It’s been more than a year since the launch of the Urban Indianz Podcast through thesiouxempire.com, Robert Mehling’s podcast empire.
Mehling produces six podcasts, and decided to get previous Sioux Empire Podcast guest co-host Gabriel Night Shield set up with Urban Indianz. Night Shield is well known for his hip hop career, releasing his seventh album in October, touring the country, and winning several Native American music awards, as well as appearing on MTV.
Mehling produces, edits, and runs the business side of the podcasts from his apartment studio in Sioux Falls, while Night Shield and co-hosts create the content.
Regular Urban Indianz podcast hosts include Night Shield, his friend through the hip hop scene, Levi Hansen, close friend Char Green-Maximo, and Night Shield’s sister-in-law and active community member, Kathy Stands.
Topics have ranged from everything to hip hop to comic books to cultural appropriation to the reality of Thanksgiving to meth and opioid addiction.
A mission of the podcast is to shatter the two stereotypes of Native American people, says Night Shield.
“In the media, I always saw Natives mentioned as the drunk downtown, passed-out person, or the person that was living in the tipi that was super traditional, smoked a peace pipe, and lived off the land,” he said. “It was never the in-between person like myself and hundreds of other people that are just going to work, raising a family, and doing the normal everyday person stuff.”
Night Shield says he wanted the podcast to be the voice of the in-betweener, the “Urban Indianz” of the world, providing a middle ground between the two stereotypes.
One of his personal favorite episodes was ninth episode “Two-Spirit,” a label some LGBTQ+ Native American people identify as.
“To me, the podcast is really a connecting point for not just natives, but non-natives, as well. As people start hearing more and more about us, I hope that it can create that healthy discussion and diffuse the situations that still exist.” -Green-Maximo
Stands moved from the Rosebud Reservation to Sioux Falls in 2002, and says she enjoys the podcast because the group can go from an open chat where they laugh for an hour and a half, to discussing serious topics like meth addiction.
“I just like that it reaches so many people, and it’s given them a fresh look on Native Americans,” she said.
An assumption many people might have about Native people living in urban environments is that they might have just moved there from a reservation, Hansen says, or that life on a reservation is the same for everyone, no matter where they come from.
“The podcast itself helps us deal with that,” he said. “It provides an educated look at the life of a modern Native American, and breaks up the stigma that Native Americans are one way or another.”
Green-Maximo says her favorite episode so far was episode 18, which featured Jennifer White of Post Pilgrim Gallery.
“She’s super passionate, and like us, she’s an urban Native and she’s done really cool work with her gallery,” she said. “It’s cool to see someone bring their vision to life. She’s got so much energy, and it’s cool to be around people like that.”
Green-Maximo says the podcast helps spread the group’s shared perspective, but also highlights their distinct identities.
“I think we all bring something unique to the table with our experience, background, history and culture,” she said. “Living in an urban area, I think we all have a very different story on how we got here and what we think about things.”
“Hopefully, this podcast will bring more awareness and more events to the Sioux Falls area, and create more of a community for Natives here in Sioux Falls,” she said.
For more information, visit urbanindianzpodcast.com.