May 18, 2023

Land Back with Breana McCullough

Breana McCullough joins Britt for an illuminating conversation about the need and opportunity to have real relationships rooted in the present with Indigenous peoples, how we can make amends for the land and labor many of our ancestors stole from Indigenous peoples, rematriation, the Land Back movement, as well as the concept of Hungry Listening. But most importantly they discuss all sorts of ways we can practice loving kindness in the face of cognitive dissonance, bigotry, and bias.

Join us on this wild ride, as we delve into the tough stuff and plumb the depths of our souls. You won’t want to miss it!

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Breana McCullough 

Suggestions for further learning: 

“Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer: 

“Hungry Listening: Resonant Theory for Indigenous Sound Studies” by Dylan Robinson: 

“Living the Spirit, A Gay American Indian Anthology, Compiled by Gay American Indians” edited by Will Roscoe: 

“Indigenous Continent” by Pekka Hamalainen: 

“Native Seattle” by Coll Thrush: 

“Decolonization is not a Metaphor” by Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang: 

“Heart Berries” by Terese Marie Mailhot: 

The Heartbeat Music Project:

Real Rent Duwamish: 

Jonathan Beal 

Britt East


Jonathan[00:00:02] Welcome to Not Going Quietly the podcast where we inspire growth, beat down biases and get into all sorts of good trouble with co-hosts Jonathan Beale and Britt East.


Britt[00:00:11] No topic is off limits as we explore ways to help everyone leap into life with a greater sense of clarity, passion, purpose and joy.


Jonathan[00:00:19] So get ready to join us in courageous conversation because not going quietly starts right now.


Britt[00:00:30] Welcome to Not Going Quietly the podcast for outraged optimists and heartbroken healers all over the world where we surface life searing truth in the name of radical togetherness. My name is Britt East, and unfortunately, my co-host is still on sabbatical. So it's just me tonight. But you're in luck. I have an absolutely amazing featured guest for you that I just can't wait for you to meet. I've been looking forward to this episode for so long. So without further ado, let me introduce you to Breana McCullough. I'm actually going to read you her bio so you can understand a little bit about her background. Breana McCullough is a Karuk, baroque and modern violist from Bozeman, Montana. McCullough started her career at a young age and has since performed with various ensembles, including the Sinfonia Spiritual SA, the I-90 collective, The Battle Creek Symphony, Carpe Diem String Quartet and others. She began a master's degree in historical performance at Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, but has since started a graduate degree in ethnomusicology at the University of California, Los Angeles. As a fully funded Coto Robles Fellowship recipient, her research focuses on indigenous representation and early music, as well as Karuk epistemological and cultural practices. She currently sits as a co-chair in the Idea Task Force that's in concert with an acronym IDEA, Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access for Early Music America, and is a student representative in the Indigenous Music Section for the Society of Ethnomusicology. McCullough currently resides in Los Angeles, California. Breana, welcome to the podcast. How are you tonight?


Breana[00:02:18] Thanks so much. I'm doing well. It's good to see you again and I'm really excited for our conversation. [Karuk greeting] I said hello, all my friends. My name name's Brianna McCullough. I'm in Los Angeles right now, which are the traditional territories of the Tongva and Gasolina Tribes. I'm a career person and I am currently learning the Karuk language thanks to the guidance of some of my relatives and elders. So it's good to be here with you.


Britt[00:03:03] Thanks, Breana. You know, that is so cool. I really appreciate you gifting with us with that because I so rarely get the opportunity to take the opportunity to hear Indigenous languages. You know, I've been doing a lot of reading and stuff, but it's so easy to make it a theoretical conceptual experience as opposed to meeting real people, having real relationships, and, you know, just hearing the sounds, not knowing any of the words. It's really beautiful and really cool. And I really appreciate that.


Breana[00:03:39] Yeah. It's been quite a journey.


Britt[00:03:40] Yeah. And, you know, I want to frame this conversation we're about to have because the topic is so important and, you know, just starting off stipulating for the conversation that Indigenous people have, for all intents and purposes, always been here On what some people now are calling Turtle Island, others called North America. I recently I was sharing this in a previous podcast episode with another Indigenous person that I had recently read some that some scientists have dated, some native artifacts to being 23,000 years old. I mean, just think about that. The US government is less than 300 years old. If you've read much about in Native history the Iroquois Confederate Confederation of Nations itself, it was like from the 15th to the 18th century. So 23,000 years, I think it's literally beyond the scope of the human imagination. And that's just what they've dated. I mean, there could be all sorts of stuff that is yet to be found, or to be dated. So it's just we might as well say that indigenous people have always been here and just acknowledge that out of the gate, you know, some of the indigenous nations likely have lasted a lot longer than the US has and maybe that has not been introduced to our history yet as white people in the US where we are recording. But it could be part of other histories that we just haven't discovered yet, you know? So if you think about all that, the US is just kind of a little blip of time and this grand scheme of constantly shifting migrations, wars, or the risings and falls of all sorts of nations from all sorts of different people, and we get so hung up, so caught up into our current experience. And this specific government, which is really just a specific moment in time. And that's all to say that I want to acknowledge always. But of course, for the purposes of this conversation that all of what we're calling the US and Canada exist on stolen and unceded land. That invaders, settlers and colonies acquired it by force as part of a purposeful, genocidal campaign to eradicate people, language, culture in order to expand markets and consolidate power to feed their capitalist economies. And while not all of us living on the land are direct descendants from the original invaders, many of us benefit in all sorts of ways from that genocide, many of which we will likely never even understand. So it's I really I want to start from the listener perspective for the audience perspective that we start this conversation with a beginner's mind, a beginner's mind, a place of not knowing. The one thing we know is that we do not know. We have that open and receptive mind. So with that all of that preamble, Breana, I'm hoping that you can correct anything. Maybe I've gotten wrong, share anything you would like about your Native Nation and your story.


