Category Archives: Story Tellers

“Boozhoo! Ojibwe-Speaking Puppets Hit the Airwaves”

Michael Lyons, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, is a writer, illustrator and puppeteer who has taken the Ojibwe language to community radio and YouTube with his puppets, Nanaboozhoo, right, and Natasha. (Photo courtesy of Michael Lyons)


“Puppeteer Michael Lyons teaches language and culture mixed with comedy….They also take phone calls from ‘celebrities’ like Keanu Reeves, Anthony Fauci and Sylvester Stallone!” Dan Ninham, ICT, December 13, 2021

Excerpt: “Heidi Holton remembers the day Ojibwe puppeteer Michael Lyons called in to the radio station where she worked.  She’d been following his puppets, Nanaboozhoo and Natasha, on YouTube, and commenting about their use of the Ojibwe language and culture.

“He said, ‘How about ‘Boozhoo Nanaboozhoo’ on the radio?’” she recalls. She stopped a moment to think. “Hmm. Puppets on the radio? That might just work!”

And it has. A five-minute radio show, ‘The Boozhoo Nanaboozhoo Podcast,’ is now featured regularly on the morning show at KAXE/KBXE community radio in Bemidji, Minnesota, where Holton is news and public affairs director.  It’s one of a growing number of platforms for Lyons and his puppets to reach new audiences…They also take phone calls from ‘celebrities’ like Keanu Reeves, Anthony Fauci and Sylvester Stallone.”

Lyons, a citizen of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, has written and illustrated a number of children’s books, comic strips and comic books, and a coloring book in the Ojibwe language.

“Writer, illustrator and puppeteer Michael Lyons, Ojibwe, wrote his first children’s book, “Little Cutie: A Teddy Bear’s Vision Question,” about a ragged teddy bear searching for its identity. (Illustration courtesy of Michael Lyons)

He also has a podcast on YouTube that airs daily at 8 a.m. central time that goes  beyond teaching the Ojibwe language, delving into a range of issues…‘I always wanted to be either a rock star or a cartoonist as a kid and a grown-up, and didn’t really think anything of puppets until this show,’ he said. ‘Once I started doing the voices for the characters, I reached way back in my experience in high school speech and theater programs at Laporte High School.’

Writer, illustrator and puppeteer Michael Lyons, Ojibwe, has written a number of children’s books and comics teaching the Ojibwe language. The 2013 book, “Dog and Ma’iingan,” teaches readers how to count in Ojibwe and introduces words for certain animals. (Illustration courtesy of Michael Lyons)

“Boozhoo Nanaboozhoo’ is clean, family-friendly comedy, but it is not a spin-off of ‘Sesame Street’ in any way,” Lyons said. “We don’t swear or talk about sex in a bad way during the hour-long, live-streaming show, and we will teach a few phrases, but along the way, Nanaboozhoo and Natasha discuss anything.”


NM Tribe Turns Casino into a Movie Studio!

“A small New Mexico tribe has opened a movie studio in a former casino that it hopes will lure big productions.”  R. Contreras, Indian Country Today

Cheyenne and Arapaho filmmaker Chris Eyre, talks about Tesuque Pueblo’s new film studio in Santa Fe, N.M.-Photo- AP: Russell Contreras.


Excerpt: Tribe transforms old casino into movie studio, Russell Contreras, ICT

The Tesuque Pueblo recently converted the building near Santa Fe into a movie studio campus called Camel Rock Studios with more than 25,000 square feet of filming space.

The tribe’s lands feature stunning desert and the iconic Camel Rock formation in the red-brown foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and tribal officials said outdoor filming can take place on 27 square miles of the reservation.

The tribe with about 800 members decided to open the studio after scenes from the Universal Pictures western movie ‘News of the World’ starring Tom Hanks were filmed last year in the Camel Rock Casino, which closed in 2018.

