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Beverly Bushyhead Intro

This self-love that we talk about for everyone is what Native people are talking about when they talk about decolonizing. Decolonizing your mind and you’re thinking. That is that is what it is that no matter what anybody says about you. You know who you are you value.


Arielle: This conversation, felt like the soul medicine, I needed. I could listen to Beverly Bushyhead’s, beautiful voice, all day. She is one of the most empathetic, curious, and truly powerful centered individuals I've ever had the privilege to speak with part of her mission in life is to map humanity. Currently, I had the opportunity to meet and learn from her at the 2020 FREC Overcoming Racism Virtual Conference where she facilitated a workshop, and she was then gracious enough to respond to me when I invited her to come on to this podcast. This is the first one on one conversation she and I have ever had, and I love that I get to share it with you. We will link to some of what we talked about in the show notes page. I hope that you leave this episode feeling incredibly inspired and more connected with yourself and the world around you.

Arielle: Welcome, everybody, welcome Beverly but she had I am so grateful to have you here.


Beverly: Lovely, thank you so much for inviting me. Very honored.


Arielle: So, I met Beverly at the Overcoming Racism Conference out of Minnesota. Are you in the Twin Cities?  is that yeah I don't I live, I was one of the only non-feel like non Minnesotans that I met when I was at that conference but I went to your wonderful workshop that was about experiments, which I love experiments and empathy building, and I just really wanted to talk to you more so I wanted to just start this really the first time you and I are speaking one on one which with asking you about some of the greatest pivotal moments that you look at maybe as gifts in your life, and put you on the path of purpose that you're on.


Beverly: So, I've had a background working in nonprofits. Great work, important work. This equity, the challenges that are facing our society, the inability to bridge and communicate across difference very much started calling me to consider the challenges that we're facing and how we're facing them, and how people are feeling about their neighbors and themselves and I started asking those questions, and as I dove in and started sort of teasing out my own journey around. How did I feel as a native woman growing up on a reservation, living now in a city, all those growths and views were helpful to me to understand, farm girl who moved from Iowa to the Twin Cities and you know I started noticing that there were things that I didn't know if we were doing a good job? Broadly, connecting those dots. And so, because I could see it, I thought I wanted to share that, and it started being very much in demand. So, I'm very honored to be able to share my history, the history of others together in in sort of a woven fabric of what does community mean what does it look like, and how do we build community and connect with each other.


Arielle: Speaking my language. So, was it that you hear that farm girl from Iowa, saying, you are connected you're making the parallel between a farm girl from Iowa coming to the Twin Cities and you as a native person coming from a reservation to the big city and like seeing the commonalities?

Beverly: Absolutely, it was so unthinkable to me that what I was feeling, someone else could feel from a really different perspective and I thought there's some wisdom in here there's something that deserves sharing.

Arielle: Tell me a little. I mean if you don't mind, I would love to hear a little bit more about what your personal, and I love that you went through your personal journey to come to your path and purpose right like you use that history as a way forward. So, tell me a little bit more about what brought you to the Twin Cities from your renovation or how you know what it was like to grow up.


Beverly:  Absolutely So growing up on the reservation is very much homogenous in a way. You look like everyone else, you're in much economically the same situation as everyone else, the same language and culture and all of that is happening, and you really don't recognize because you belong. And so, when I was in high school, we moved to a completely different town part of the country, and it was not the case. And I had to learn quickly what it meant to adapt. And what I brought with me. And what others had there in their belongings. And where did I fit in and so those questions started, I started asking them very early. But then, I just went on, you know, I went on with my life, I went on with my education. And what I learned when I came to Minnesota, was that many of us come from lots of different tribal nations. And so, this is a big urban area with lots of native groups who are part of the residents here and who love it here and become leaders and helpers and families and make this their home.


And then there are tribal nations that exist here we're on their lands. And so that was interesting and good for me to learn about and to value as deeply as I could understand how people come into my reservations about, that was my home. This is their home and so I learned respect from different aspects and different sides of them. And I really hadn't asked myself too much the question about identity, for a long time it took me sort of I think I was. I'd always, you know questioned it, but I really haven't made my peace with it or learned a lot about it until I became an adult. And I started wondering what culture meant to me. What do hear that my first language means to me. And that helped me on a path of learning that everyone has a culture, and everyone has some ancestry that they bring. And when I saw that the diffusion happening in society, I thought, what piece of that are we all bringing almost like threads, what are we carrying forward into this equation as other people are bringing their threads to it what does it make. And so, I started very deeply diving into what equity means what connection and belonging. Feel like and look like. I brought a historical sort of viewing to it, of course I think probably growing up native, there's that cultural history, and all of that and so I wanted to make sure that I figured out what I thought of all of that, and I've learned so much on this path, but I've also been really interested in curious about everyone's path.


