May 18th, 2015 Last Updated on: May 18th, 2015
By Dawn Karima, Native American Culture Editor
Q) It's great to visit with you!!! Thank you for your service!
A) Thanks! I am an Army Veteran, and I went to college using my GI Bill. I have a bachelor’s degree in Editorial Journalism (print) and minors in English and Native American Studies from South Dakota State University. All of that and a $1.50 and I could get a cup of decent coffee most places. You see, I don’t think any of that makes me any better than anyone else, I just have a couple pieces of paper in a hope chest that say at one point in my life I spent some time and money on an education that I am blessed to use to help others with, and I chose to wear a uniform and boots for a four year hitch.
I am the mother of three amazing young people, a son and two daughters, and grandmother of two boys.
Our publication is a totally volunteer enterprise. I make nothing, my contributors make nothing, the magazine is a free download, or can be ordered as a hard copy print from the site we use to publish. The cost is set by the printer and there is never any mark up on it.
Q) When we look at the magazines out there today, it seems as if very few of them truly focus on Native Americans. How did you decide to create a magazine that makes us the focal point?
A) The answer to this is actually very simple; I have several aunties who kept after me wanting to know what I was doing with my writing, and my promotions manager- Celeste Long Elk from Standing Rock asked me if I thought it was possible to create our own magazine. I am all about anything being possible, so we came up with the name- Restoring the Circle Magazine- as a nod to my Celtic roots as well as drawing on the Native importance of circles and wheels.
My dream job in school was to work at the Dakota Journal, but since they closed their doors, I was forced to explore other options. I have known for many years I wanted to work with and share the stories of Native American people, but didn’t want to write everything myself. I created the space, and have been abundantly blessed to have so many talented writers, photographers, and contributors join me on this journey.
Q) What can we expect from a typical issue? What do you think are some of the most important ideas and insights that your magazine promotes?
A) This is a hard question as I don’t know that we have been at this long enough to have a “typical” issue. We began publishing in August of 2014, and have done one issue a month, and two full length special sections- one for a story by Corey Flood, and one for the Dakota 38 Riders which was predominantly pictures contributed by the riders and a gentleman named Ron Hamm.
Each month though, you will find one or two interviews with interesting people, poetry by a native writer Art Song, several pieces of creative writing, and some ads for native businesses and artists who have allowed us to promote them. Our goal is to have a family- friendly publication that appeals to all age groups.
Q) What are some of the lessons from your heritage that keep you spiritually centered? How do those internal ideas appear in your magazine?
A) I walk the red road as the keeper of a chanupa. That path is as much of a responsibility as this publication is. For me, both are honor duties I take very seriously.
While I grew up in church, I don’t ever remember being comfortable there, when I came to the circle, for me, it was very much like finding my way home. I have always had a faith that there is something greater than us humans; it just took some time to find the way I was comfortable with to access that connection.
As far as how that comes out in our publication, I pray, a lot. Each issue is a bit of a ceremony- from finding stories, to editing the work of our contributors, to balancing work and family responsibilities, to trying to be healthy enough to get it all done, each issue is a struggle, a blessing, and our gift to those who choose to read it- a ceremony.
I believe my job as editor is to make my writers and contributors look the very best that I can. To help them achieve all that their writing can be. I would hope that some of the writers I have will take their work to other editors and publishers and are able to say this is my portfolio, I want that job!
At the end of the day, what that means is that I am a bit of a grammar nazi, but I hope that it helps my writers. I always hope that people enjoy our pictures as well, but for me, it is the words that are most powerful and important part of the publication.
Q) What are some of the obstacles you had to overcome in order to move forward with your magazine? How did you know that this was what you truly wanted to do?
A) The first and probably biggest challenge was finding a name. We spent several months talking with elders and thinking about it.
Next, for a while there seemed to be an issue with me, a non- native, heading a publication focused on Native people and stories. It was very hard for me to choose to do this because I am aware that there are many very talented, educated native people out there who would be equally if not more qualified to do what I am doing, however with few exceptions, there doesn’t seem to be very many of them doing it. Because of that, for me, this is an honor duty- something I do from my heart, to the best of my ability each month.