Breana[00:07:11] Yeah. Yeah. First and foremost. Yeah. I think, you know, you bringing out this scientific proof that has only contributed to backing the claims that various indigenous nations have made for so long. Right. We always say that we've been here since time immemorial. Our creation stories across the entire United States and into Canada back those claims up as well. Our stories, our teachings, maybe all are different stories, but they all come from the same place that we originated here and that we have a special connection to the land, which is why a place based knowledge is such an important part of reclaiming and revitalizing our identities and our connection with our peoples culture and broader nations at large. And when I say nations, I mean all living things. I mean the plants, the rocks, the streams, everything. It's unfortunately a very complex process to the history that's happened that we do have to revitalize in new ways and as well as in old ways. And another thing is to make sure that we don't only allocate indigenous peoples to the past, but that we are contemporary peoples too, who hold such complex, beautiful, amazing identities that, you know, fluctuate and certain spaces and areas. And it's it's really beautiful. So not only do we come from these complex indigenous nations, but we as individuals also bring beauty and complexity within the worlds that we live. Another thing is Indigenous peoples haves and some sorts of the world experienced an apocalypse, right? Many of us are diasporic communities. We have been pushed out of the original homelands that we grew to know where our knowledge systems are based, where our relatives are buried, where we have our stories and where they originated. And because we're living in that sort of diaspora, a lot of people don't realize that native peoples live in a diaspora. Many of us are making our way home and making our way back to our peoples. So that apocalypse is being born into a world that you're not only you know, that you're not supposed to exist, and every single, every everything coming from all sides is telling you that this world is not made for you. Even though the history of being connected to the land runs in our blood. So this apocalypse and trying to challenge that idea of not existing in a land where we do have the right to live and reconnect to is a great example of kind of that settler colonial violence And many Indigenous peoples, many Indigenous bodies still really struggle with being able to fully flourish and being able to share their brilliance and the beauty that they bring into the world. And so when, you know, doing this sort of work and when engaging with. Decolonization is a word that I hear a lot. What it really comes down to is being able to reclaim one's identity and find all parts of their own identity in and in all of the diverse experiences and backgrounds that they have. Another thing that I want to mention is that I am couldn't look on my father's side, but my mother is actually German and French. And so I also have a mixed background, and this is something that's very difficult in some ways to talk about because the minute that I say that I'm not fully native or I don't fit this blood quantum idea that has been imposed on our people, people start to challenge my existence and they start to make assumptions or understandings that I don't have the connection that I need to with my indigenous side. But what's important is that my community, my. Relatives, the work that I do all centers around. Not only my passion for early art music, but also my identity and moving through the world as an Indigenous person. So even when people challenge, you know, my only my left pinky being native, it's like, no, it's it's more than blood quantum. It's more than quantum. It's it's about. It's about having that connection. It's about looking in the world and moving through the world in certain ways. It's about kinship, it's about reciprocity, and it's about engaging those ideas so much and being accepted by community. And that's a journey that I am still having and that I will continue to have and I have the support from. My community, my tribal nation. And it's just another way to challenge the erasure and kind of absurdity of the of the claims being made against native peoples. So, yeah, that's a little bit of my history.