And so just sort of leaning into hearing what that what that means and that grew a lot of empathy for me. And so, there's some friends that I have that, of course I don't know their whole background really, but I know that we all care, and we all want good things for our lives. And so I just started leaning into that more and more and I've learned a lot and diversified my own world, So I came from this homogeny of native to this mixed sort of groupings throughout the country and all my moves and education back to thinking, what all of us what those pieces are for all of us and what they matter what they mean to us what do we apply as meaning a purpose for them. And I really want to respect that and so I listened carefully, and I have come to a different notion about it that I don't know, I haven't heard it very broadly spoken off.


Arielle: What is that notion?


Beverly: So, I believe that, and I'm sure it's my great empathy, I believe that a lot like in a troubled home. There can be some people in that home who are punished and who are you know in trouble all the time. And there can be other people in the home who aren't. And I believe that in though if that home was like our society, those trouble people and those not troubled people still feel the effects of all of that. So, I started thinking about it in terms of trauma that not only are we coming from a place of trauma that isn't experienced the same way, but it's still present for all of us. So, I sort of see us all as during this challenging, and sort of values laden conversation with ourselves with each other with our communities about what matters who matters and how does that look, then we bring that hurt with us. So, if there is a bully that bully is in pain, too.


And so, I don't think that's a very common thought process about it, but if I were going to make it a very tiny microcosm of what's happening. That's how I would say it and I believe that the only answer really is to lean in curiously, and to with empathy care about how we walk forward together.


Arielle: I could not agree more. You're totally speaking my mind. This is how I relate to the world, and you just brought tears to my eyes because you were so many years ago, almost two decades now I interviewed this woman in Argentina, who was a healer and was steady she's since passed away, That's why I think what you were saying brought tears to my eyes and she was talking about, you know, there was a genocide in Argentina, in my lifetime our lifetime, not as well known in the US, my third my second film in the following series is about survivors of that, and I have been investigating and researching that for a long time, so I interviewed her about and she was a tango singer during that internship, she was lucky enough not to be targeted, because it was pretty random in a lot of ways, the whole society was terrorized by its own theater, essentially, and it's oppressive government, but she talked about the family, just like you just for she basically narrowed it down exactly I mean beautifully how you just laid it out I think that is what those of us who are empaths and feel that deeper empathy for the whole exceed that connections of the whole can really do is like a medicine that we have. We can offer.


And so, It's beautiful. I can feel my why I was so drawn to have a longer conversation with you. So, thank you for bringing that to us already and bringing value back to me and my heart for a second because that is that sort of frame for me for all my work in the world to have just remembering that, you know, and that's why it's so important to understand the story, the stories, because there's always a story everywhere you go. So, I must be honest I have never, I mean I'm. I've never been able to sit in conversation like this with a native person, and I don't want to say that you are representing only to stickball because you are you. But you know when I, I started my documentary series. It's called belonging in the USA right and I like to ask everybody who comes to a screening or everybody who relates to my work, what is this phrase belonging in the USA and book for you and I just feel like it says, especially feels like a provocative question to ask you. So, what does that phrase mean to you when you hear it?


Beverly:  I see why it seems provocative and what a lovely memory of Betty, I first want to make sure I note that it's very important that we remember those who influence us belonging in the USA for me and maybe for many Native people, is somewhat fraught with some historical trauma, and some sort of confusing mishmash of better native veterans who we greatly revere and honor, and yet a country that denied. Much of our freedoms of religion and freedoms of. We weren't allowed to vote, and we weren't even citizens until quite recently if you think about the age of country. And the fact that we were here before it was a country. And so, I think that's a, I think it's an interesting notion and when you ask some people, they have said things like they're not, they're not American. First, they're their tribal nation first, and then that might be secondary or even third depending on how they identify and what's, what's of greatest importance to them. And so, I think it's very much provocative and very sort of confusing and there's no, like a uniform answer that all native people could get behind and say, yep, that's exactly right and so.

Transcript for Beverly Bushyhead: Our Next Neighbor

Arielle : Well and that's true honestly for every single person I mean that's why I asked the question because I also believe that if you exist you belong wherever you are and belonging is an actual it's actually more of a choice than it is something that the outside can provide you, so that, so I want the question to provoke everybody to just think deeper about that and think about all the people who were here before this was a nation. And what that means so it just feels especially powerful to be able to ask you when I can, I really don't want to put you in a position to be representing.


Beverly: But that makes me think so much. I mean Arielle that makes me think of those immigrants who have sought entrance into the country and have been denied that. And they had an image of what that value was for them, what did that mean to come to America to the United States and to be part of that growth and to become a citizen eventually and what were those dreams about. And then, you know, of course, not just native people but African people from like magnificent culture and even royalty brought here and made to be slaves, they were not slaves they were humans, and they were, they were forced into slavery and, and then the amazing resilience and patience that black and brown people have demonstrated in my opinion. With through all this time. This continued reaching across and hoping that there could be some connection and then there could be some understanding, and that there could indeed in many ways be some learning. And so that's, I just think it's amazingly patient.


