In This Episode
A murder case sparked an investigation into the treaty rights of five tribes. But another case — a simple case about an adoption — could actually dismantle America’s tribes as we know them.
- Slate: The Court Got Baby Veronica Wrong
- Dr. Phil: Adoption Controversy: Battle over Veronica
- Tulsa World: Dusten Brown makes first public comments since ‘Baby Veronica’ custody battle
Rebecca Nagle: When Michelle Bender was just a month old, her mother realized she couldn’t take care of her, so she went down to Tulsa County DHS and signed adoption papers relinquishing her parental rights. Michelle was placed in foster care. The first foster placement complained that Michelle, who was still an infant, was a problem child and cried too much. But her second foster family became devoted to her quickly and forever.
Michelle Bender: I was the youngest sibling of four children and I was the most spoiled because I was the baby.
Rebecca Nagle: Michelle was two years old when Susan and Charles Robertson adopted her.
Michelle Bender: My parents are non-Native. Throughout this interview I will refer to them as my parents because they are my parents, and they’re the ones that loved me, nurtured me and raised me.
Rebecca Nagle: Despite the love and support she got from her family, Michelle always felt like there was something missing.
Michelle Bender: I always had a sense of belonging within the walls of my home. But when it came to outside of the walls of the home, the reality of my race really became an issue.
Rebecca Nagle: As a Native kid, Michelle wasn’t accepted by white students.
Michelle Bender: As a child, I had made attempts to associate with children that looked like my family members, but I was never allowed to go play with them outside of school.
Rebecca Nagle: But growing up removed from her culture and tribe, she didn’t fit in with Native kids either.
Michelle Bender: When I attempted to make friends with children that I looked like I was also rejected. Most of the time they call me an apple because I didn’t know or understand what it was to be a Native person.
Rebecca Nagle: That’s an insult used to tell a Native person they aren’t ‘Native enough’.
Michelle Bender: It really put me into a identity crisis.
Rebecca Nagle: Michelle didn’t know it, but she was growing up not far from her tribe. Michelle’s mom worked at a local grocery store and during the summers, Michelle would tag along. Every day the same elderly man would come by. She remembers him vividly.
Michelle Bender: I’d recognized him, my mom had always said he was OK for me to talk to, and so he would come in and sit down and we’d just talk.
Rebecca Nagle: They had a bond that neither of them understood at the time.
Michelle Bender: Later on, he had told my mom that I looked familiar to him. He didn’t know why, but I looked familiar.
Rebecca Nagle: Michelle knew she was Native, but she never knew which tribe, until she was 16. That year, she asked her mom to take her to Oklahoma City to unseal her adoption records.
Michelle Bender: And so my mom and I made an appointment in Oklahoma City to have my permanent records opened, and we found that I was a Seminole Indian. And so we then took the records to Seminole Nation and I was an enrolled member.
Rebecca Nagle: Those records had another piece of vital information.
Michelle Bender: Well, on my original birth certificate it had my biological mother’s name.
Rebecca Nagle: With the name, for the first time in her life, Michelle started and the only place she could think of, she called information.
Michelle Bender: And I said, are there any families in the Tulsa area that has this last name? And she said, yes, there was one. So I called it and a man answers and I introduced who I am and why I’m calling and the phone drops.
Rebecca Nagle: That man was her grandfather. Her grandmother picked the phone back up and told Michelle that she always knew she would call someday. Soon, the family arranged a visit.
Michelle Bender: They come down to where I lived. We all visited. And so one of my most fondest memories from my grandfather, you know, from the very first time that I met him was he told me, and he he would tell all kinds of little stories, but the one that stuck out to me was the story of the turtle.
Rebecca Nagle: Michelle was finally experiencing pieces of her culture, but that meeting also brought up difficult feelings for her.
Michelle Bender: I asked them, you know, the very first question I asked when I met them was: why didn’t somebody look for me, why didn’t somebody want to adopt me? And both my grandparents and my uncle said that they wanted me, and that my uncle looked at me and said: I wanted you.