Britt[00:13:06] Well, thank you for that. Every time we talk, I hear things in new ways and you unlocked through some of your language. You unlocked some new places in my heart. And I'm really grateful for that. I'm sitting here pinching myself. So don't start crying because just because it was so moving, what you said, you know, with regards to the apocalypse, but also being erased from a land that belongs to you. And, you know, it made me think about the differences between acknowledgments, apologies and amends. And I'm framing this purposely for, you know, our audiences, people of all gender identities and races and ethnicities. But I suspect the vast majority of our audience has not studied indigenous issues and not probably thought deeply about them. Just based on my lived experience moving through the world, I could be wrong. So I'm going to frame this based on where I think that they are in the language of acknowledgment and apologies and amends. And we started this episode by acknowledging some important facts about colonization, such as colonists built the US on stolen land with stolen labor. Like, if if we can't acknowledge that, then it's like a whole different podcast episode. So let's, let's stipulate for the record, like we're all on the same team and we can at least get that far. And then you flesh that out with personalizing some of your story. But it's like even though that acknowledgment is important and often conveniently forgotten, it does nothing to express the sorrow, the remorse. I mean, it's an intellectual statement. It's not an expression of feelings. Whereas an apology, on the other hand, is a heartfelt expression of grief and awareness that comes from your body. I am sorry. Here is what we did. It was wrong. And yet even apologies are lacking, right? I mean, you know, they don't address the harm. You know, that's where amends come in. Amends are for writing wrongs, for instance. Made up example. If I stole your wallet, I could acknowledge that. I could apologize for it. But unless I give it back, you still are out all that money. You still don't have your wallet back. So the words are nice. And I probably appreciated depending on the circumstances, but I suspect you'd like your money back. And so I'm giving us this slow wind up here to introduce the concept of the land back movement, because some people acknowledge the truth of first contact and the resulting genocide and systems of oppression that colonizers instituted with regards to native nations and peoples. We see that all the time. Like you alluded to, Breana, with land use, acknowledgment statements or decolonization and whatever the latest jargon is, I mean, it's almost like a protection racket that some organizations have going so they won't get sued or have PR incidents or anything. But it's like, what can I do? What is the least possible effort I can make to just get you off my back? And so that's that's like the acknowledgment piece. Maybe it's appreciated to certain degree, but it doesn't get close to an apology or an amends, which really involves building real relationships. Like I said at the beginning, with the real people and writing our wrongs as best we can. So if we go back to this premise that white colonizers built this country on stolen land with stolen labor and still benefit from that theft today, what do we feel compelled to do? Do we feel compelled to maybe learn our true shared stories? Do we maybe feel compelled to make financial reparations? Do we feel compelled to wait for it? Wait for it? Give the land back? And that's what my understanding of the land back movement. So, Breana, I'm hoping you can correct anything I've gotten wrong and maybe flesh that out and introduce that topic for us.


Breana[00:17:32] Yeah, I know. That's a that's a great intro to the Land Back movement especially. And I get a lot of asks about when the land back movement started one of the questions this past week and I guess lecture had to do with that and a scholar that really captured it for me was could a rising body who is Hoopa correct and your OG from Northern California. She got that question as well and responded on her Twitter with. Land back started in 1493. That's when it first when the first claims to the land were made. When we were first greeted, not even greeted by the first colonists on these shores. So and I love to think about that, you know, like we in so many cases and you read about it so often, especially with Columbus writing these these people, these natives are going to be so easy to take advantage of because they are so generous and kind and outreaching. You know, there are so many examples of that happening in various parts of North America in general. And so what I think is really just important with the land back movement is that we're still in that fight to have the land returned. And, you know, I think a lot of people assume that if the land is given back, they'll never they're going to be kicked off and have to go back to where they went. Like, that's that's not the the idea of land back, but rather that we can fully start to. What could your rising body states rewrite our histories and that's all righty That's all right T that's wri. T Being able to rewrite those histories, being able to reengage with the ways that we connected to the land, being lands, being able to create a more equitable world that elevates all truths and all opportunities is the is the point of land back. Another great example, physical example of land back is being able to have our knowledges and our relatives that currently sit in archives and institutions return to our people and return to our families. The peoples who originally created those materials with the idea that our kin or that their kin would be able to receive those receive those materials back. I think specifically of the songs that my own relatives created on some of the first wax cylinder recordings that are now being housed in an archive less than 15 miles away from me that I'm not allowed to access. And what that means for, you know, remediation, that's another really great term and concept is the re maturation, the return of those materials back to our matriarchs, back to our bloodlines so that we can fully flourish within our ideologies as contemporary indigenous people, and so that we have access to our knowledge systems that are not only, you know, crumbs dispersed by the the the overarching system that's holding our relatives hostage, because that's what it is. It's it's being held hostage hostage not only with our physical recordings, but also the relatives that can not only teach us so much, but hold our histories in the weavings of the basket and the songs from a ceremony or in the art that's created by, you know, young people or the beadwork that tells the histories of European trade and such before hostility and aggression were experienced. So I think a lot about that when it comes to the land back movement, that it's not just the return of land, but the return of our relatives and the full on investment in allowing everybody to flourish in the ways that they are meant to. As their own people, as their own hearts are meant to do. Because the system that we currently have. Doesn't allow for that. And that's not just native people. That's that's, you know, various groups of people. But the goal of land back is to be able to create a space for that. More specifically, my people can ask people, where are world renewal people? We have a ceremony called the World Renewal Ceremony. It's directly translated as Fix the World. So we spend once a year ish going down to the river and spending time remembering our commitment to the nations and the world, the world around us. And we spend time giving thanks, but also recognizing that we have a lot of work to do in order to balance the world back. And we've been doing this ceremony since time immemorial. So we recognize that we have a responsibility not only to the land, the nations, the world, the people around us, but that we have a commitment to revisit those ideologies and those perspectives as fix the world people. As many times a year and then have a general celebration and gathering all together to hold ourselves accountable. And that's really, really important as well. And the only way that we will continue to grow is recognizing that we come from a community of people that need to do better. But we as individuals also can make a full commitment and in creating better. So that's those are kind of the ideas that I hold personally for the land back movement. But of course we can see the history through AME, the American Indian Movement, and every single indigenous person has a different idea of what that looks like. But a lot of it comes back to being able to flourish and learn and reconnect with the land in a way that really supports indigenous perspectives and ideologies that were created from this land and keep the land in mind. So yeah.