Arielle: Oh, it is and in that way. I also think of a family right like if you understand the interconnectedness of everything and everyone with, I mean, in my opinion, black and brown people have had to necessarily be more empathetic as a group as a whole because of the otherization and the dehumanization that they've been subjected to by white people, and it's something that I think though is like latent fear among white people who don't have any contact with anyone who is not white, which I think is too many people. And it's also people who just have never traveled outside their city or their state or their head those opportunities are the word of the country right then, the less you have contact with people the more, the easier it is to dehumanize the easier it is to vilify and I really do think that there's this bigger fear that's like, Oh, if the tables are turned, whatever that means, everyone's going to come after us and we're going to be victimized and we're going to be dehumanized and it's like, no.


Have you ever met, you know, have you ever had a real connection with another human being that this doesn't look like you because it's not going to be that way? That's your fear speaking I mean, there's a Spanish expression global I mean there's a little bit of every big everywhere, can't make any, there's no such thing as a generalization that's always gonna hold water. But having conversations with people, I think having conversations that, for me the uncomfortable conversations that are that are bringing up things that you don't talk about generally all the topics that people tend to avoid I love to just dive right in. So, as a kid, where did you feel you that greater sense of belonging. Where did you feel that?


Beverly: I think it's interesting to think about belonging. So, belonging is sort of a formula, it's sort of a two-way kind of relationship. It's about where I feel like I shouldn't be where I stand where I feel affirmed. And then on the other side of that equation, it's who claims me, who, who says, you are one of us you belong to me and how does that look, I guess I see belonging as a dynamic. And so, I just find that a beautiful thought about where I find myself belonging. So, what pulls me. What matters to me, what would I, what would I say aligns for me and resonates for me. But then also, on the flip side of that, who claims me and pulls me closer and says yes, you are one of us and so the fact that you can resonate with what that workshop was and what that experience felt like to you enough to have this conversation, means that we have some affinities, and we feel drawn to each other. And that is the very budding the sort of little sprout of connection that is part of belonging, and love. So, like, how we defined it is so fascinating to me and important.


Arielle: For and it's interesting that, so I would say, you know, I was raised Jewish, but I no longer practice that religion. But I still would say they claim, I would be claimed right if I meet another Jewish person, they will claim me as Jewish, I am still part of that tribe. I have certain privileges because of that, and I have, you know, certain understandings that I wouldn't have if I weren't part of that community and hadn't had any of that training. And yet, it’s not a community I claim necessarily, unless, unless it's, you know, she was right, unless it's the right affinity and people so that's an interesting. So, I think, and then I think there's probably people that have identity like that where they're like why don't want to claim that I don't want to. I'm this owning that belonging you may claim me but I don't claim you and so it gets complex, but I love it. It is it’s not a one answer and that's why I love asking these questions about belonging. But so, when you were a child, was there a particular space place where you just felt right?


Beverly: Yes, I had the relationship with my grandmother. That was very deep, and she taught me many things about being a woman, and about being sort of equipped for life. It was fantastic for her to say here's the thing she had lists, here's the things that you need to know to do, and that you need to do well. And so, my goal was to meet her approval and doing those things very well and some of them were cooking. Some of them where you know all the things that in her mind, a woman does, and maturity brings. And through the years it has been different people that I sought, I wouldn't, I wouldn't fire them and wonder, how did they get that how did they become that and so I used to watch, especially women, I'm sure because I'm female, maybe that's why I don't know, but I would watch women and I would think, how did they get from here to there. How do I do that, and I remember having somewhat of a spiritual. I mean I guess it's an experience. When I was about eight. It was based on the board game Monopoly. And I just remember playing this game and thinking this felt horrible. I had to pay rent and I felt stressed, and it was for me it was stressful, and I didn't necessarily love it some people love it and I thought that we grew out of that, I thought that when we became adults at some point, we would value people differently. It was very surprising that in, in large part meant that we really honestly believed that someone who drove a Toyota for example as a symbol was not as worthy deserving as human as someone who drove a Mercedes, for example, and so those symbols, I noticed that those labels and symbols were very meaningful, then so to me that was a lot like driving the femoral and still believing that if you owned Maryland Avenue that wasn't quite as valuable as if you owned Park Place. And so that was a surprise to me and sort of somewhat a shock. I guess I thought that we would be more humanistic toward each other. And so, I was surprised and sort of started on my own little sort of what you're doing, questioning, and asking and listening to, to determine where I belonged where did I stand. If that didn't matter to me what did matter. And how could I fit with others, that doesn't define me from that perspective.