Rebecca Nagle: That’s when Michelle learned the man she had been visiting with all those summers outside the grocery store was actually her great uncle, her grandfather’s brother. That whole time, he had no idea that Michelle was his relative. In fact, he had tried to adopt her when he heard his niece wasn’t going to keep Michelle. He went down to the Department of Human Services and filled out all the paperwork. He wanted to raise her from the beginning, but they wouldn’t let him. That was in 1977, just one year before Congress passed a law called the Indian Child Welfare Act, or, as it’s often called, ICWA. It requires that when a Native kid is up for adoption, they’re prioritized to be placed with a family member, a tribal member or another Native home. Michelle went into foster care before ICWA was created, but her adoption was finalized after, late enough that looking back, Michelle knows that if ICWA had been followed in her case, her life would have been really different.
Michelle Bender: And so that really, as an adult, frustrated me because there was so much that, throughout my entire life I struggled with. I had a severe identity crisis because I wasn’t white, but I lived in the white world. I wasn’t Indian, but I was integrated into the Native world. I didn’t fit in either. And so I went through an entire lifetime of not knowing who I was, my culture, my heritage or anything. And had ICWA been followed in my case, I would have been with a relative. I would have kept my language. I would have kept my culture. I would have known my heritage. I, you know, the stories that my grandfather had told me that I had never heard, I would have had my whole life.
Rebecca Nagle: You’re listening to This Land, a podcast about broken promises, tribal land and murder. This year, the Supreme Court was supposed to decide whether half the land in Oklahoma is Indian country. But in a shocking twist, they postponed their decision until next year. The fate of this land still hangs in the balance. From Crooked Media, I’m your host, Rebecca Nagle, citizen of Cherokee Nation. In this episode, we’re not going to focus on Carpenter v. Murphy. Instead, we’re taking you to the next battleground for Native American rights. Like the Murphy case, it starts in one place and ends up somewhere completely different. You’ll see similar tactics from the opposition and hear some familiar voices, like Lisa Blatt.
[clip of Lisa Blatt] You are rendering these women second class citizens with inferior rights to direct their reproductive rights and their, who raises their child.
Rebecca Nagle: But the story I’m going to tell you in this episode has even bigger stakes. There’s a small group of people working to take down the legal structure upholding Native rights in this country, and they found a sneaky way to do it. It all centers around one law, the Indian Child Welfare Act. But to fully grasp the gravity of this threat, we have to start with ICWA and why it was created in the first place. ICWA was passed in response to a crisis. Native kids were being adopted out of their families and tribes at alarming rates. Here’s Chrissi Nimmo, citizen of Cherokee Nation and the Deputy Attorney General of our tribe.
Chrissi Nimmo: ICWA was passed in 1978 by the United States Congress. And research leading up to the Indian Child Welfare Act in the congressional hearings found that 1/3 of all Indian children in the United States were in out-of-home placements, and between 85% and 95% of those children were in non-Indian or non-relative placements.
Rebecca Nagle: This wasn’t a coincidence. It was the result of federal policy: the Indian adoption project. Kids were taken from their homes just because their parents were Indian. The policy with the very definition of institutionalized racism.
Chrissi Nimmo: We know from testimony during the passage of ICWA that many of those practices were very coercive. For example, a mother would have two other children already in her home and be told if she didn’t place this baby for adoption, that all of her children would be taken by social services. Both federal and state governments believe that the best thing for these children were to get them away from their families and away from the reservation and integrate them in, into kind of mainstream white American society.
Rebecca Nagle: In other words, this was another U.S. policy aimed at assimilating Native Americans and slowly chipping away at tribes. And that’s why ICWA was created. The law works in three ways to keep Native kids with Native families. First, to take away the rights of an Indian parent, there has to be proof that they pose a threat to their child. Second, ICWA gives priority for placement to family members, other tribal members and other Native homes. And last, the law gives tribes jurisdiction over their citizens who end up in the child welfare system. While the law sounds like a straightforward way to protect Native kids, it’s become controversial in recent years and that controversy started with the case you may have heard of, especially if you a fan of Dr. Phil in 2013.
[clip of Dr. Phil, Narrator] They adopted a Native American baby until the tribe stepped in.
[clip of Dr. Phil] They had to turn her over.
[clip of Dr. Phil, woman] How do you explain to a two year old that you might not ever see them again?
[clip of Dr. Phil, Indian Lawyer] You want to commit cultural genocide, steal a people’s children.
[clip of Dr. Phil, Adoptive Dad] We were told we couldn’t adopt them because we are white and they are Indian.
[clip] That’s not why—
[clip of Dr. Phil] What I hear you saying, is what’s best for the tribe and not what’s best for the child.
