Native Lights is a weekly, half-hour radio program hosted by Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe members and siblings, Leah Lemm and Cole Premo. Native Lights is a space for people in Native communities around Mni Sota Mkoce — a.k.a. Minnesota — to tell their stories about finding their gifts and sharing them with the community.
On today’s show, we talk with Leslie Harper, who is a member of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, and a passionate advocate for language preservation and revitalization. Growing up, Leslie Harper loved hearing her Grandparents and relatives telling stories in their Native language. This sparked her own path as a language learner, eventually leading her to co-found an Ojibwe language immersion school in Leech Lake.
A self-described policy-nerd, Leslie Harper connects the dots between personal values and public policies and tirelessly fights against oppressive educational systems that are not in alignment with what tribal community members want for the next generation.
From classroom teaching to administration, Leslie has worked in many roles, including currently serving as the President of the National Coalition of Native American Language Schools and Programs.
Leslie Harper was featured in the Emmy-winning Twin Cities PBS documentary “First Speakers: Restoring the Ojibwe Language”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RooWZc4lLok
Native Lights: Where Indigenous Voices Shine is produced by Minnesota Native News and Ampers, Diverse Radio for Minnesota’s Communities with support from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage fund.
More from Native Lights
- Dani Pieratos’ Journey to Reclaiming Food Sovereignty.Her passion for reclaiming Native food sovereignty leads her work and is driven by a care for community health and undoing the effects of historical trauma and colonization.
- Corey Medina: Connecting With Community Through MusicToday we chat with Corey Medina, a blues-rock artist from Shiprock, NM, and member of the Áshįįhí clan of the Diné Nation. His band, Corey Medina & Brothers, has a reputation as an on-stage powerhouse, bringing its blues-tinged rock and roll to stages across Minnesota.
- Native Representation at the Great Minnesota Get-TogetherIn this week’s show Leah and Cole are live from the Minnesota State Fair with two great guests. We discuss Native representation at the fair and beyond. Our first guest today is Andy Vig! Andy is an enrolled member of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, who is the director of SMSC’s community center, called Hoċokata Ti, which opened in 2019. We also catch up with Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan (White Earth Band of Ojibwe), who appeared on our first State Fair show back in 2019.
- Jamie Becker-Finn’s Path to Bringing Community TogetherToday we’ll chat with State Representative and Entrepreneur Jamie Becker-Finn (Leech Lake). Recently she celebrated the opening of her coffee shop – Makwa Coffee. We talk with Jamie about the first few weeks of Makwa Coffee, how she got the idea amidst the pandemic and how the community has supported Makwa so far.
- Marisa Miakonda Cummings’ Gift for Leadership and Empowering Native WomenOn today’s show, Leah and Cole chat with Marisa Miakonda Cummings (Umonhon). She’s the President/CEO of the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center. The MIWRC empowers Native women and families to exercise their cultural values and integrity, and to achieve sustainable lifeways, while advocating for justice and equity.