Arielle: Because the spirit you came in with that was like, this is real. But I have to have to say we played a lot of monopoly and my family, my sister and I had a monopoly marathon, we would take our money to the bathroom with us because we didn't see each other, and I was one of the people I think I didn't love monopoly, but I also can yeah I think you can look at that as a metaphor for the larger consciousness and culture. And yes, what do we value and what do we take on as our values from the outside. When you were this person who was saying, we really, we don't grow out of this. What, what is the tribe that you belong to.

Beverly: I am Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. We are quite proud to say that our what I guess it's a term the reservation, our lands are our original homelands. So, the Cherokee tribe is divided. The Division happened during the removal what's called a removal Andrew Jackson removed that that tribe and other tribes on the, on the east coast to what was going to be Indian Territory in Oklahoma and so there's a tribe that, in which I have relatives, called the tracking nation that is now in Oklahoma, and we were considered the remnants there were 6000 that, that were left after that, that horrific sort of removal, and that's who I am related to, and we still reside in those beautiful mountains really truly it's, it's, it butts right up against the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It's gorgeous. And so, I, I, we're quite proud to know that that's where we believe we were created and remain.


Arielle: I'm curious, at what age were you made aware of your heritage of your history and when it happened and how?


Beverly: I believe we talked about it always. I remember learning geographically markers, so I can remember being around on the reservation or on different roads, and people would talk about the heroes, the heroes that hit there for this is, this is a battle that happened here and so that history was, we were very saturated in that language in that conversation about this is how that flow happened we use our tribes to be bigger and, and this is what part of our nation was and where they lived and now there's a border there and it's called Georgia or, you know, just all these little tidbits that throughout my childhood, I learned a lot of history that I didn't know everybody didn't get, I thought everybody grew up grew up that way, and knew that about their relatives and ancestors, and that they also know that about each other. And, and, and that was not the case and so when I moved to a town in Oklahoma. That was very mixed and different, and they had a particular view broadly of native people. It was quite a culture shock for me to learn that not everybody loved native people and thought our history was wonderful, or that we were beautiful people. I didn't know that. And so, I had a whole lot of catching up to do. When that happened, and, and I was mostly puzzled. I do not remember feeling hatred, I do remember feeling a little bit like, like in your in your perspective of belonging, identify belong, and I had come from a place of great nurturing belonging.


These mountains feel so, you know, calm and safe, and I went into the world where there was none of that. And, and I had to learn how to create my sense of security and identity firmly, for myself, that in the face of hearing microaggressions and hearing names thrown at me and racial slurs and all of that, that I had to remember who I am, whether they could see it or not, I had to know who I was. And so, I, my core became very strong. And I learned, who I was, to me, and when I was with my people, we affirmed that for each other but when I was out in the world. I had to really know that I carried that core with me, and much power came from that, it creates a lot of resilience, because you do not have the support or the guides around you, you start having to be that for yourself. And it makes you incredibly strong, I believe.

Arielle: Well and I think any culture people tribes’ groups that have survived. There is that inner will strength but also the beauty of community which I think is what you're speaking to and you had clearly a strong foundation and base in yourself in almost a protected feels very I can imagine this beautiful mountain place in nature, just the power of nature and connection to that to give you that grounding before you were sent into reality. Reality meaning the wider, wider dream of this planet right it is a reality. Reality is kind of a fantasy that we're all suspended in unfortunately these days so I'm curious nowadays.


Where do you feel the greatest sense of belonging?

Beverly: So, I think in my immediate family and then I think I learned how to recognize those who had similar values. And so, I'm very far from my homeland, which I do return to frequently, but I also have this amazing network of mostly strong women who I can really be who I am, and they get it. They get it because they're similar. And we support each other we nurture each other and, and we create those conversations that not only are very grounding and healing for us, we're like medicine for each other, you know, and in many ways we can bring our concerns or bring our real selves, especially our vulnerable self to our, our circles and tables and I have been sort of that driver in a way, I created book clubs and I created sort of self-care groups and created so that we can talk, women I think really need to talk sometimes I find I find it's true that if we don't say something out loud sometimes we don't really know we think it.

Arielle: I think women are more naturally external processes right like we more naturally just need that sounding board, all the time I feel like that if I don't, I need to talk to my husband and tell her, like, when I call a friend right you need people that can hear your “baby” ideas before they're fully formed and affirm them or not, or say you know what I don't, I don't think that actually is true, like, your mind is telling you.


