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Changing Seasons


MATIKA WILBUR: Hello, friends, relatives, Matika here. Welcome back to all my relations. This is the final episode of season two. We did it. We made a podcast during a global pandemic. And all of you, our glorious supporters helped us through it. And we just want to say we love you for it.

ADRIENNE KEENE: We're just so grateful for everyone joining us on this journey for season two. And we're really proud of the work that we have done and just so thankful for all of the folks who spent time to talk with us, all the conversations that we got to have. And we also wanted to take some time on this closing episode to sort of reflect a little bit, talk about what's been going on behind the scenes, because there's a lot happening and what y'all can expect from the podcast moving forward. And there are definitely some exciting and new updates.

MATIKA: It's an interesting thing because we launched season two back in April and we had plans of doing live podcast recordings over the summer. We were going to go to IIA. and do a big shindig party live recording there. We had plans of traveling to do more shows. And then, you know, as the pandemic happened, we had to figure out how to record remotely, how to get guests to record remotely, how to function while staying home every day. I know for me that was a huge thing. I was like suddenly grounded after years and years and years of travel. So, you know, big, big, big changes in like the production side of the podcast. But we still managed to do it. We put out 12 episodes. We have another one coming out now, no,this is the last one.This is the last part of season two. But I think we touched on some really great topics. You know, we talked about the Mauna most recently and Thanksgiving. We talked about voting and being an indigenous artist, our connection to land and wellness. And, you know, I think overall it went pretty good. What do you think, Adrienne?

ADRIENNE: I mean, I think so. I know we had started out broadly with this idea of wellness, and that was going to kind of be the theme for the season. And as things shifted, we brought in more conversations and new ideas into that. But I really think the lessons that come out of these episodes are really important and kind of timeless and things that are going to help us as we move into this new stage of 2021 and a new settler administration and trying to think about how to continue the resistance, how to continue the fight, how to continue the work that we have been doing for a very long time. So I think the the conversations we had in season two really lay that groundwork in a in a great way.

MATIKA: Yeah. And, you know, and on a more personal note, I know we've kind of been in the same boat in that I signed a book deal. We signed a book deal actually with the same editor with Kaitlynn from Ten Speed Press, which is an arm of Penguin Random House. And I have been in this office attempting to write 5000 words a day besides doing this podcast. That's like the goal of every day. And so I got to tell you, you know, like I try to get up at like 4:00 in the morning and I try to write from like four till about like nine or ten. And then I get on the peloton, I try to peloton these booty cheeks into a higher position. And then and then, you know, I get to eating and feeding Alma and if I'm lucky, you know, if I'm lucky, I get to maybe like a 4000 a day word limit. And then I try to do all this stuff for the pod, too. And so on a personal level, I've been just trying to keep my production super high, but also feeling like I don't know about you, but it's hard for the home to be like the workplace, the office and like my coworker is is my man and my mom and, you know, trying to figure out, like the family dynamic of taking care of a baby while trying to write while also trying to, like, stay wholethy and hell and hell.Wholethy and hell, no, healthy and whole cause, you know, it's challenging. I know that you've been doing the similar things, you know, like writing a book. Your pandemic situation is different than my pandemic situation. The one thing I should acknowledge about also the difficulty of this time is the amount of funerals that I'm going to you know, like we had a massive loss in our community this week, a woman who sits with our people as they're making the transition to the other side. And she's done that for my relatives, for my family, for my community. You know, she's like one of those people that goes and sits with the bodies overnight and prays for the bodies all night long. And that's just one of many, you know, like we've lost many people in my own family and I think I've been really deeply impacted by these generational knowledge keepers in our communities that we're not getting to put to rest in the way that feels like the appropriate way, like the traditional way, like we all don't get to go and sing them out and bring them to all four corners of the longhouse. And so I've I've felt like thereʻs a whole different kind of trauma on top of trying to be productive during this time. That has also been incredibly challenging for me. And and the thing that makes me feel whole and healthy and well is ceremony. And not being able to have a sweat, not being able to go to the lodges are also contributing to what feels like ongoing trauma. And I take comfort in knowing that I'm not alone in this moment. You know that this is a collective moment we are all experiencing. But that doesn't change the fact that it's happening and that it's that it's real, you know, and then when you compound that with what's happening politically, you know, that it's like-

ADRIENNE: It's too much.

MATIKA: You know, it's too much. So anyway, I just thought I would say I think sometimes when we hear from people, it's easy to put on rose colored glasses, especially on social media and like, put up pictures on my Instagram of myself making bread. But the truth is, like there's also all of this like real daily struggle going on. And I think it's powerful to acknowledge that and say it out loud. And I think it kind of takes some of its power away.