[clip Narrator Dr. Phil] Next, Dr. Phil.
Rebecca Nagle: They’re talking about the Supreme Court case, Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl. It was a custody battle over a child named Veronica. She never asked to be the center of a national media storm or a Supreme Court battle. Before she was born, her mother put her up for adoption, but her father, Dusten Brown, didn’t know about it. And that was a problem because before an adoption can go forward, ICWA requires that notifications are sent to the father and the tribe. The adoption agency did send Cherokee Nation a notice, but it was missing some crucial information.
Chrissi Nimmo: The notice we received, though, his first name was spelled wrong and his date of birth was wrong. I think if either of those would have been correct, we would have affirmed that he was a Cherokee member.
Rebecca Nagle: But without the correct information, Cherokee nation didn’t realize Veronica was one of their own.
Chrissi Nimmo: Interestingly, in trial, the mother stated that when she heard that information, she knew it was wrong, told the adoption agencies and the attorneys involved that it was wrong.
Rebecca Nagle: But the adoption agency never corrected the information. If it had, Veronica would have never left Oklahoma.
Chrissi Nimmo: They simply proceeded as if Veronica were not an Indian child.
Rebecca Nagle: She was adopted by a white couple in South Carolina. Dusten was notified of the adoption just days before being deployed to Iraq. He signed the form because he thought he was giving custody to his ex-fiancée, Veronica’s birth mother, not to a white couple in South Carolina. But once he realized Veronica was actually going to live with strangers, he panicked. He was able to pause the adoption thanks to a Relief Act for service members. Just a week later, he left for Iraq.
Chrissi Nimmo: The media couched it as this, this wonderful, caring, upper middle class adoptive family who took in this child, the only home that she had ever known, and here comes, you know, deadbeat Indian dad trying to use this special law to give him special protections.
Rebecca Nagle: The media made it seem like Matthew and Melanie Capobianco, the adoptive couple, were the real victims.
[clip of Dr. Phil, Adoptive Mom] When we walked out of the door she cried after us and held her arms out after us.
[clip of Dr. Phil, Adoptive Dad] Do you think this change was in the best interest of this child?
[clip of Dr. Phil, Adoptive Mom] Absolutely not.
Rebecca Nagle: But a family court in South Carolina said Dusten Brown’s parental rights couldn’t be terminated under ICWA unless there was evidence he threatened the well-being of his child and there was none.
Chrissi Nimmo: So the court ordered that ICWA applied, his parental rights could not be terminated, that he was a fit parent, and that it was in the child’s best interest to be returned to her biological father.
Rebecca Nagle: Veronica was two when she met her dad for the first time. Chrissi was there.
Chrissi Nimmo: And I think even, even at that young of an age, like seeing someone who reflects what you look like and then whatever, just kind of innate sense that you have of, you know, this is my family. And she thrived in that home. I saw her often during the time that she was here.
Rebecca Nagle: For the next two years, Veronica lived with her dad in Oklahoma while the court battle continued, and that’s where they thought she would stay. Until the case went to the Supreme Court.
[clip of Lisa Blatt] If you affirm below, you’re basically banning the interracial adoption of abandoned Indian children.
Rebecca Nagle: This is Lisa Blatt. She represented Oklahoma in the Murphy case. Remember when I told you that she’s a go-to lawyer for anti-tribal interests in the Supreme Court? The Baby Veronica case is one of the reasons why. She represented the adoptive couple, for free. And back, then she used scare tactics too.
[clip of Lisa Blatt] You are relegating adoptive parents to go to the back of the bus and wait in line if they can adopt. And you’re basically relegating the child, the child, to a piece of property with a sign that says: Indian keep off, do not disturb.
Rebecca Nagle: And it worked. Cherokee Nation and Dusten Brown lost.
Chrissi Nimmo: The court found that because Dusten never had legal or physical custody of Veronica, that the ICWA provisions that prevented the termination of his parental rights didn’t apply to him.
Rebecca Nagle: More legal procedures followed in state courts, but after her family had done everything they could to keep her, the day came when they had to say goodbye. After living with her dad and grandparents for half her life, Veronica returned to the Capobiancos in South Carolina. Chrissie was there that day.