Beverly: What makes me belong in those groups as you're describing is that in their heart and their minds so there's heart mind connection. For us I believe they hold me in the way, I want to be seen. So, they hold me at this valuable place they see the strength in me in a way clearer than I do, they see the value and the real absolute core of me, vulnerability, and all, in a way that they protect it. And so, when someone as you said, calls you out on something and says you know, I don't think you're gonna feel good about yourself if you do that well I don't think that's the healthiest for you, or you deserve more. It is so nurturing and so like those mountains that come together and hold us and elevate us in our, in our reality in who we really are. They're holding us in that mind and heart, so that we're always taking ourselves to them. Sometimes needing to be put back together, but because they hold us there. We're not in danger of being less than we are. And it's super valuable.


Arielle: Wow. I just want to like soak in that is, so it is super valuable. It's super powerful and it is what I feel like continues to bring light to the planet, right, it continues to bring hope it's like those strong bonds and connections and illumination between people who love each other right like the real love of seeing and as you said holding space for one another, and I mean I do think, sometimes I think one of the things that I've I feel I have is an ability to see the potential in people like their highest self. And so, it's so I hold that for them, and I hope that I have people who do that for me too, right and it's, that's that beautiful real companionship and care.  What is freedom? How do you define that?


Beverly: As we talked about assembled earlier for me freedom is knowing my core knowing who I am having these people who remind me of my value and near that back for me. So that freedom is when all the world, disagrees, or holds me to a different standard. So, I like it sometimes when people look at me and I don't know what it is that they see. But I especially like it when they think, not intelligence, because it gives me a lot of room.


Arielle: Low expectations we have lowered.


Beverly:  What I love is that freedom is the ability to know who I am, in the presence of anyone. So, I don't risk not allowing them to define me. No matter what they think of me or say about me or say to me, I recognize who I am and that's really powerful because it means that when we're faced with some opposition or some even hatred whatever is happening for us in our lives and there's lots of stuff going around and now that I can know all of that history, my grandmother these women, you know, I can just feel so for me, it's very liberating to know. I am not at the effect of all of that, because I know who I am.


Arielle: And so is there a place for like experience that has made you feel the most liberated the freest in yourself. Is it like that? Is it taking a deep breath like what is it that makes you feel free?


Beverly: I do think, I've been great comments, and liberation from knowing all the things I've overcome. It's, it's hugely confidence building to know I've faced that, and I've not only survived, but where it propelled me. I took those bits of pain and struggle for worry, and I put them together to build a stronger foundation, and there is nothing more liberating than that because it means that no matter what happens, you're going to be okay.


Arielle: Would you mind sharing a specific story of something that led to those feelings?


Beverly: Sure, so I am a cancer survivor, and not many people I don't normally. And I, it's a huge experience. And it happened about, I think this is the 17th year of survival. And so, I was younger, and I was afraid. And I decided in those moments, what was precious, and what was precious about me, so like you feel like you're going through this, this this horrible ordeal and it was really, I don't know, a 10% chance of survival a very low chance of survival. It was inoperable cancer. The tumor was very large, and inoperable and scary. And I decided that it came to live for a reason, that there was something I was to learn from this, or if I were to die there was something that others could learn from it, I just believed that in some ways there were kids hidden in it. And nobody thought that and agree with me, that's scary. I see. But once I went through enough treatment so chemotherapy and radiation and horrible things that this does to your body. I decided that there was a spiritual part in it for me as well, that it wasn't just these outside tools. There was also the ability to go to ceremony. That was the ability for me to believe and visualize whatever this was to truly pray that whenever this came to me, that I gained the most insight from it, so that I could continue to share that, or learn from it, or whatever it was, and the greatest lesson of it was I learned to love myself.


And who would think that?


Arielle: Wow, that is so beautiful, powerful, and that I mean it's one of those, those really deep, profound learnings that I don't know if everybody even comes to in this lifetime. To love oneself, I mean it's a journey, I've been on for years, because I did, there was a period where I really did hate myself so loving yourself. It sounds like we've, we've made a trait in our society or like a bunch of itself, like, love yourself right we had a smiley from Saturday Night Live making fun of that whole movement of loving yourself but to experience something that life or death, and realizing that the answer I want to say, I don't know if he would call it the answer but the lesson the outcome was loving yourself is just gorgeous.


Beverly: It's easy then to understand that in this equity work where we met in this equity kind of work to help others to navigate these challenging conversations that are or are happening, but are definitely around us right now that if the answer, if in those moments of real fear of really being terrified to die, you can love yourself, then I know that in the midst of this is an answer to. It might not be the only answer, but it is absolutely part of it.


Arielle: Well, because it also causes you and maybe that's where you gain even more of your strengths, because I can just feel your strength, must then cause you to say okay whatever is happening out there, whatever is coming at me. It's not about me because I know what I am I know what I stand for I know that I love and I'm loved by me, not looking outside all the time which I think is a very profound thing and if you haven't seen my first film, the story of Michael D. McCarty, but that's a big part of his story so it's coming to love himself.