Britt[00:24:53] Yeah, you know, like you alluded to, the harm is ongoing. There's specific actions that we as a government built by settlers, colonists and invaders are doing for specific reasons, meaning money and power. And it's not like just some quaint story that happened in the 19th century or the, you know, the 17th century, the 16th. I mean, this is ongoing. There's ongoing issues that are not just esoteric, arcane, you know, theoretical conversations happening on university campuses. They impact people, real people all the time in their daily lives. And I like how you connect the dots to that. You know, it's almost like so many, especially white people. It's like we want to find contorted ways to rationalize our privileges. You know, I can almost feel the questions. You know, as soon as I hear Land Back, it's like I can feel the weight questions in my mind, like, well, aren't all nations the result of conquest? Why should I have to pay for something my ancestors did? And wait a second, my ancestors came here a lot later after the US was established. Why should I have to? But why should it impact me? And wait a second, Some of my ancestors were native, so why should I have to pay? Where's my land? And I gave my land to some random native person or nation. One, like you said. Won't they just do to us what we did to them? And I guess what I end up thinking is that many of us see our capitalist society, at least in the US, flavor of capitalism as a zero sum game. In other words, I have to get mine even at the expense of others getting theirs. And of course, this approach conveniently keeps us as white people wrapped in our racial privilege and bolsters the existing systems of racial oppression too. And that's not to say nothing of writing past wrongs. I mean, it's almost like, you know, it's almost as if when we base our entire economy on the extraction of resources, there can be no true togetherness. Who would have thunk it? And without that togetherness, why would white people trust Native peoples or nations act any differently than their ancestor colonizers did? So of course, there would be skepticism about something called the land back movement. How would it not include violent or economic retribution? Because that's our orientation historically and culturally, or at least, why would I want to go through the hassle? I had a rough day at work. I have got kids at home, whatever. I'm tired. I don't have time to think about this. So, you know, I encourage and implore our audience to think, especially white members, to think about all the ways that we as white people are still acting as colonizers today. All the ways we are currently is being alluded to delicately, the way we are currently actively maintaining the places and systems designed to oppress and suppress native nations, languages and cultures. So. Breana I'm not asking you to convince anybody of anything. This is certainly not a debate or we're just kind of introducing concepts, hoping to spark curiosity and empathy. But I wonder how activists in the land back moving are framing this discussion in ways that both native and non-Native people where they are. Like you said, it's complex. Every native person has different ideas, every non-native. So it's like how we're how are activists finding ways to make inroads and build bridges and raise awareness and bring people together?


