Spotlight on Indigenous spoken word artist, musician and scholar Lyla June

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Tuesday, November 23, 2021
How Indigenous spoken word artist honors heritage through storytelling
Artist Lyla June explains why she wanted to be part of "Our America: Indigenous and Urban."

For Native American Heritage Month, Lyla June Johnston contributed spoken word poems to "Our America: Indigenous and Urban," an episodic visual journal of Native men and women sharing their modern-day Indigenous experience, presented by ABC Localish Studios.

"I wanted to be a part of 'Our America: Indigenous and Urban' because I could tell the producers had done their homework," Johnston said during a shoot at Plaza de la Raza in Los Angeles. "They had consulted with Indigenous peoples."

"When we were working together, I could tell they had really tried to capture real stories of real people who were not fitting stereotypes of what people think Native people are," she continued.

Johnston said spoken word is important to Indigenous communities.

"[Spoken word] comes from the heart, and it's right here, right now, in the moment," she said.

"You can write words and you can publish them and print them across, but it's not coming from the throat and the heart and the lungs and the guts of a person," she said. "Whereas oral history -- as it's being passed down -- you're connecting with that person who's speaking."

Storyteller Spotlight: Lyla June

Lyla June is an Indigenous musician, scholar and community organizer of Navajo, Cheyenne and European lineages. Her dynamic, multi-genre presentation style has engaged audiences across the globe towards personal, collective and ecological healing.

She blends studies in human ecology at Stanford University, graduate work in Indigenous Pedagogy and the traditional worldview she grew up with to inform her music, perspectives and solutions.

She is currently pursuing her doctoral degree, focusing on Indigenous food systems revitalization.

Celebrate Native American Heritage Month with "Our America: Indigenous and Urban" on this ABC station or wherever you stream: Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV or Roku.

This Native American Heritage Month, ABC Localish Studios presents "Our America: Indigenous and Urban."