And I sold it to a, an African American woman. Early on she came to the first screening of it, and I had happened to have lunch with her the next day, and I knew her through sort of more work, and we'll have in this business lunch tonight. And she really didn't like my film, she really, she really was hard on it and saw it, she was like, I don't, I don't, because he wasn't, you know, overcome drug addiction and, you know, not everybody in the black community agrees with what the Black Panthers did. So, there was a lot of things where she just felt like he wasn't a good representation for black people, and you know she was a little upset about that, and I listened. And then I said Well Did you learn anything whatsoever from the film. And her answer was, she took a beat and then she was like, you could learn to love myself. And I was like, well, that's, that's the, that's the whole thing of a part of my mission, I guess. Honestly my calling is to help people see each other as neighbors, no matter where they are. The letter, what their actual neighbors are, how they are far. So, what about you, how do you think of the concept of neighbors.

Beverly: I think in many ways, I especially in the past number of years have been very appalled at some of our behavior and some things that were felt to me extreme happening and felt to me very dehumanizing and disconnected. And so, I thought what is, what do I do with that. There was a part of me that felt judgmental, like, what am I doing in this lineup that what am I doing here during this really. And then I thought, no matter what is going on in history, no matter where we find ourselves at these terms, because pendulum swings toward a different politics or a different genocide or all these different things that humans bring upon ourselves in many ways. Where did I fit in. I thought there's always going to be people who are needed to point things out, or to connect those dots and so belonging for me is knowing that during this context that we stand in globally. And then we stand in in the United States.


My role. My job, my gift is to be able to help us see clearer to articulate what our values and our strengths can be, and to help lead us there, if possible. There was a funny, kids movie, and I think it was called AMS, but in this movie. The answer, follow a trail of scent which I didn't know that. And that's how they stay in line, they just sort of follow that scent, and a twig fell across that trail, and the answer would have like, oh, we lost oh my gosh what we do. And one of the leaders came running and you can use it okay watch my eyes don't look away. We're going to get around should have seen that twig in 1998, you know, he just started. And that's what my role is, that's what I want to do, that's what I'm good at doing. That's what makes me feel like in some way, I'm helping during chaos and pain and grief. I want to be that help if I can. And I also know it's not my job that I'm choosing.

Arielle: You’re called to it. It came to you, it's what you're here to do. It's clear, and, and so what are some of the tools that you use to help build empathy because I think, you know, there are, I don't want this to be true because I really truly believe that all humans are sensory sensitive beings that we all have intuition that we all have the capacity to be empathetic it's part of what it is to be human. But I do understand that there are some of us who are more attuned to that naturally, or who have built that empathy muscle more or throughout, maybe because of life circumstances or history or whatever. So those people that feel that they're not that they are just locked, whether they maybe don't even want to empathize, what how do you work with that.

Beverly: I think it's important to redefine leadership and strength. I think it's important. I have great compassion right now for men. Because I think men are allowed a particular number of very limited number of emotions and feelings and expressions that are socially acceptable, and then they're required in that to sort of shave off the other parts of their humanity. The other parts of of their practice of being a human as you said, they have that, but they've learned to disconnect from it or deny it in a way because they've had to, to, to be socially acceptable or to make it in their line of work or to or their father or who knows all these things, and yeah, because we all have some of that going on. We all have a little bit of shaving off that we've had to do for our work or for the load of stresses and burdens that we carry, whatever those reasons are, I believe in many ways, that there's a way for us to re activate our full humanity.


And I understand why we have disconnected from it. And I understand why we judge it, and why, why, I think because we really believe that strength means you will cry, or strength means that you will not have this fear. And so, we must deny it, and lie about it, or we must in some way, not show it. And either way, it changes who we are as humans to have the sort of roundoff that bit about our experience and our actual expressions, if we're not allowed to, then we can pretend that it isn't real, but enough pretending. And you can become.


And so, I really think that that's some of what we're seeing around us. And if we stop judging it. I think we really could be freer. But we must have the spaces you know as in that training. There must be spaces that are safe for them. Because without that, it's just asking for people to have sort of a medics closed underbelly, that then they're not protected while they're there and that just creates a whole lot of pain for people.

Arielle: When you're talking about, there must be places to practice being vulnerable to practice just expressing all of it and I mean I went to theater school I went to experimental theater school so I, I mean I feel like that was just a boot camp for all of us. It wasn't the intention, but you know all these emotions are out there it's fully expressed and all the stuff the baggage you were dragging around so in some ways I just wish that we could just put everybody in theater school. That was, that would really help with just with the full expression, and I even, I mean, gosh, I know that my impression of native culture, first of all is singular, because it's based on Nollywood, and is also just so limited, I just had like, very little exposure, which I know is some ways a choice because I just haven't put myself in situations. I think partially because I feel like the pain and the empathy is like too much for me to feel I've ever been afraid of going there.


