Voices to Honor for Indigenous Peoples’ Day Archives - StoryCorps
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“Try to be happy.” : A Father Shares his Wisdom

Tchin, an artist and metalsmith, has built a distinguished career. He’s an established Indigenous artist, even creating pieces for brands like Cartier.  

Tchin and Xiao Hui Star in Santa Fe, NM in 1985. Photo courtesy of Xiao Hui Star.

Growing up in foster homes across Virginia and Rhode Island, Tchin was often one of the few Indigenous people in his community. But he made a life as an artist while raising four daughters in New York City.

At StoryCorps Tchin sat down with his daughter Xiao Hui Star Chin to reflect on all he’s learned.

Xiao Hui with her parents Tchin and WanWoo Chin in Brooklyn, NY in 1988. Photo courtesy of Xiao Hui Star
Top Photo: Xiao Hui Star and Tchin at their StoryCorps interview in Philadelphia, PA on September 16, 2023. By Kayla Lattimore for StoryCorps.

This broadcast is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Originally aired January 12, 2024, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Stories to Honor Native American Heritage Month

November is National Native American Heritage Month — dedicated to honoring the diverse cultures, traditions, and histories of Native people. The month celebrates the enriching contributions and profound influence Native people have had across the continent, and also serves as a reflection and acknowledgement of the challenges they have confronted historically and in the present.

Join us in honoring and uplifting the voices of Indigenous people across the country by sharing and listening to their stories.

Add your voice to the narrative of Native American history

By sitting down with someone you love for a StoryCorps conversation, you’re showing them that their stories matter and preserving them for generations to come. Just download the StoryCorps App to record your conversation and upload it directly to the Archive, housed at the Library of Congress. Or, if an in-person interview isn’t possible, use StoryCorps Connect to conduct it remotely.

My Father, the Giant

Thompson Williams remembers his father, a larger-than-life tribal leader of the Caddo Nation and a veteran of World War II.

Listen to Thompson and Kiamichi-tet’s original StoryCorps interview.

The Bookmobile

Storm Reyes was working full-time at a migrant work camp at age 8. She remembers the day a bookmobile arrived, and the world was suddenly at her fingertips.

Where I Come From

Barnie Botone looks back on the beauty and the tragedies that he and his family have experienced on the railroad.

“She Always Gave.” Remembering Shoshone Leader Lillian Pabawena Pubigee

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“She would tell us stories, and sing to us.”
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Gwen’s family migrated from city to city across the Wasatch Front region in Utah. But Gwen continued to visit the tribe’s reservations for powwows, funerals, or basketball games, and during the summers she’d visit her grandparents. The time she spent with her maternal grandmother, Lillian Pabawena Pubigee, stands out the most.

Gwen came to StoryCorps with her daughter, Heather Timbimboo Jorgensen, to talk about those trips, and to honor the memory of Lillian.

“I Didn’t Know If I Really Belonged”: A Chickasaw Woman Finds Her Way Back to Oklahoma

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“​​As soon as I got there, I knew I was home.”
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Shelby Rowe works in suicide prevention and has dedicated her life to helping people struggling with mental health. But she came to StoryCorps with her best friend, Johnna James, to share her own story of overcoming hardship, and how she found belonging in her Chickasaw roots.

This Couple is Fighting for Equality and Safety For Two Spirit People On Tribal Land

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“This is a spiritual journey.”
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Felipa DeLeon Mousseau Grew up in Manderson on the Pine Ridge Reservation. When she was young she knew a few gay people, including her cousin, and while they were accepted in the community they were not always respected.

When she was in her 30’s Felipa went out for a night with coworkers to a dimly lit, crowded bar in Rapid City, South Dakota. This is where she first saw Monique “Muffie” Mousseau. Muffie had also grown up on the reservation, but 16 miles from Felipa in a small town called Porcupine.

A fast and intense love sprung up between them. And it took them on a journey that neither of them could have anticipated. They came to StoryCorps to talk about that night and what came next.

A Mother And Son Remember “Grandma Chief”

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“She stood up and said, ‘No, I have something to say.’”
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In 1985, Wilma Mankiller made history when she became the first woman to lead the Cherokee Nation. Her family remembers her as an inspiring trailblazer, and as a supportive mother and grandmother.

Carolyn DeFord

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“This year, I'm the age she was when she disappeared.”
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Carolyn DeFord, a Puyallup tribal member, remembers her mom, Leona Kinsey, who disappeared twenty years ago. She is part of an epidemic of Native American women who have gone missing and never been found.