Chrissi Nimmo: And the decision was made to do the physical transfer that afternoon. We ask that he be allowed to have two hours with her and they told us we had an hour. While we were getting ready to walk out the door, Dusten’s dad, Tommy, collapsed. He had what, what we thought at the time had been a heart attack. We later learned that it was, you know, panic attack. I think it was a broken heart. But, you know, we talked about who was going to do this.
Rebecca Nagle: Veronica’s family felt like they couldn’t hand their child over.
Chrissi Nimmo: I was one of the few people in the room outside of Veronica’s family who she knew and knew by name and so I told them that I would. And so I carried her outside to an SUV and they had a car seat in the back seat and I put her in there and helped him strap her in her car seat and told her that her dad loved her. And I remember, especially now that I’m a mom—I always tell people when I talk about this story that had I been a parent at the time, I don’t know that I could have done that—but I think about how my child would act if they knew that they were leaving. And you would expect them, I think, to be loud and maybe irrational and crying and that wasn’t the reaction that she had. She simply sat with her head down and she was crying. There were tears running down her cheek but she wasn’t making any noise and she wasn’t talking. And that was the last time I saw her in person.
Rebecca Nagle: We’ll be back with the rest of this story after a short break.
Rebecca Nagle: Just like Carpenter v. Murphy started with a murder and turned into a case about half the land in Oklahoma, Baby Girl started with an adoption and turned into something much bigger. By the time Murphy got to the Supreme Court, everyone knew the larger issues at stake and that’s mostly what the media reported on. That never happened in baby Veronica’s case, the public still thinks it was just a high profile custody battle, but that’s not the whole story. While the media missed it, some people who were fighting ICWA at the Supreme Court had a much bigger goal. They didn’t just want Veronica to end up with her adoptive family, they wanted to take down ICWA and tribal sovereignty with it. Take Paul Clement. He argued against ICWA next to Blatt in the baby Veronica case. He said that the adoption process for Veronica had been held up for one reason and one reason only: because she was Indian.
[clip of Paul Clement] And that’s what makes this child an Indian child here, it’s biology, it’s biology combined with the fact that the tribe, based on a racial classification—
Rebecca Nagle: And that might sound logical: treating people differently based on race is in most cases illegal. But here’s the problem, ICWA isn’t about race. This is Chrissi again:
Chrissi Nimmo: It’s purely based on whether or not the child has a political relationship via tribal membership to their tribe.
Rebecca Nagle: Your average person thinks of Native Americans as a racial group, but that’s not how the laws that protect Native rights work. We’re actually a political group. We are citizens of nations, not members of a race. Just like I have certain rights as a citizen of the U.S. or as a resident of Oklahoma, I have rights as a citizen of Cherokee Nation. Our rights as citizens of tribes are determined by our Nation to Nation relationship with the U.S., which has been established and defined by the more than 300 treaties the U.S. has signed with us. So ICWA is about citizenship.
Chrissi Nimmo: It only applies if either the child is enrolled or parent is enrolled and the child’s eligible.
Rebecca Nagle: But opponents to ICWA don’t see it that way. They argue that ICWA is based on race and therefore the law violates the Constitution because the government is not allowed to treat people differently based on race. This argument is very dangerous for tribes. I’ll let Matthew Fletcher explain why. As you recall from other episodes, he’s a law professor and citizen of Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians.
Matthew Fletcher: I mean, they’re going directly at the heart of the political relationship between the United States and Indian tribes, which is the legal and constitutional basis for most federal statutes that are enacted in relation to Indian affairs.
Rebecca Nagle: If ICWA is declared unconstitutional because it treats Native Americans differently based on race, it stands to reason that many other laws would follow. One example: the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. It gives tribes the right to build casinos and places where non-Native developers can’t. And here’s where things get interesting. There’s a back story to Mr. Clement that you need to know. At the same time he was arguing the Baby Veronica case, he was also representing a non-Native casino developer who wanted to stop a tribe’s casino from opening in Massachusetts. The developer wanted to build there, but the state gave the tribe first dibs. Clement sued. In Massachusetts, he argued that when the state gave the tribe preference over a white developer, that was unconstitutional because it was based on race. And then in the Baby Veronica case, he argued that ICWA was unconstitutional because it was based on race. I wanted to ask Paul Clement myself why he argued against ICWA, but he didn’t respond to multiple interview requests. If his argument is part of a larger strategy, it’s a smart one. It’s much more compelling to say that a law is unfair because it’s harming an innocent child, than to say it’s unfair because it’s preventing a rich casino developer from getting richer. But this equal protection argument, it goes way beyond casinos.
