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Oklahoma State University
STATE

The official magazine of Oklahoma State University

KOSU explores Native American Culture

Invisible Nations

KOSU radio segments aims to reach audiences beond the public radio realm

Wotko Long, right, and Allison Herrera take a break during the Creek Town to Tulsa Town Bike Ride, an interactive tour of Creek sites.

 

 

 

Oklahoma’s early heritage is a quilt of stories stitched together by the culture of Native Americans. However, many don’t know much about the modern arts, politics and social issues of the various tribes.

 

KOSU paired up with the Association of Independents in Radio to help showcase Oklahoma tribal culture through a program called Localore: Finding America. Allison Herrera, a reporter in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, was selected to join KOSU on this challenge.

 

“This is a program where they pick 15 different producers from all over the country and embed them in a radio station or television station to create a new model for public media,” Herrera says. “The goal of this project is to create something that reaches beyond the public radio realm, another type of platform.”

 

Originally, Herrera hoped to work with a radio station in Minnesota. However, AIR suggested working in Oklahoma as it is home to 39 federally recognized tribes.

 

“This station — KOSU — has been around for a long time,” she says. “I thought it was intriguing. I saw it as an opportunity to do something

different.”

 

The KOSU segment became the Invisible Nations series and has been exploring modern American Indian culture in Oklahoma for the past year.

 

“[Oklahoma] is home to a really large Native American population, but there are no boundaries. It is invisible,” Herrera says.

 

“That is really the reason it is called Invisible Nations. It has nothing to do with them being gone or not alive or not existing anymore. It has to do with the fact that there are nations within Oklahoma where everyone just lives among one another.

 

“So the goal for me was to really understand this part of the country is Indian Country.”

 

The project set out to explore today’s tribal cultures and tell its stories in Oklahoma. Herrera has covered a variety of Native American musicians and artists.

 

“When I wrote the proposal for this project, I kept thinking of all these things I’ve heard from people in the community here [in Minnesota] and how badly they felt they were represented in public media,” Herrera says. “Whenever there was a story focusing on Native Americans, it was always negative. I thought, ‘I just don’t want to tell those stories.’ Those stories are important, but I just felt like there were more complex issues. I’ve just scratched the surface.”

 

Through the process of telling the stories of American Indians in Oklahoma, Herrera says she also has her own goal with this project.

 

“I would like to leave behind some kind of network where KOSU works with some of the tribal media outlets to do some stories or a series,” she says.

 

Herrera hopes to continue working on the Invisible Nations series and with KOSU.

 

“I love working with KOSU,” she says. “The staff members have been super supportive."

 

To read more on the Invisible Nations series, visit kosu.org.

 

More stories like this are available for members of the OSU Alumni Association. STATE magazine is a benefit of membership in the OSU Alumni Association. To join or update your membership go to orangeconnection.org/join or call 405-744-5368.

Uploaded on September 1, 2016

 

GALLERY PHOTO CAPTIONS:

PHOTO #1:

J.D. Colbert talks about Tuckabutchee, a legendary Creek whose cabin sat in what is now one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Tulsa.

PHOTO #2:

Two young Kiowa singers participate in the Native American Youth Language Fair at the Sam Noble Museum in Norman, Oklahoma.