Breana[00:28:38] Yeah, absolutely. That's a great question. I have a few examples that popped into my head, but one that just really happened recently was I was able to meet up with a scholar within my community, which was absolutely great this past couple of weeks ago, and being able to reconnect. And our community is small, the indigenous community is very small and be able to be able to be able to spend time together and share ideas and just be among each other being, you know, instead of just the one native person around, be having another person in the room. It really feels as attended you as an Indigenous student and scholar, it fills my heart to be able to see somebody who's walked a similar path to me and be able to catch up with them on the basis and with the same experiences. Unfortunately, after that situation, I was told that I was not welcomed into the room by a faculty member who went through a student that I was not welcome into the room and I didn't. I shouldn't have been there because I am a. Potential threat to discretion and. Some of the information happening. And so there was this assumption that I was moving through the world with the worst intentions, first of all. And then second of all, these two people who reached out to me to tell me this, that I wasn't welcome in that space with another indigenous scholar. We're not native peoples. In fact, they didn't include the entire native community. So this is something that just happened a few weeks ago. And I think about situations like this and a student who reached out to me as somebody who has really expressed allyship and understanding around racism. But in that moment, I immediately thought. You as a person who, you know, is is claiming allyship is still a part of the problem. You're sitting here and not challenging somebody who might be, you know, a higher up than you like you need. You need to challenge them because indigenous perspectives and something that a great academic and teacher told me is that Western society is obsessed with hierarchy. Well, if we have those imposed hierarchies, how are we supposed to challenge the dismissive and destructive and harmful perspectives that are happening above us? And that situation, I would have hoped that that student would have stood up for me and I would have done that for that student. And in that situation, it was not only an experience of racism, but a situation where I'm sure the individual sat down and thought, Well, what do I need to do right now? I recognize that it's not okay for me to tell a native person that they aren't welcome in a space on their ancestral homelands. Why do I feel the need that I still need to do that? How do I navigate a situation where hierarchy is at play here to help benefit somebody who has been constantly excluded from the realm of academia and music performance in general? How can I take the steps to educate my superior but also recognize that those perspectives are extremely racialized and the assumptions being made are continuing to paint a certain perspective of native peoples? And how do I stress that it is extremely important, regardless of what the what BRI and this situation is, Whatever department she's in, how do I express to my superior that she needs to be there as a native person and that the native community is small enough that it's important for a graduate student? It's important for young people. It's important for them to have community and to be invited to things. This doesn't have to do with the systems and the rules set out for the systems we have to rewrite. Like I said before, these systems so that people can gather and come together in community and not gate keep their own themselves from their own communities and their own ideologies. That's a part of that settler violence. So I would challenge people in these situations to recognize that these structures of hierarchy are imposed on indigenous peoples. And if you see something, say something like, I go into the world every single day knowing that there's a chance that I'm going to experience violence. And it is it's having a real impact on myself and my body. And there are a lot of young indigenous people who are no longer alive because that burden and that weight became so heavy that they've they've killed themselves or they've gone missing or they've put themselves in situations, dangerous situations that unfortunately don't allow them to continue on. And so when I when I confront things and when I put my foot down. But I try to remember is that this action is going to make change regardless of how small or how large the changes it's going to make change. And if I burn some bridges, maybe those bridges weren't meant to be built. Maybe we were supposed to stay and use our canoes to get across the river instead of building something that imposes on the land. So let's figure out some ways to to challenge these hierarchies in a way that not only elevate indigenous truths and recognize native histories, but everybody's truth. This world is unjust and as allies and as somebody who also strives to be an ally, I think it's really important to recognize that I don't belong to every single group. I try to challenge myself in ways to just if I see something, say something. And if there was a situation like that where I saw somebody being picked out and targeted or experiencing some sort of aggression, that it is my responsibility as a person. To extend some humanity and extend some love and care for them, because everybody deserves that. And that's not, you know, just a native saying that's an everyone saying. And I think the world would be a better place if instead of building bridges, we found ways to work with the world around us. So.


Britt[00:36:11] Yeah. It's such a beautiful story. Thank you so much. I'm so sorry that happened to you, but thank you for sharing it with us. You know, a lot of our audience is queer and will relate to so much of what you shared, even though the queer white experience is very different than the queer indigenous experience or the straight Indigenous experience, there's a lot of commonalities in terms of the way the the traumas ripple throughout our lives, in our communities. And a lot of what you describe, I think our audience will relate to immediately. Fear of being who you are in the world, walking out the door without self-censoring or playing at small, making heartbreaking, pragmatic choices every day to reduce harm or preserve safety. Knowing that those choices might come at the expense of the liberation in some small way of people in your community. You know, a queer people can definitely relate to that. And so so like you said, I'm hoping to stoke some empathy and curiosity in our audience by connecting some of the dots and painting a picture and words that they can understand. And, you know, and we're dealing with a large collection of nations who've been here since time immemorial. Of course, things are complicated. You're not going to, as a layperson, know all the all the protocol of all the nations and all the peoples and understand all the languages. It's a rich, multifaceted history, and that's part of its beauty. And we are actively being denied our shared stories, even as white people. So many of us have, you know, indigenous people in our families. But that shouldn't even matter their rich histories because they were lived histories. And so whether it's art or music or culture or language or wisdom, we are being we are allowing ourselves to be denied so much. And what really moved me in your story was a question I ask myself regularly because like you alluded to, I'm not a member of every group either, obviously, and every day I come up short every day. I think back over the course of the day and I cringe at some of the stuff I thought or I said reflexively, because we're all in this soup together. We're swimming in this stew of racism and, you know, street supremacy and misogyny together. So we're just it's dripping from a soup. We can't help but exude some of it from time to time. And I think, what am I really willing to risk? And then the moment in the story that you painted, that's a meditation for all of us. What are we willing to risk? And I think that is at the heart of land back, the beauty of land back as it's so simple and clarifying. But like you said, it's really a broad array of possible, you know, ways to to to take care of people who are alive today and honor our shared stories of yesterday. There's so much that we can do. But it's it's really what are we willing to risk? And so as part of that, I wanted to go through a couple of examples here that are really specific just for the sake of our audience not to understand. It's like, okay, if I'm not willing yet today to sign over my mortgage to the local native nation, it's not all or nothing. Like you said earlier, there's so many things we could do. So one of the things that it's really cool where I live in Seattle, the Duwamish tribe here has something called Real Rent Duwamish, and it was created by the Duwamish Solidarity Group in partnership with the de Armas tribe. And it basically honors the the 1855 theft by the US government of 54,000 acres of Duwamish homeland in exchange for some hunting and fishing rights. And so this group, the Duwamish Solidarity Group, suggests a meaningful and sustainable amount that individuals who benefit from that theft all those years ago, who still benefit from it today because we're residing on that land or or doing business on that land or going to sporting events or arts events on that land. I do every day that we can pay his rent or you can look at a tax, something like $18.55 a month, a symbolic gesture to the date, 1855. So this is just one tiny example. I mean, thousands of people are participating in this program, but this is just one tiny example. So many of us can afford $18.55. And if we all collectively did that, think about how we might change the world instead of just being so quick to pat ourselves in the back and call ourselves allies or find ways to center ourselves, we could start helping. We could really look in our heart and find ways that we can risk something and give until it hurts.