But when I think about my impression of native culture and ceremony and rituals of dance and song and drumming and expression. Feels like it was like, it's this inherent part of a culture that has lasted right that has made it through, even if it's been colonized in some ways or, you know, Hollywood eyes are exploited. There's still a way in which those rituals are what we all need as humans, they're basic to us we need to move our bodies we need to connect with the earth we need to sing. We need to be in connection while we're doing that with other people.

Beverly:  So yeah I mean I don't know what I don't really question in there but I think that the very exclusion of us from citizenship from society from all of that in many ways solidified our culture for us in many ways it was easier to remain in our groups where we did belong and we knew it, and it helped preserve much of the language and much of the tradition, and it made us have much more value of them in a way, we always valued them, but it became what we hung on to. And I really think that in some ways that was a great gift because we know we made it through those hundreds of years. And that was what helped bring us forward. And so, while we're contemporary, that is still at our core, and, and we know it. And I mean that talk about liberating, whether we're citizens or not, we know who we are. And that is fierce here.

Arielle: I don't know this, what year was citizenship granted.

Beverly:  The Indian Citizenship Act was 1924 Whoa. Yeah, so it's quite new for the for the bulk of what the United States is considered their country. We were not allowed.

Arielle: Who was your first ancestor given citizenship?

Beverly: That's a big question I'm going to look that up. The thing that was heartbreaking for me and I always felt weird like on Veterans Day, Memorial Day, my, my relatives every generation in my family. There has been service in the US military, whether they were citizens or not. And so that's sort of, I don't know that, you know, that's, that somehow is a pain for me, because it means that this service to a country that didn't even recognize you. Yeah.

Arielle: And I think that is common amongst so many groups that have been demonized and as my third film is a series is about Japanese and Japanese American family. And no one. Well, That's not true. So, the father, the grandfather of morgues. After he was incarcerated in Manzanar right with his family for years went on to work to help translate that as the war crimes trials in Japan for the US government. And I just think wow, what he was like an artist kind of person he was. He had been a curator. And I just think wow, I wish I could talk to him and ask him what that meant for him, what that was, you know, was there some sort of goodness going on there. Was there a proving of self what, what was the impulse to do that? And to be a part of, you know, it was it was it that once you've been so marginalized so other so hated. If you haven't found that self-love, then you spend the rest of your life trying to prove you deserve to address you know I don't know these are some. I always find more questions than answers in life.

Beverly: I know that for Native people coming from warrior societies coming from you defend the land you defend your family, that it's sort of a cultural piece to that and also I really think that this self-love that we talk about for everyone actually is, is what Native people are talking about when they talk about decolonizing, decolonizing your mind, and your thinking. That is, that is what it is that no matter what anybody says about you. You know who you are you value.

Arielle: And is not based on externals, which is huge. It's kind of what you were talking about with monopoly right it's not what you have, or what car you drive, or how you, you know, I am sure you have you read the book decolonizing wealth. Yes, I love that book and I have, I'm not someone who goes out and buys like stuff that relates to stuff and I've got my husband I decolonize our T shirts and I wear it all the time. That conversation sparker right because it's like well what does that mean and how do we, you know, get more people to open, awareness, which I think you and I are both catalysts for hopefully, hopefully. So, what are your, if you have if you want to share with us, because I've gotten asked this question at screenings and I like to, you know, I think it's an important piece for people who practice with self-love have maybe some more than others, because some people are really this is like a whole new concept. So, what are some of your daily practices that keep you grounded motivated inspired?


Beverly: We start every day with gratitude. Gratitude for many things that grows, it grows and it fluctuates and some days it's way longer and more big awareness, and some days, it feels like it's these pointed people or friends or for my children.


Arielle:  Do you write it, or do you just think it?


Beverly: I've made it my heart I do write it, depending on, on where I am if I find myself being judgmental or in any way having thought I don't want to have a right. I think I find it's more powerful to write it, and to write it multiple times and I also write it in different tenses, which I know might sound odd, but if I were going to say, Beverly you're valuable in the world, then I would say, I am valuable in the world, Beverly you are valuable in the world. she is valuable in the world, because that's how we fear judgments about ourselves from others, our own mind, and then about us. So, I try to cover all bases.


Arielle: That's awesome. I've never heard that I really liked that.


