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.
Today, we’re talking with Syngen Kanassatega (Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe) who is a lawyer – his job is the Legal and Policy Counsel for the Mille Lacs Band’s Office of the Chief Executive, a drum keeper, and he’s also well-known on Tik Tok, the video-sharing social media site, with thousands of followers.
Syngen Kanassatega shares why he decided to go to law school, what he loves about practicing law, and how culture and tradition are woven into policymaking and government for the tribe. Syngen shares insights from a few of his favorite mentors, and reminisces about Mille Lacs Band Member “Amik” Larry Smallwood, who deeply influenced him in so many ways. (Leah shares how Amik’s wisdom helps shape this podcast too!)
We also hear how Syngen Kanassatega found a creative outlet on Tik Tok, by bringing tidbits of legal information (about Tribal Sovereignty and more) along with jokes and stories, to the popular social media platform. One recent video took aim at politician Rick Santorum’s ignorance about Native peoples’ contributions to the founding of our country. Check it out here:
Chi Miigwech Syngen for spending time chatting and sharing your humor, legal knowledge, and inspiration!
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.
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More from Native Lights
- Leah and Cole: Sharing Our Gifts and PurposeOn today’s show, we turn the microphone on each other! No guest today… instead, we ask each other some questions about our own purpose and passions, starting with music.
- Christina Wood’s Gift for Busting Bias Through ArtOn today’s show, we talk with Christina Woods (Bois Forte Tribal Nation) who is the first Anishinaabikwe to be the Executive Director of the Duluth Art Institute. Christina is also currently performing in the play The UnPlugging presented by New Native Theatre in Minneapolis.
- Cece Benimon’s Gift for Connecting Kids with Culture & ConservationOn today’s show, we talk with Cece Benimon (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa) who is the family liaison for Anishinaabe Academy, a Minneapolis school with a Native-centered curriculum. Cece shares some of the different ways the school is revitalizing and Indigenizing curriculum.
- Amber Buckanaga’s Gift for Art and Fashion DesignOn today’s show, we have a fun conversation with Amber Buckanaga (Leech Lake Band) who is an artist, fashion designer, and mother. Amber left her career in education, to follow her artistic dreams, which led to sewing, then designing fashions, and eventually the runways of NYC’s fashion week!
- How Visionaries Deb Foster and Mike Laverdure Create Healing SpacesWe meet Deb Foster (Ojibwe), the Executive Director of Ain Dah Yung, and Mike Laverdure (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians in North Dakota), a partner with DSGW Architects. Deb Foster and Mike Laverdure both played leading roles in the creation of Mino Oski Ain Dah Yung, a beautiful new apartment building in St. Paul, where formerly homeless Native young adults can live, reconnect to culture, and get job skills. Mino Oski Ain Dah Yung opened in November of 2019.