Breana[00:41:41] Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I love I love what they're doing with that as well. And even if you the the $18.55 or however much money you don't feel, I always encourage people that buy from local native artists and such. We have so many amazing people, amazing creators out there that are finally getting their spaces to create. Well, you know, whether that's beadwork that is ethically sourced from a native person or whether that's hair wash or lotion, things that are sourced from indigenous peoples practicing different and different skills that they have. Another really great example is culinary. I actually just saw there was a new indigenous restaurant that opened up in Seattle, I think this past week, same thing in Denver, if there any Denver to Kobe and they source all of their meats and corns and everything from native owned farms and ranches, there's so many ways that you can really support and invest in native peoples that really bring them into, into, into contemporary settings, recognizing that they themselves are also still practicing traditional ways of kinship and understanding of the world and the lands that you can encourage and invest in. And some of the times those investments are buying your bison meat from an indigenous individual or buying your corn seeds that you're going to plant in your garden from a seed project that tries to bring heirloom. That was close. Everyone, my cat, if you didn't hear but try to involve, you know, traditional ways of planting and engaging with the world around you that center and elevate indigenous peoples. And then not only that, there are a lot of artists, poetry and and writers out there that will support you. Even on the wall behind me as all indigenous artwork fashion designers, there are so many different ways to support and elevate Indigenous stories because every single thing that you buy from an Indigenous person has a story, whether that's a story of the individual and their love that they put in that project for you, or whether that's a tradition that has been passed down through generations. And I think that's just so beautiful and also a way that you can not only show your support, but also get some fun native swag in the process and get some good food, you know, all sorts of things. There are just so many great opportunities. And then when I when you are mentioning apologies and such, something that came to mind was another book that I really love called Heart Berries. And there's one line in it that I can't remember specifically, but it it's essentially in Western society. When we say we're sorry, we say we're sorry and we're done. And that's that's it. We meet one, but an indigenous society's we say sorry and we go through ceremony and we spend time practicing and going through that ceremony so that we can become better people. And that's exactly what I was thinking of. When you mentioned that, Brett, that you look back on your days and you you learn, you continue to learn. This pursuit to knowledge will never stop. And I think that's the exciting part about these sorts of conversations is that we're allowed to make mistakes, but we need to be better and learn from those mistakes in order to continue to create a world that's going to elevate and and invest in these wonderful, you know, groups of peoples and such. So, yeah, all sorts of different ways to support your indigenous artists. And next time I'm in Seattle, I am 100% going to go check out that new restaurant because it looks at me.


Britt[00:46:13] I love it. And like you said, that's one of the reasons I love that, frankly, is because we're meeting a lot of the audience where we are, where it's a kind of a transactional introductory relationship. We're not going to nor would it be appropriate just to write in and, you know, go to the local community center in the native nation and introduce ourselves and invade space. And what. A lot of white people said, Oh, yeah, please don't do that. But a lot of white people don't know is there's a long history of white extraction, of native knowledge in arts, even languages. In some cases, maybe the best of flawed intentions and lots of cases just downright theft. And so we like to pretend as white people that we're doing things in a vacuum. And so that's why it's so important to go slowly and to start where you are. I mean, physically where you are. There's, you know, depending on where you live, there are going to be indigenous resources in the area where you can start to do your research and read. And like going to customer service spaces, it's perfectly appropriate to browse and purchase Indigenous art and to go to an Indigenous restaurant. That's wonderful. That's a great introduction. And over time you're going to start to be a regular, you're going to start to meet people and invariably you'll start to build relationships. And that's the whole point. And that's where we can build trust and move forward. And this is a good segway into hungry listening. That is a native concept that was I don't know if was created by a but it was certainly referenced in an amazing book then and we'll put all this in the show notes so you don't have to scramble scrambled to write things down. I'll make sure to site everybody in the show notes and give some. There's so many amazing books out there, but it's a concept hungry listening that basically it's naming the insatiable need for some of us to acquire. I don't know everything in this case with regards to indigenous music. It's like that capitalist colonizer mindset run amok. Everything has its price, it's all for sale. We want what we want when we want it. I am just hungry. I want that music. I saw some native artifact in a museum and I want more. I want to purchase it. It's my right. I have money not understanding in the slightest the larger framework in which the art was created, disseminated, meant to be experienced. And like I alluded to earlier, all the ways that white people have been stealing that art for their own purposes for hundreds and hundreds of years. And I notice that a lot of white people get annoyed by this. It's I think it's like we want a whole past. It's like we're this is really true in Seattle where it's a liberal city. And so we're really quick to pat ourselves on the back. It's like we want to learn and help, but we don't want any limits placed on our generosity. It's like, No, I'm here to help you. Where's all your music? Where's all your art? I want I want a free pass into all of your your spaces and places and what do you mean? Some of it's not for me, but my intentions are good. What are you talking about? And we just conveniently forget the hundreds of years of appropriation, even if it has been under the guise of good intentions. So I guess. Brown What I'm saying is like, what? My question to you is, as we think about hungry listening, if you could flesh out that concept, then also sort of talk about the difference between appropriation and appreciation and how all of us non-natives can start to learn to engage in the arts, but with the proper respect and an appreciation.