Beverly: It works and so then I can tell that I will start feeling better, quickly. If I, if I notice myself being judgmental, I will really recognize that is myself, judging, something about myself and so how, how can I be helpful to myself. In this way, and that really counteracts I really loved your statement at the beginning when we were talking about. It's not about me. Because that lots of people think that self-love is way more about you it's very almost, almost vanity. And then I would, I would really say it is undoing so much of what has been done and what we hear around us. It's one reason why we hear bad things sometimes about ourselves negative judgmental things about ourselves and we're quick to say well yeah, I did that wrong right you know, but if somebody says, you’re fantastic Oreo and you're doing amazing work. It feels almost like you wanted to fuck it sometimes it's easier to not believe that and so and that's where that comes from, I think that we really must get to where we don't think we're greater than anybody else, but we know that we belong, and that we matter, and so does everyone else.


Arielle: And so, I thank you and I love everything you're saying is just like making me have chills. So, you start your day with some gratitude I do the same. And then what, what do you do because you know the day is long. As long, so how do you keep yourself. I don't want to say on track because it's not about proving anything it's about being in spirit; I think in touch with yourself.


Beverly: I think we must observe ourselves, and I don't think we always do that. I think we have these interesting views where we see the world from our inside, but we don't see us as being in that world. And so, I try to always think, what does this feel like to someone else. What does, what does it sound like to others, am I being who I intend to be in their space and in this world and in my world and am I being what I what I know I am. And it isn't that I must be perfect, but I absolutely must be living when I believe is in alignment with what I want to live. It starts with writing to think setting those goals about how I want others to feel in my presence. And how do I want to feel today, how do I choose to feel what's going to happen here. And I'm positive that can happen and that during the harvest things going on. There can be moments of joy. There can be absolute connections with our core of who we are. And I, I know that it seems hard to believe because some people will talk about their hard life and I understand that, but we really can decide that no matter what we're going to choose a path that leads more to who we are, that leads more to connecting with others. And that leads more to our joy.


Arielle: Yes, yes, and that is I think what you just said we're lucky thanks reflecting, being able to observe and reflect on oneself and one's own relationship to, like, there's that. Some people talk about it as like the self with a capital S and the lowercase s right like there's those different versions of ourselves really and deciding, well how am I going to show up in the world but then also doing whatever it takes for you and for some people, I do think that writing some people is walking in need for some people it's saying that gets you connected to your core and your spirit.


That's why I like to ask that question too because I think it is different for everyone and it can be different from the same person in a different moment right there when you need different medicine. So, this year has been very challenging for many people on many levels. I don't think that there's any person on the planet that is immune right now from the challenge that this year is presented with COVID and all sorts of lies, we've been telling ourselves all the deceptions, all the self-deception and the cultural deceptions and the things we've been trying to keep under wraps and just flooded to the surface because that's what we have to be able to do to clean out to cleanse to deal with the clean pain as talks about I don't know if you've been at my mother's hand but you know really face ourselves, collectively and individually so amidst all that. What was your spirit, what brings you hope and give you inspiration?


Beverly: A lot of thinking about young people are like thinking about the resilience of so many, so when I think about live existing on this planet and when I know there was an ice age and that was stuff that dinosaurs never said that happened before. And yet, here we are, the hopefulness and this cyclical nature of spring of, the sun comes up every day, there is a pace and a pattern to live. That, for me, feels hopeful, and that helps me a lot, know that no matter what was hard about this day. Tomorrow we get to start again, we get to continue we get to believe, again, and, and so then nothing is ever forever so you know what I mean so, so it doesn't have to like end because yesterday was hard. It can mean that today will be better.


And if today is a better than maybe tomorrow, and that just keeps pulling me through to the next thing to the next challenge to the next time I get a chance to help or to care for to hear or to be there, and there's so many signs around us, that we really are influencing and impacting and helping others, and we don't even really have to know who those people are. We are just because we're here and we're and we're caring about it.


Arielle: Yes, and it's like those threads we talked about right. It can be a smile, but you know, just even look out your window and wave to somebody that can touch their spirit so it's little x small x daily acts for yourself and then for the people around you that you are contributing to making this world a little bit better, hopefully, that I know you are I feel it. And my last question for you is about, I love promoting books and films and podcasts and things as well too but books I feel like have been the greatest source of empathy building for me. So, what are some books that you recommend people check out and we'll put them in the show notes too?

Beverly:  So, um, I think there are several authors who are amazing. So, Louise Erdrich is incredible and every single one of her book’s changes something about me, there, there is a book called Heart Berries, which I think is also very powerful. There's so much literature out there and it's interesting this whole self-publishing phase, that so many people now can say what they want to say, and they don't feel it, they must go through, jump through a lot of a lot of hoops and red tape, and so I really think there are many and if you'd like I can send you a list of some things.

Arielle:  I would love that, and we have a resource guide on our website until I'll have a recommendation so that list as well, we can put them on the show notes and put them there. So, thank you for sharing a piece of your story with us that really, really appreciated talking to you.

Beverly: Thank you for asking. It's been an honor; I've loved our conversation. Thank you so much,

Let's keep in touch.

Arielle:  I am counting on it.

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