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Paul DeMain is a member of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin and of Ojibwe descent. He is part of the Bear Clan and currently lives on the Lac Course Oreilles Ojibwe Reservation in Wisconsin where he is the managing editor and CEO of News from Indian Country and a producer for IndianCountryTV.com. His Ojibwe name is Skabewis, which means “messenger” — appropriate for his profession as a journalist and messenger on behalf of his Native American community.

In this two-part episode, Paul talks about his experience covering the activism surrounding the harmful and contentious Dakota Access Pipeline project, as well as his community’s objections to other extreme extractions of resources such as open pit mining, fracking and tar sand oil processing.

Paul also discusses the way that food sovereignty in Native American communities has become an avenue of activism, explaining that there is much to be gained from encouraging indigenous nations to reconnect with their own rich agricultural history.

“1,400 to 2,000 years ago, indigenous people had garden settings that were more elaborate than anything else you find in North America,” Paul shares, in just one example of how looking back to his ancestors might inform the future of his tribe. “Collecting our wild rice and making sure that the venison is a clean venison, and the fish have clean water has all become a very large circle of activity that has to do with food sovereignty and feeding ourselves.”

The importance of clean venison and clean fish is heightened by the environmentally dangerous fossil fuel projects Paul routinely covers on News From Indian Country — projects that put natural resources at risk. These enterprises result in “great gain for a small group of individuals at a great risk to the people who are dependent on clean drinking water and a clean environment.”

On the specific dangers of pipelines, Paul doesn’t mince words. “It’s not a question of ‘if a pipeline will leak.’ Pipelines leak all the time. The question is, ‘Where will the next leak be? And how big will it be? And how costly to the environment will that leak – or eruption – be?”

We can learn a lot from the indigenous cultures of America. Listen to both parts of this episode at the links above, on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts.


Want more? “Of the many edible gifts native peoples of the Americas have given to the world, the most important is, arguably, corn. And yet, of the tens of thousands of maize varieties Native Americans developed to thrive in every soil, altitude, and climate, most were irretrievably lost.” Read more about a gorgeous heirloom variety of corn, Floriani Red, that was lost for centuries and has been revived.

Henry Brockman grew this Floriani Red Flint corn on his farm in central Illinois.


Transcript: Paul DeMain, Part 1
Air date: May 29, 2017

Transcript: Paul DeMain, Part 2 
Air date: June 5, 2017