“Strong Lines, Beautiful Lines”: Two Alaska Native Women Make Their Mark

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"It changes the way that you carry yourself."
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Friends Grete Bergman and Sarah Whalen-Lunn came to StoryCorps to talk about Grete becoming one of the first women in the modern Gwich’in Nation to get facial markings.

Join us for the Great Thanksgiving Listen!

This year, as we celebrate 20 years of the stories that matter, we have a number of opportunities to engage listeners in our work. Like us, you understand the act of listening has never been more important. That’s why, we will be calling individuals to participate in the annual Great Thanksgiving Listen — an initiative that invites people nationwide to honor someone in their lives by recording their story for future generations. Participants can record an interview with someone in the same room using the free StoryCorps App or record with someone in a different location using our remote recording platform, StoryCorps Connect.

Want to listen to more StoryCorps stories? Sign up for our Story of the Week newsletter to discover a new voice every week.

A Mother And Son Remember “Grandma Chief”

In 1985, Wilma Mankiller made history when she became the first woman to lead the Cherokee Nation, one of the largest Native American tribes in the United States.

She would lead for ten years, receiving numerous awards for her achievements, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998. In fact, in 2022 the U.S. Mint will feature Wilma Mankiller on a quarter.

During her tenure, enrollment to become a citizen of the Cherokee Tribe more than doubled, and she pushed to revitalize the tribe’s health care system.

She also helped broker a self-governance agreement in the 1990s, paving the way towards tribal sovereignty.

But at first, the transition into power wasn’t made easy for her. Her daughter and grandson, Gina Olaya and Kellen Quinton, came to StoryCorps to talk about how they remember her, and the challenges she faced when she first became Chief.

Gina Olaya and Kellen Quinton at their StoryCorps interview in Oklahoma City on September 27, 2021. By Castle Row Studios for StoryCorps.
Top Photo: Wilma Mankiller in June of 1992. Credit: Getty Images

Originally aired October 8, 2021, on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

Where I Come From

A lifelong journey working on the American railroad.

Barnie Botone

Barnie Botone was 22 years old when he got his very first job on the railroad. Nearly a hundred years prior, his great-great grandfather Guipago, a chief of the Kiowa Tribe of the Great Plains, was imprisoned by the U.S. Army and taken away by train during westward expansion. Botone looks back on the beauty and the tragedies on the American railroads, and the strength he needed to return day after day.

Presented as part of the all-new StoryCorps animation season “This Land,” stories to transport you across America.

Listen to Barnie’s original StoryCorps interview.

Para subtítulos en español, haga click en el ícono de YouTube en la esquina derecha, y escoja “Spanish” bajo la opción de “settings” y “subtitles/CC.

My Father, the Giant

“He could swear with the best of them — it sounded like music.”

Thompson Williams & Kiamichi-tet Williams

Caught in a thoughtless act of cruelty, a young man learns a lesson in compassion from his father, a larger-than-life tribal leader of the Caddo Nation and a veteran of World War II. Years later, the man passes that lesson down to his own son.

Thompson Williams was growing up in Oklahoma as one of eight children during the period he describes, when his father Melford captured his imagination and set his moral compass. Thompson came to StoryCorps with his own son, Kiamichi-tet. “My Father the Giant” brings their conversation to life.

Listen to Thompson and Kiamichi-tet’s original StoryCorps interview.

Para subtítulos en español, haga click en el ícono de YouTube en la esquina derecha, y escoja “Spanish” bajo la opción de “settings” y “subtitles/CC.

The Bookmobile

Growing up in the 1960s, Storm Reyes lived and worked in migrant labor camps across Washington state. When she was 8 years old, she began working full-time picking fruit for under a dollar an hour.

At StoryCorps, Storm shared stories of her difficult childhood with her son, Jeremy Hagquist, and remembers the day a bookmobile unexpectedly arrived, opening up new worlds and bringing hope.

Click here to listen to Storm and Jeremy’s original StoryCorps interview.

Para subtítulos en español, haga click en el ícono de YouTube en la esquina derecha, y escoja “Spanish” bajo la opción de “settings” y “subtitles/CC.”

This interview came from a partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Every year, StoryCorps records with all ten IMLS National Medal winners, including Pierce County Library in Washington State, where Storm and Jeremy recorded.