Chrissi Nimmo: I think the end goal is larger than ICWA. I think the end goal is to get a case to the Supreme Court and ask the Supreme Court to find that Indian law is based on race and not on political status. And, you know, we’ve talked a little bit about the different areas that affects: gaming, criminal jurisdiction, environmental issues, water—those types of things. All of those issues. If ICWA is race based, so are they.
Rebecca Nagle: This could destroy the legal structure, defending Native rights. Every law Congress has ever passed to protect tribes and enforce our treaty rights could fall. The future is scary if we don’t win this battle. Sure, there would still be Native people, we could still have parades and powwows and culture nights, but it would be the end of tribes as we know them. It’s the same fight my ancestors Major and John Ridge faced generations ago. It’s the fight for tribal sovereignty. Paul Clement isn’t the first person who tried this race-based argument, but for decades the Supreme Court upheld that Native rights are based on our political status, not race. The decision and Baby Girl was a victory for Clement’s side, but a narrow one. The Supreme Court didn’t rule that ICWA was unconstitutional, but it did do something else. Justice Alito’s opinion started with a sentence that surprised a lot of people. He said that Veronica was Indian simply because she had Cherokee blood, not because she was a tribal citizen. When announcing the decision, Alito echoed that sentiment.
[clip of Justice Alito] This case involves the custody of a young girl who through her biological father, has some Native American ancestry. Specifically, we are told she is 3/256 Cherokee and as a result falls within the federal Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978.
Rebecca Nagle: The Baby Veronica case put blood in the water and now the sharks are circling. Just listen to this press conference held by a right-wing think tank called the Goldwater Institute:
[clip of Goldwater Institute speaker] Though the court majority acknowledged that such an interpretation would raise equal protection concerns, it narrowly construed the law to avoid such a harsh effect. But in so doing, it left fully intact the law to the detriment of many other Native American children.
Rebecca Nagle: The Goldwater Institute has been funded by conservative heavy hitters like the Koch brothers, the Mercer family and the DeVos family. They typically focus on your bread and butter conservative issues. But two years after the Baby Veronica case, they created an entire department to take ICWA down. The Goldwater Institute announced that it wanted to end, in their words “the separate and unequal treatment of Indian children”. Timothy Sandefur, Vice President for Litigation at the Goldwater Institute, says their main concern is the welfare of Native children.
[clip of Timothy Sandefur] Due to the compromises that the statute makes between the interests of children and the interests of tribal governments, ICWA actually ends up harming Native American children.
Rebecca Nagle: But he’s making the same arguments about race that we know could upend the legal structure protecting native rights.
[clip of Goldwater Institute speaker] ICWA provides a separate and substandard set of rules for a particular racial category of Americans.
Rebecca Nagle: And Goldwater is trying to challenge the law wherever it can.
[clip of Timothy Sandefur] In litigation in about a half dozen cases in state and federal courts on issues relating to ICWA—.
Rebecca Nagle: We reached out to Mr. Sandefur about all those cases, but he wouldn’t talk to us. Most of their ICWA cases get thrown out because their arguments contradict more than a century of established law and precedent that governs the relationship between tribes and the US. But in a case in Texas in 2018, their fringe legal arguments stuck.
Chrissi Nimmo: So the Brackeens are a foster family in Texas and a Native child who was taken into state custody by the state of Texas was placed in their home. That child has a Navajo mother and a Cherokee father. So ICWA applied to the case and Navajo Nation located a Navajo home that they wish to move the child to.
Rebecca Nagle: But the Brackeens wanted to keep the boy, even though a family on his reservation was ready to take him.
Chrissi Nimmo: And that was when the legal challenge to ICWA started.
Rebecca Nagle: Lawyers for the Brackeens made the same argument, but this time the judge agreed.
Chrissi Nimmo: It was the first time that any federal court has found that ICWA was unconstitutional because it was based on race.
Rebecca Nagle: That ruling was appealed and the case is now in front of the 5th Circuit. That appeals court could throw it out and it would die there. Or the case could keep going and land in the Supreme Court, the same court that’s ruled against ICWA before. And that has enough power to turn the legal structure defending native rights inside out.
Chrissi Nimmo: So I do think that it should be a call to arms to Indian Country that, you know, this is a small group of people coming after our children and if we can’t stop this, we can’t stop them from coming after anything else.
