all those remedies see that I think they were all like him like white suits or something. That was badass. I’ll buy that album sure. No, but I God I don’t want to go into another tangent but in Indian Country, I feel like I just learned this recently is [00:23:00] what we need is inspiration. And inspiration is a natural resource and it’s something that humans create. I don’t think like elk create inspiration for others. I mean, maybe they do I just don’t know that you know, I don’t you know like but I feel like that’s something that’s really specific to human beings. Like we can create inspiration for other human beings and that inspiration, that well of inspiration, you know was you know taken away from Indian country. and I recently learned this from super awesome native Elder and Olympian Billy Mills. we need inspiration and like that’s his whole thing is to give inspiration to Native Youth and then for them to go back to their communities and then be creators of inspiration because we won’t do anything if we’re not inspired. We’ll just sit around and wait to die. In saying that that’s what they represent, you know.
[00:23:57] Doug: [00:23:57] Yeah. [00:24:00] It’s yet another example of how important representation can be. it was never a problem for me growing up as a young white male to see white male adults in positions of power. That was
[00:24:13] Kunu: [00:24:13] you can be an astronaut you could be president be firemen.
[00:24:19] Doug: [00:24:19] Never problem I think that diverse representation of seeing. people that don’t look like you in positions of power and doing great things and doing things that are inspiring is important as much for you know, a young white person growing up here as it is for anyone else. I can certainly say that yes, I think for a young Native person growing up seeing native adults out in the world doing important work and doing inspirational work is incredibly important and particularly important, you know, but I think that also, you know, I would have to say that if there’s a place where people can come together, right, and music has been that for me, you know, the [00:25:00] Arts been that for me where you know, I think that if I hadn’t had that in my life, I’d be much you know, just, living in a smaller world. And so seeing all those women in Congress is really important for me too you know, and I you know, so it’s like I celebrate that too I’m very excited about that and I want to see more and I want to see it continue and so so I don’t know I think I think we sometimes. say representation is only important for for brown people. You know and that’s not true. It’s no yeah, for sure.
[00:25:32] Kunu: [00:25:32] Yeah, that’s awesome that you’re telling me that and I can you know, I can now take that with me, you know your experience that you shared because you know, I think that is really important to like, I think should be just as inspiring, and I hope it is and if it isn’t you’re just drinking haterade.
[00:25:54]Doug: [00:25:54] I mean there’s that magic you see when there are different people in the room. and I’ve seen this over and over and over again in the [00:26:00] Arts, you know, that you just can’t get that otherwise. Final thoughts [00:26:04] let’s try to connect this idea of that importance of representation to role of an artist an artist Warrior that we’ve kind of been talking about.
[00:26:12] Kunu: [00:26:12] And yeah. Well, you know, I just also want to start that you know these closing Thoughts with saying a big thank you to fish Martinez AKA 28 the native who we work together with and I was introduced to you through fish. So, I saw fish rap when I was like a kid kid like, you know, like and heard about him as like this rapper with braids and i didn’t even think that I could be a rapper if I wanted to be a rapper until you know, like I saw fish doing that. You know when he was like in his early 20s, and I was like, you know. Seven or something, you know, I mean, sorry, I’m not trying to date you fish. Butit was that like I saw that and I was like whoa, like this is guy’s [00:27:00] rapping. he’s on stage, he’s like dancing around like tribal style. He’s got braids. I have braids you know, because that’s a big thing for Indian boys having braids is you know, like oh that’s a girl like, you know, and that’s that’s something that you know sticks through for a lot. So like I think that’s also a big reason why native guys keep their braids as they become men, you know, it’s like yo man fool like, you know, like and I got cool-ass braids, you know, so.
[00:27:29] Just to see him gave me, like I can do that, you know, and so that’s really I think been my main mission through being, you know, a filmmaker and a musician and just someone who wants to create media and understanding the importance of media and branding and marketing. want to be able to myself and then through other people that I that I can find that are doing awesome things in you know, Indian Country indigenous. Find promote their [00:28:00] work their music. Their art.
[00:28:02] I recently got connected with OHSU. OHSU has a whole department that is geared towards finding native folks throughout the United States and I haven’t they Canada Mexico like indigenous folks and bringing them to OHSU and bringing them into their medical school and having them become doctors and whoever they want to be and it’s called the Northwest Center for Native American excellence. And so I connected through them with them through Doctor Who runs that he’s a. He’s a clothing designer on the side there companies called canoe but you know, it’s all about representation. And so like I’m just trying to do my part for Indian Country for Native youth younger than me to either show them that you can be a musician or a filmmaker or if not that, you know [00:29:00] connect them to you can be a doctor you could be you know, whatever, you know, so it’s like all about representations so so so much and so. Yeah, I mean, I think that is my mission as of now is just promote that as much as I can, you know. Finding native folks that are doing awesome things and and elevating them.
[00:29:22]Doug: [00:29:22] So I mean You’ve talked it specifically about Native Youth. How do you help them feel like they have somewhere that they belong to through that process?
[00:29:31]Kunu: [00:29:31] I mean representation, you know that I think that’s the first part. Is seeing a possibility of yourself and you know saying like now like there’s a neural pathway like oh my God, I didn’t think I could be a doctor. But now that I see a doctor that looks like me now I can okay. What do I have to do? Boom? I gotta do this. I gotta do that dude. Now I’m a doctor.
[00:29:51] And just like creating that kind of train of thought solidifies the idea of [00:30:00] belonging in American society specifically for native people because the idea of us belonging here, I think for our grandparents for sure and then our great-grandparents was they were scrubbed of that idea like you don’t belong here unless you become American and forget your your native ways.
[00:30:22]Because of the youth culture and because of Twitter and Instagram and all of these different I mean and there’s so many other social media sites that like I sound like old and Viking like like like like you don’t know about this, you know about that. So whatever because of these social media sites what I noticed going to these youth conferences and working with them is they have decided that they belong without our help like you know, which is awesome. They belong to their own online societies already. That was the that was the point that I was trying to get to is like I’m washed, I’m old I got, you know, I’m trying to figure it out [00:31:00] right now.
[00:31:01] Doug: [00:31:01] that’s amazing. That’s super encouraging.
[00:31:03]Kunu: [00:31:03] So I got to learn about that. You know, like if there’s any youth listening to this tell me about how I connect I need to belong man.
[00:31:16] Doug: [00:31:16] Yeah teach Papa
[00:31:16] Kunu Well Kunu
[00:31:17] that was super fun?
[00:31:19] It’s been really fun to get to know your work better and to talk about all the stories behind it and thanks so much.
[00:31:25] Kunu: [00:31:25] Dude. Thank you Douglas thanks for having