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Sounds of Sovereignty

Sounds of Sovereignty

The Past and Future of Indigenous Audio Media


April 14-15, 2021 (past event)


Sounds of Sovereignty was a 2-day Zoom mini-conference that explored Indigenous American audio journalism, from radio to podcasts and the future of audio media. The conference featured nationally and internationally renowned Indigenous podcasters, broadcasters, producers, editors, and media scholars. 

Sounds of Sovereignty Program (PDF)

Day 1: Wednesday, April 14th

"Indigenous Radio: Past & Present"

Headshots of Mark Trahant, Peggy Berryhill, Tara Gatewood, and Rhonda LeValdo

Keynote: Mark Trahant, Editor of Indian Country Today 

See See Mark Trahant (Shoshone-Bannock Tribes) is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has held an endowed chair at the University of North Dakota and University of Alaska - Anchorage. He has worked as an editor, columnist, and reporter. His research has been cited in publications ranging from the New York Times to The Economist—and even Teen Vogue. In conversation with Melissa Greene-Blye (Miami), Assistant Professor, University of Kansas School of Journalism and Mass Communications.


Panel Discussion: Indigenous Radio Past and Present 

Broadcast journalists will discuss the enduring power of radio across generations, and why this traditional format is still relevant today. Moderated by Kent Blansett (Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Shawnee, and Potawatomi), Langston Hughes Associate Professor, University of Kansas Indigenous Studies Program and Department of History.

  • Peggy Berryhill (Muscogee), the “first lady of Native radio,” has organized 68 Native radio stations and networks. Beginning in 1973 with Living on Indian Time at KPFA in Berkeley, Berryhill has been a program director at three stations. She is founder and president of the Native Media Resource Center and operates community radio station KGUA in Gualala, California. 
  • Tara Gatewood (Isleta Pueblo/Diné) is an award-winning radio host and producer of the nationally syndicated call-in show, Native America Calling. She is also the voice of the Indigenous Foundation radio program heard on Santa Fe New Mexico’s KSFR 101.1 FM each Saturday.
  • Rhonda LeValdo (Acoma Pueblo) hosts Native Spirit Radio on KKFI in Kansas City every Sunday and freelances for National Native News, which airs on public radio across the country.

Day 2: Thursday, April 15th

"The Digital Future of Indigenous Audio Media"

Headshots of Rebecca Nagle, Graham Lee Brewer, Allison Herrera, and Connie Walker

Keynote: Rebecca Nagle, Host and Producer of This Land


Rebecca Nagle (Cherokee) is an award-winning podcaster, advocate, and writer. Her chart-topping podcast This Land told the story of one Supreme Court case about tribal land in Oklahoma, the small town murder that started it, and the surprising connection to her own family history. Nagle’s writing about Native representation and tribal sovereignty has been featured in the Washington Post, the Guardian, USA Today, Teen Vogue, the Huffington Post, and more. Nagle was recently awarded the American Mosaic Journalism Prize, the largest cash prize for journalism in the United States. In conversation with Rhonda LeValdo (Acoma Pueblo), radio host and journalist.


Panel Discussion: The Digital Future of Indigenous Audio Media  


Audio journalists will discuss trends in digital Indigenous storytelling and how it is reaching new audiences. Moderated by Joshua Miner, Assistant Professor of Film & Media Studies and Indigenous Studies, University of Kansas.


  • Graham Lee Brewer (Cherokee) is an associate editor for Indigenous Affairs at High Country News and a regular contributor to NPR and the New York Times.
  • Allison Herrera (Xolon Salinan) is the Indigenous Affairs reporter for KOSU radio network. As a radio and print journalist, Herrera has worked for PRI's The World, as the climate and environment editor for Colorado Public Radio, and as a freelance reporter for High Country News’ Indigenous Affairs desk.
  • Connie Walker (Okanese First Nation) is an award-winning investigative reporter, podcast host, and producer at Gimlet Media. Prior to joining Gimlet, she hosted the acclaimed podcast series Missing & Murdered, which focused on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.  


Questions? Contact Leslie VonHolten, Director of Grants & Outreach, at Kansas and Hall Center for the Humanities logos

Sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Humanities Kansas, the Hall Center for the Humanities at the University of Kansas, Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area, KU School of Journalism and Mass Communications, the KU Indigenous Studies Program, and the Western History Association / KU Department of History.

Sounds of Sovereignty is part of the Democracy and the Informed Citizen project, a partnership between the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Federation of State Humanities Councils to support public programming that explores the role of humanities and journalism in fostering an informed citizenry.

We thank the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for their generous support of this initiative and the Pulitzer Prizes for their partnership.


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