Rebecca Nagle: There’s one other person who doesn’t understand that Native Americans are a political group: President Donald Trump. Last year, his Health and Human Services Department argued Medicaid access for Native Americans is unconstitutional because its special treatment based on race. If that wasn’t enough, before taking office, Trump’s transition team proposed privatizing all remaining Native land to ease the path for oil and other resource extraction. Basically Allotment 2.0. And last fall, his Department of the Interior took away the reservation of the Mashpee Wampanoag, the tribe Clement had been fighting on behalf of that casino developer. The tribal casino was shuttered and Trump became the first president since Truman to take tribal land out of trust. So how did attacking federal Indian law become a bread and butter issue for the right? One possible answer is: oil.
Matthew Fletcher: Non-Indian energy interests really would like to limit the scope of tribal powers so that they don’t have to comply with tribal regulations.
Rebecca Nagle: American Indian reservations hold an estimated 20% of oil and gas reserves in the United States. And that’s not all. Reservations also hold half of all uranium reserves and about a third of the coal west of the Mississippi. So if the Supreme Court struck down ICWA, it would be a game changer. Right now, mineral rich lands are held in trust for tribes. Companies can’t mine or drill there without the tribe’s consent. But if laws that give tribes so-called special protections are unconstitutional, then the current roadblocks to extraction on reservations would become a free for all. It’s no small thing given how much our land means to tribes. It holds our people and our way of life. But it’s also literally no small thing. In 2009, the Council of Energy Resource Tribes estimated energy resources on tribal land were worth about 1.5 trillion dollars. The stakes couldn’t be higher. If the Supreme Court were to strike down ICWA, it would pave the way for more adoptions of Native children outside our culture. But it could also set off a legal chain reaction that threatens the future of tribal sovereignty. This is our last episode for a while. We’re as eager as you are to find out the Supreme Court’s ultimate decision in Carpenter v. Murphy. Check out thislandpodcast.com, for more resources, and make sure you subscribe to this podcast. As for me, I wasn’t prepared to wait another year for the decision, but now I have to. Will, the Supreme Court ultimately affirm our reservations, or will our land be taken away from us, again? I don’t know. History has shown me too much. I know the law is on our side, I also know that’s not the only thing that matters. But I have hope, too, I hope that more people are paying attention. As basic as that sounds, visibility is what Native Americans need most. When Native rights are in front of the Supreme Court, or being debated in Congress, few people are watching and it allows those who work against us to face zero consequences. Carpenter v. Murphy might have not made headlines like other Supreme Court cases this term, but I’m hoping it’ll stay in your mind, because once you know what’s at stake, it’s hard to forget. It’s hot in Oklahoma now, muggy, July hot. We had a lot of rain this spring, flooding actually, so everything is extra green. I’ve been away and it feels really good to be home. Last weekend, I was up visiting family and took a little detour to stop by the cemetery. Nothing’s changed. Everything was like always: the cows were munching on the grass on the other side of the fence, the sun was beating down, and the flowers that had been poking out in early spring lost their buds. When Major and John Ridge signed the Treaty of New Ochota, President, Andrew Jackson promised this land would be ours for as long as the waters run and the grass grows. From where I stand, those waters are still running and that grass is still growing. In eastern Oklahoma, our tribes are still here and this land is still ours.
Rebecca Nagle: This Land is written and hosted by me, Rebecca Nagle, citizen of Cherokee Nation. From Crooked Media, Mukhta Mohan and Tanya Somanader are the executive producers. From Neonhum Media, Gabriel Lewis is our producer, Katherine Saint Louis is our editor, and Jonathan Hirsch and Vikram Patel are the executive producers. Sound design and mixing by Vanessa Lowe. Natalie Rinn is our researcher. Laura Bullard is our fact checker. Our theme song is composed by Jarod Tate, citizen of Chickasaw Nation. Additional music from Blue Dot Sessions. Podcast art by Keli Gonzalez, citizen of Cherokee Nation. Additional production support from Fire Thief Productions, including Nathan Young, Citizen of Delaware Tribe of Indians and Cherokee Nation, Jeremy Charles, citizen of Cherokee Nation, Shane Brown, citizen of Cherokee Nation and Melissa Lukenbaugh. Special thanks this episode to Aaron Daugherty Lynch.