‘This Land’ explains existential threats Indigenous people have faced since Europeans first set foot on North America

History May 10, 2022
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Listen to ‘This Land’

“This Land” is an award-winning documentary podcast about the existential threat that Indigenous people have faced since Europeans first stepped foot on the American continent. Enthralling, eye-opening, and riveting in its importance, “This Land” has set its sights on deepening non-Native people’s understanding of the struggle they have faced for centuries: the fight for sovereignty.

Hosted by Rebecca Nagle, activist, writer, public speaker, and member of the Cherokee Nation, this podcast comes directly from the source: from the people who are directly effected by these cases and political climates.

“This Land” is a Crooked Media podcast that is now two seasons long. This first season is made up of 10 40-minute episodes while the second is made up of eight episodes. Each season investigates landmark cases that highlight the deliberate legal and political threats that have been thrown in the way of marginalized and neglected Native tribes. As the most recent winner of the People’s Voice Award at the Webby’s for Crime & Justice podcasts, “This Land” is a look into the stories that are still affecting the future of tribal rights in the US.

While the second season of “This Land” has left people aghast, the first season is what got everyone hooked. From the get-go, it is fascinating. On August 28, 1999, Patrick Dwayne Murphy stabbed George Jacobs and let him die on the side of an Oklahoma road. Well, it actually took place on Muscogee land, the Muscogee’s being one of the five tribes in the state of Oklahoma. Both Patrick and George were members of the Muscogee-Creek Nation, yet Patrick was arrested by the State of Oklahoma.

Patrick’s public defender argued that since the murder took place on Muscogee land, the state could not try him nor sentence him to death. The State argued that the reservation where the Muscogee land sat no longer existed. And if that were to be the case, then the boundaries delimited by Congress in 1866 would mean nothing, and Indigenous tribes that had been forced to walk 5,000 miles on the Trail of Tears in the mid 1800s had their land literally ripped right out from under them again.

While this story starts in 2019, with the Supreme Court deciding the fate of one man and five Native American tribes, “This Land” reaches far and wide to tell us where this story really starts.

The geography of the United States changed vastly throughout the 1800s, and along with that, the geography of Indigenous nations and reservations. The first episode of “This Land” reports on the Supreme Court Case of Sharp v. Murphy as it happened, explaining in detail the immense history behind the State of Oklahoma’s case against Patrick Murphy.

As Rebecca tells us, this court case connects decisions made by the seventh United States President to decisions made by the 45th United States president. It is a story of promises broken centuries ago, promises that some people don’t think matter anymore, but promises that Rebecca knows do still matter.

The second season is just as riveting, heartbreaking, and eye-opening. In it, Rebecca looks at another case that once again threatens Indigenous rights involving the Indian Child Welfare Act — namely, how the far right is using it to dismantle Native tribes. She looks at the case how and why the private adoption industry has been fighting against the act for decades, the long history of federal policies that aimed to break up Native families, and the Brackeen family that saw this all collapse in around them.

“This Land” is engrossing, educational, important, and even disturbing. It’s part-true crime, part-history, and completely relevant. It fills in the gaps of the traditional history classes and political science classes we took in school. This podcast shows the cruel pattern of abuse that Indigenous people have suffered at the hands of the United States government.

The proof of the erosion of Indigenous rights can be found right here in this podcast. Don’t miss out on this excellent podcast from Crooked Media.

Listen to ‘This Land’

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