Universal’s use of the casino for filming helped convince tribal officials to transform the empty building into studio space, said Timothy Brown, president and CEO of the Pueblo of Tesuque Development Corporation…Cheyenne and Arapaho filmmaker Chris Eyre, a Santa Fe resident and an advisor to Camel Rock Studio, said the studio’s unique aspect is that its former makeup as a casino provides the site with pre-made infrastructure that can be used for filming different types of movie scenes…Older movies filmed on the Tesuque Pueblo include the 1955 western ‘The Man from Laramie’ starring James Stewart and the 1988 ‘Young Guns’ with Emilio Estevez and Kiefer Sutherland…Tribal officials plan to create internships and movie training programs for Tesuque Pueblo members and hope that the studio will foster a new storytelling movement, Eyer said.”

Indian Country Today: Resource Sites for the COVID-19:

Are you a Native student whose college or university has been closed or switched to online classes? Visit this spreadsheet for resources involving technology in Native communities. It is updated by San Juan College’s Native American Center.

• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Basic information.

Indian Health Service

National Congress of American Indians

National Indian Health Board

COVID-19: Native advisories and event updates

~Democratic Presidential Leader Joe Biden~

“European diplomats and foreign policy experts say that a Joe Biden presidency would restore the United States’ strained alliances with Europe.” Business Insider


Buffy St. Marie’s Book for Kids Shows Her Love for Animals

“Singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie’s long career includes an expansive catalogue of music, art and work in activism. And now she can add children’s book author to that list, with the publication of Hey Little Rockabye.”CBC Radio

Excerpt:Buffy Sainte-Marie’s loveof Animals Shines through her first Picture Book for Kids CBC Radio

“Featuring illustrations by Ben Hodson, Hey Little Rockabye conveys an important message about finding love and acceptance: a young girl rescues a little dog and tries to convince her parents to let her keep him. 

An accompanying song was released and the book features sheet music for readers to sing along… 

Hey Little Rockabye is about the many wonderful pets who need a forever home. We’re hoping that people will consider adopting a little Rockabye of their own through shelters. There are all kinds of reasons why a pet may need a home… Over the years, I came to be not only a dog people but a cat people. So I’m both. Cats and dogs are very different. Most people who start out with dogs they think that a cat is going to speak the same language as a dog. But you can’t train cats, you just have to learn a different language…’As a little girl, I had rabbits. There was a dog and there was a cat that everybody ignored. When I was a little girl I wanted to be a zookeeper — and would envision that would get me close to animals!’

“I’m always longing for a pet. When I’m on the road —I like to go down to the local shelter or the local pet stores where they have pets out for adoption. I like to go in to socialize with the animals who are there…It’s a major commitment and I’m so proud that people are finding forever homes for these animals.”

Indian Country Today:

Resource Sites for the COVID-19:

Are you a Native student whose college or university has been closed or switched to online classes? Visit this spreadsheet for resources involving technology in Native communities. It is updated by San Juan College’s Native American Center.

• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Basic information.

Indian Health Service

National Congress of American Indians

National Indian Health Board

COVID-19: Native advisories and event updates

“I’ve said from the outset of this election that we are in a battle for the soul of this nation. Who we are. What we believe. And maybe most important — who we want to be. It’s all at stake.”~Democratic Presidential Leader Joe Biden~


Native Highways, Hitchhikers, and Healings…

O’siyo. The Hitchhiker’s Diaries, are a series of short stories based on the experiences of Native hitchhikers. The stories are told to a reporter and range from life lessons to Native myths. The following are some excerpts.

Photo- Theprodigaltumour.

Photo- Theprodigaltumour.

Excerpt: The Hitchhiker Diaries… By Cindy Yurth, Tséyi Bureau, The Navajo Times

“It’s been my long-held belief that everybody has a story, which I think you have to believe to end up in journalism. But Navajos seem to have the most interesting stories. When I pick up a hitchhiker, I always ask them to tell me a story. It makes the drive shorter and I get an insight into another life. I usually don’t ask the person his or her name, and I seldom reveal that I am a reporter. You get more honest stories that way.” 