ADRIENNE: This time has just been like overall one thing after another, and I think that's how it's been for so, so many of us and it's hard to think back even like when we started the season, how different my life was then versus how it is now. And so the biggest transition is that I am now single and living by myself, where at the beginning of the pandemic I had a partner and we were living together. And that has been really hard because it means that I am literally by myself every single day. Luckily, he did not take our dog. So it is me and Mochi all day every day. Mochi and I have grand conversations about the world here. He knows everything that's going on. But yeah, so I think that has been really hard because like you were saying, Matika, all of these things that were missing in terms of like being in community with one another, like being able to share spaces, I don't have that as like an outlet to be a part of my day to day life. And before we used to, we both were on the road so much. It's so strange to me that I have not been to T.F. Green Airport in like 10 months or something, wild. It's just like so weird. I used to be there literally like every other week, like I knew the girl at Starbucks, like we said hello to each other, like we had a relationship and now I haven't been there. I hope she's OK. But in those in that travel, I got to it was my reset. It was my way to be around other native folks, because out here on the East Coast, like, our communities are really small and they're very different. And in Providence, I don't have a very big native community. So it was my chance, like when I would fly off to do these talks, like all of a sudden I got to hang out with friends and relatives and, like, amazing native students and get to, like, be filled up in that way. And I haven't had that. And then I would get it in the classroom and I would get to be able to teach my amazing students and like be with them in person and get that energy and be able to, like, see them and just share that space. And I haven't had that. And so it's just been it's been hard, very isolating and a lot of ways. And on top of that, as you mentioned, trying to write a book and by not one book, I mean two books.

MATIKA: Girl.

ADRIENNE: I know I know the most. The the book that's coming out first is the book that I'm working on with Ten Speed Press. It is moving full speed ahead. It's called “Notable Native People, 50 Indigenous Leaders, Dream Makers and Change Makers from the Past and Present”.

MATIKA: OOh.

ADRIENNE: It's a illustrated book. So it's going to be illustrated by Ciara Sana, who is the amazing artist you all know well, because she's the one who does all our amazing podcast art. Ciara is the illustrator for the book. She is doing portraits of each of these 50 indigenous leaders, dreamers and change makers. And then I wrote short little like profile mini biographies for each of them. And then throughout the book, there are also these like spreads that are like settler colonialism 101. And like who belongs where I breakdown, like blood, quantum and tribal enrollment and representations matter and current issues in Indian country like that kind of stuff. And then a spread on like Alaska and Hawaii, because there's Alaska, Alaska Natives and Kanaka Maoli folks in the book as well. So it's been so exciting. But I was trying to write that in the midst of a breakup, in the midst of all of the everything shutting down, trying to teach online, and so it's just been a little wild. So while I've been working on this book, which is, again, very exciting coming out in October, I'm sure we will talk about that. I also have this academic monograph that has been causing me anxiety and stress for, oh, I don't know, like eight years at this point that Iʻve been writing it. I talk about I've talked about academia before on the pod, and it is a weird, strange world where only certain things are valued as productivity. Only certain things are valued for this process of tenure, which is what everything is working towards as a junior faculty member, as an assistant professor, you're working towards this day where you submit this massive dossier file of everything you've ever done in your entire academic life. And they send it off to senior faculty members around the country who evaluate that dossier and decide if you are worthy of having a job for the rest of your life, which is, you know, not a small thing, and I talked about it on the New Beginnings episode, but there's this committee called Tenure Year Promotion and Advancement Committee TPAC, and I think of them as the the Brown University, like Illuminati Supreme Court, like they sit in a room and they, like, debate your worthiness and then vote on it. So they're the final stand. So all of that is to say that I have to write this academic book in order to get tenure. There's like no ifs, ands or buts around it. And for folks who are not in academia who look at me and like my public work from the outside, it seems like I am very productive. I have this awesome podcast with you where we get lots and lots of listens. I have a blog that gets hundreds of thousands of page views and I have a Twitter that people listen to or that people read and all these things. None of that matters to, to academia. It doesn't. And in some ways it's seen as a distraction. It's seen as a detriment to my scholarly career. So in order for me to hit the the mark of what I need for tenure, I need to write this academic book and I need to publish some academic articles, both of which I have been slacking on. So it causes me so much stress. Like I literally have nightmares about TPAC and about tenure. And because for me, my gaining tenure at Brown is not just about me and my job security. I'm the only native person in my department and one of the only native faculty on campus getting tenure is about representing for native people in these spaces. It's that I want to be sure that there's a native faculty member on campus who can take care of the native students, who can support them, who can teach the classes in indigenous studies that need to be offered, who can continually push the university in challenging university to explore its role in settler colonialism and what it means to have a relationship with the land that it's on. So it's not just about me wanting a job for the rest of my career or feeling like I need