Breana[00:50:08] Yeah, absolutely. So hungry, listening, especially Dylan Robinson does a really wonderful job kind of hashing that definition out. But what's really special about that concept is that it really challenges the way that we engage with art and music. So we go to an art museum and our relatives are on display and we have no ability to interact with them. I think of this as with the color baskets that are held in London. Many of those museums have no idea what those baskets were actually used for, but make assumptions about them. And the last relative that was. The last time that relative saw their creator or catalog person was when it was taken overseas. And so I think of those sorts of things as, you know, expanding this idea of what listening means and what it means to engage with our baskets, our musics and who who it is for and who it's not for. For example, also indigenous music is often extracted and then put on the stage with classical artists, as opposed to recognizing that it has its own space and place that it was created in and where it was intended to be heard. And that there are certain are songs in a lot of ways are beings, they are they hold power, they hold empowerment. And by extracting them out of the situation destroys their magic, destroys their understanding in a way that is often not able to be fixed. And so that in a lot of ways causes a lot of harm because it backs up artists, indigenous artists in a way where they have to perform, and that performing can, in a lot of ways be seen as kind of like the circus performers or these, you know, freak shows that happened early is these people are extracted from their communities and put on display and yeah, they're making a living, Yeah, they're doing this and that. But are they really able to be who they are? Are they really able to connect and have a part of themselves that stays either within themselves or within their community? And so, like you were saying before, with music and such, sometimes there are things that should not be accessed by their regular by by the audience or community. Sometimes there are things that should just stay within the group of people or with the individual, and this can be seen in color perspectives as well. I just recently learned that our language can be heard by other peoples and understood by colored peoples. But if a person sings vocals or anything that is considered a direct line to our spirit, people are, if they are, which are our spirit people, because it's only going to be understood by our spirit people and not the people around us. So this happens even within our communities. So that's what's really important is as allies and peoples, that not everything is for you or for us and that hungry listening, that extractive ideology comes from this assumption that you have a right to certain knowledge systems and a way that this is actually being challenged. I think really within a material way is the newest program called MCR two, which is a digital archive. And I'll just explain a little bit of it because I think it's a great example of how we can go about engaging with indigenous peoples and concepts. This digital archive actually considers native thoughts and perspectives and such when when it was created. So the people who create the hub for a family or a tribe, they create it. But then what happens is they remove themselves and then that hub is only accessible to the community. So they have the resources and the needs to be able to hold their cultural knowledge. But the individual who originally created it isn't overseeing it or contributing to it at all. They've completely removed themselves. And then this group not only being able to have power, but they can also put certain protocols around the materials that end up getting put on this on this archive so they can put seasonal, you know, assumptions around it, they can put gendered potentially they can put ceremonial or non ceremonial. And really anything that you can think of, anything that could be could create some sort of protocol can be enforced in this space. But the people who are creating this are the community themselves. And of course, you know, there are criticisms. With, you know, archives and digital archives in general. But this is an archive, a digital archive that is actually taking the steps to try to understand and implement those perspectives in a way that not only empowers the community at hand, but also removes them with the not imposing the assumption that they should also have access to that knowledge while empowering the community. And this can be this should be seen in various art examples as well, whether it's music or digital art, whether it's art within an institution that there should be certain spaces and places we can exist that are not under the gaze of. A colonial mindset or or an imposed assumption of of our knowledge. We should be able to exist without feeling like we have to pay with our existence in order to share those knowledge systems.


Britt[00:56:51] So yeah, and it's like your lives are not for our amusement.


Breana[00:56:58] Mm hmm.