Each month there seems to be a new set of challenges that arrive about the time of publication. We are always looking for new writers and contributors; I would honestly love to find someone who can do layout and has the software to help out so that I could focus more on the editing and maybe have the time to do some writing myself, and goodness knows, the goal is to actually be out ON the 15th of the month.
For now though, the reality is that I am a one woman show- I do all of the edits, all of the layout, and add a few grey hairs to my head as the 15th slides by and things aren’t quite done because of sick kids, injuries, deaths, etc., I also have a full time job that is often more than full time, so I am usually working on the magazine when I should be doing something sensible like sleeping.
All of that said, I absolutely LOVE working on this magazine, and every month it is a blessing to share the work of people I am honored to call friends. I honestly don’t think I could do this if I didn’t love it so much.
Q) How can we find, order, purchase your magazine?
A) You can find us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/RestoringtheCircle and each month we will post a link to access the publication; and you can go directly to our printer MagCloud and our collection can be found at http://www.magcloud.com/browse/magazine/797877
You can read the magazine online through them, “buy” a free PDF download, or buy a hard copy print magazine through them. To access the PDF and print versions, you need to register with magcloud. By all accounts, the print version is very good quality, and the site is very secure.
To contribute or ask questions, I can be reached at [email protected]
Q) What do you think distinguishes your magazine from the other magazines in its category?
A) I think two things make us different- first, the quality of the writing, and second, the fact that we are doing this totally free as a way to contribute/ give back to the community. We would love to run flyers for pow wow’s, culture classes; artist’s, drum groups, etc., and all of it runs free.
Q) What do you think your magazine will teach its readers? What do you hope that they will discover about Native People and Culture?
A) I started this magazine with the hope that we can learn to see each other as simply people. I have learned in life that there are good and bad people of all colors, religions, and backgrounds. I have also learned that at the end of the day, we all need food, shelter, clothing, clean water, clean air, and food to eat. We all, regardless of color, have family stories, people who love us, and responsibilities.
I feel there are enough other places in the world to find the things that divide us, and I would hope that within our pages people can find hope, joy, and something to fight for, together.
Q)Powwows are an important part of life for our audience. Do you ever attend or participate in powwows? What do you think makes a powwow a good one? What are some of your favorite powwows!
A) Yes, I do attend pow wow’s! Not nearly as often as I would like, but I do make two or three a year. I don’t dance, but do honor my brother and sister veterans by dancing in grand entry or for the honor songs every once in a while- (usually when someone asks about the patches on my camera case or otherwise recognizes me. I have learned to keep a shawl handy or to wear skirts, just in case). I am usually there with my camera looking for cover shots, or on a bead- hunting expedition.
I don’t think I am qualified to talk about what makes a good pow wow, but I will say that two of my favorites are small, traditional ones- the Keepers of the Sacred Tradition of Pipemakers pow-wow in Pipestone, Minnesota that sadly had its last year last summer; and the Pow Wow in Lincoln Park, Michigan. They, along with the SDSU powwow, and the Flandreau Santee Sioux Pow wow are where you are most likely to run into me because they give me a chance to reconnect with family and friends, and to check out the awesome vendors.
Q) What do you wish we knew about you that we don't already know?
A) I believe that everyone has a story, and with a little help, they can tell their own stories in their own words. It is truly my honor each month to share what we receive from our contributors, and ultimately, I hope at some point to be able to share the work of native youth. I believe that their voices are very important, and I would love to share their words with the world.
I read, a lot. My favorite book ever is N. Scott Momaday’s “Man Made of Words,” perhaps because each time I read it I find new levels of wisdom within the pages, and perhaps because it speaks to the importance and power of words as well as the silences that allow us to hear them and feel them.
At the end of the day, I always wish for more time to write. I know so many amazing people, and have so many things that I think deserve some time and attention, but for now, my work is second to making sure the submissions from others are taken care of first.
Finally, I do believe this is probably more than I have ever said about myself, all at once, ever. Thank you so much for inviting me to share with you. Mitakuye Oyasin.
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