Photo- The Hitchhiker Diaries. Navajo Times.

Photo- The Hitchhiker Diaries. Navajo Times.

The Navajo and the Shalako

Zuni Shakalo spirit.

Zuni Shakalo spirit.

“When I was a teenager, I went to school in Fort Wingate. On the weekends, I sometimes hitchhiked home to Church Rock. One time I was walking along the frontage road trying to get back to school. It was getting dark, and no one was picking me up, so I started running. I would run until I got tired, and then walk. All of a sudden I could make out a real tall shape coming toward me. It was running fast. I had never seen one before, but I knew exactly what it was: a Zuni shalako. The thing was running right towards me. I didn’t know what to do. I looked around for a place to hide, but there was only sagebrush. When the shalako got close to me, it suddenly took off to the north, into the sagebrush.

You know how, sometimes, when you’re really scared, you pretend not to be, to make yourself feel less scared? That’s what I did. I started running after it. I was yelling, “Hey Shalako! Come back here! I’m not afraid of you! I have my own medicine!” Read more…

The Warrior Priestesses

Mysteries of The Anasazi. photo- Rocky Mountain Legends.

Mysteries of The Anasazi. photo- Rocky Mountain Legends.

“If I could have afforded college, I would have been an archeologist. But I never went. So I just kind of do it on my own. I live in a place with lots of Anasazi ruins. When no one’s looking, I go out there and dig around. Sometimes I find new ruins. Sometimes I tell Historical Preservation, and sometimes I just keep them to myself. You know, us Navajos, we’re not supposed to go to the ruins. So I don’t usually tell people I do this.

One day I was digging around this little ruin, and I found a couple of graves. They were both women, tall for Anasazis. They were dressed all in white buckskin, with beautiful belts and necklaces. They were beautiful. Well, you could tell they were beautiful when they were alive.

I just looked at them for a long time. I called them my warrior priestesses. Then I said a prayer and buried them back to how they were before.” Read more…

The Intervention Horse

Photo- Rez Horse by Tom Corey.

Photo- Rez Horse by Tom Corey.

“One time I went to a ceremony and started drinking. I didn’t stop for two years.

One day my son came up to me and said, Dad, if you don’t stop drinking, I’m taking all your stuff. I said, Go ahead! Take it! There’s my saddles over there. There’s my spurs. You might as well take the horse too. One day my son came to me again. He said, Dad, I can’t get that pony to come to me, no matter how I call him. He just hangs his head and stands there.  I went out to the pasture with my son, and watched him call. My pony just stood there and shook his head. I said, No, you don’t call him like that. You have to be gentle, like this. I called my pony. He pricked up his ears, put up his head, and came running to me. My good horse, he had been waiting for me all this time. I started to cry.” Read more…

The Guy Who (almost) Saw Bigfoot

Photo- Bigfoot print.

Photo- Bigfoot print.

“I was drinking with some buddies at a windmill out near Klagetoh. I must have passed out at some point.

I remember waking up for a minute and thinking, ‘OK, I guess I’m sleeping outside. I hope it doesn’t get cold.’

Everyone had left. I only saw my own truck in the shadows. It was a dark night, not much of a moon.

Sometime in the middle of the night, I heard some rustling. Then there was a sound, a human sort of grunt. We had brought some snacks with us, and I thought maybe my buddies had come back to get the food or something. I was still out of it and went back to sleep.

In the morning, I got up and dusted myself off. I looked down and my heart jumped. There was a huge bare footprint in the dirt just a few feet from where I was sleeping.

It looked human but not quite. The toes were too long, and it was huge. Plus it was early fall, too cold for people to be going barefoot. That’s when I got scared.” Read more…

Kudos to the reporter and to the people who provided these wonderful stories. Note that this series goes back several years so you’ll have to search  to read all of the stories.

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”  ~Douglas Adams~


Category: Story Tellers