Britt[00:56:59] You know, and we get that a lot in the queer community. It's like, I am not your homo. I am not your little bit of color to enhance the your day or your mood or your. I'm not your next door neighbor. I'm not your you know, I'm not your minstrel. I'm not your docent to queer culture. I'm a complex human being like all of us. And when we start to dehumanize people, then we think we own them. We think we own all that they produce, all that they contribute. And then if we buy your ticket, if we pay our fee, then we automatically should be given access to all that they are. But if we think about it from a perspective slightly differently, like the family unit, there's stuff that we would talk about with our spouse that we wouldn't talk about with our children. There's stuff that we would talk about with our children and our spouse that we wouldn't talk about with the extended family. There's stuff we would talk about with the extended family that we wouldn't talk about with our church or our job. So there's ripple effects. We have social orbits, and the same might be true in some cases for what you're describing. It might be certainly an imperfect analogy, but just trying to frame it for non-native audiences, we don't none of us share all of ourselves with everybody. Regardless of what people are willing to pay. And that's all you know, I don't want to be reductive, but that's part of what I think that indigenous people are asking for, is to for everyone to see you as fully realized, complex living human beings with vibrant cultures, with senses of humor, with likes and dislikes, with music and art, and, you know, just everything that goes into a rich life. Not you're not just a black and white photo hung on the wall.


Breana[00:58:55] Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Especially senses of humor. I'll give another example of that. During our most recent Society of Ethnomusicology conference, we had a nice little panel. And those of you who have seen smoke signals will see. All right. Remember the dinosaur royalty? Well, we did that again, and we definitely did that during our in our introductions. But of course, nobody knew because we were speaking our own languages. But we had a nice little chuckle along with, you know, those in the audience who could understand us. And those senses of humor are starting to become more prevalent in media, especially The Last of US is a great example, too. For those of you who are interested in video games and zombies, you know, like we have two native people who are living on the edge of the earth and just thriving and their sense of humor is great as well. So like you said, like there's just such a complexity and there's so many different ways that we express ourselves and we can't all be painted with the same brush, but we all deserve to bring that brilliance to the world and that flourishing to the world. And it's it's fun to see some of those examples starting to creep up here and there. So, yeah.


Britt[01:00:22] Well, Breana, it was just such a pleasure talking with you tonight. Every time I get the chance to speak with you, I learned so much. You've given me so much to think about you. You present things in new ways that I that I hadn't thought through or new approaches that haven't landed with me yet. So I'm really grateful. And like I said to the audience, we're going to load up the show notes with all sorts of great reading materials, websites, reference materials, so you can opt in, you can dive deep. It's a rich world of activism out there, some absolutely brilliant indigenous people doing amazing work to to in a pan Indian way to bolster all of the nations out there. Banding together is really inspirational and I think you can those of us in the queer community can see a lot of here, a lot of echoes in the way that we operate between our different cultural segments lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, transgender, and and the way that various native communities operate and how we band together for the sake of the greater good. So if you so if I've pique your interest, stoked your curiosity, we're going to load you up with lots of reference materials. But Brianna, mainly I just want to say thank you. It was always so fun to see you and spend time with you And, you know, like like you said, the next time you're in Seattle, let's hit that restaurant together and enjoy some good food.


Breana[01:01:51] Yeah. Thank you, Britt. It's always such a pleasure. [Karuk farewell] Thank you so much, everybody. It means "hooray" as well. So thank you.


Britt[01:02:02] I love that. Well, I'll say hurray, Dear audience, you've made it through another episode of Not Going Quietly. Thank you so much. We would we couldn't do this show without you. We really appreciate your support. If you have any questions about anything we've discussed today, I encourage you to reach out to me and we can start a conversation and see if we can see if we can make some really great positive change in the world. Thanks so much, everybody. Bye bye. Take care. You've been listening to. I'm Not Going Quietly with co-hosts Jonathan Beale and Britt East.


Jonathan[01:02:35] Thanks so much for joining us on this wild ride as we explore ways to help everyone leap into life with a greater sense of clarity, passion, purpose and joy.


Britt[01:02:43] Check out our Shownotes for links, additional information and episodes located on your favorite podcast platform.

Breana McCulloughProfile Photo

Breana McCullough

Classical Musician and Advocate

Breana H. McCullough is a Karuk Baroque and Modern violist from Bozeman, Montana. McCullough started her career at a young age and has since performed with various ensembles including the Sinfonia Spirituosa, I-90 Collective, Battle Creek Symphony, Carpe Diem String Quartet and others. She began a master’s degree in Historical Performance at Indiana University, Jacobs School of Music but has since started a graduate degree in Ethnomusicology at the University of California, Los Angeles as a fully funded Cota-Robles Fellowship recipient. Her research focuses on Indigenous representation in Early Music as well as Karuk epistemological and cultural practices. She currently sits as a co-chair in the IDEA Taskforce (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access) for Early Music America and is the student representative in the Indigenous Music section for the Society of Ethnomusicology. McCullough currently resides in Los Angeles, California.