May 5th, 2014 Last Updated on: May 5th, 2014
Interview by Dr.Dawn Karima,PhD, Native American Culture Editor
Johnnie Jae Sisneros describes herself as “a brown ball of fury”! This dynamic activist and Magazine Staffer paused to share insights with Powwows.com about her work at NATIVE MAX MAGAZINE. She shares with us her love of Powwows, desire to eradicate stereotypes and the need for a magazine for Natives by Natives.
Q) It's great to visit with you!!! What are some of the facts you'd like us to know about you?
A) My name is Johnnie Jae Sisneros and I'm the Managing Partner/Midwest Regional Director for Native Max Magazine and a member of EONM (Eradicating Offensive Native Mascotry).
Q) What is your Native heritage? Tell us some of the things that mean the most to you about being Native?
A) I am Jiwere-Nutachi and Chahta, Oklahoma born and raised. You know, for me what I appreciate most about being Native is family and the sense of community you have regardless of where you go in Indian Country.
Q) When we look at the magazines out there today, it seems as if none of them truly focus on Native Americans. What inspired Native Max to make us the focal point?
A)Well, Kelly Holmes created the magazine because she was tired of not seeing Natives being represented in the magazines that she loved. So, Native Max was born from the idea of creating a platform that would give natives authentic representation with a focus on fashion, of course.
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) The typical issue of Native Max Magazine incorporates fashion, style, entertainment, art, health, education, current events as well as other cultural and inspirational stories. The most important ideas and insights that we promote through Native Max is that we are so much more than the stereotypes and that we have a tremendous amount of talent and we have extraordinary individuals, businesses and organizations that deserve to have their stories told. What I love most about what we do so knowing that we are creating a media outlet that is 100% Native and for Natives. Our writers, photographers, models, designers, musicians, actors and actresses, etc are all Native, which is important in being able to provide an authentic narrative of who we are as people.
Q) What are some of the lessons from your Tribal heritage that keep you spiritually centered? How do those internal ideas appear in your magazine?
A) Hmmmm, I guess that lesson would be to always remember who I am. It ties into the magazine really well because our motto is “Stay Connected to Your Culture”. As indigenous people we walk in two very different worlds and it's important that no matter where we go or what its is we decide to do with our lives that we don't lose the connection that we have to our culture, to our people and to our lands.
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) Name it and we've managed to overcome it. Seriously, you know I don't think people realize how much work goes into a magazine. When I first applied to join the Native Max team, I was thinking, “Awesome, I can just write, send in my story and Pesto Kadoo, I'm done”. However, the reality is that it takes a lot of time, patience, money and it can get overwhelming, but we have a great team. No matter how dire things have seemed, we manage to pull through wiser and stronger than we were before. As for when did I realize that this is what I truly wanted to do, I don't know. Honestly, it feels like this is just the way it has always been and hopefully, always will be.
Q) How can we find, order, purchase your magazine?
Native Max can be found online at:
As for purchasing the magazine, we are a digital publication at this time and we have links on our website where the issues can be purchased.
Q) What do you think distinguishes your magazine from the other magazines in its category?
A)I think what really distinguishes Native Max from other magazines is that we are really careful about the way that we portray our native women, especially given that we do focus on fashion. Our philosophy is that you can be beautiful, sexy, confident and strong without have to bare it all, so to speak.
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'm always hoping that we have something in the magazine that will inspire our younger generations to flex their talents and to take a chance on a dream that they have, whether it's to be a musician, artist, fashion designer, models, or to go college and get a degree. Whatever that dream is, I'm always hoping that we have something they can relate to that will motivate them to try. We try to feature a diverse range of topics and people because our hope is that what our readers will discover about our people and our culture is that we are a people of boundless potential and talent and that we ARE still here.
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) I love attending powwows, but I haven't danced since 1999. I was the 1998 Otoe-Missouria American Indian Exposition Princess and after my reign was over, I retired. I loved dancing and it was a difficult decision make, but at the time I physically couldn't continue due to my SLE. Although I am going to try and get back into it this year. What makes a good powwow? The food. Just kidding, kind of. Here in Okie, when I go to a powwow the first thing I do is hunt down the meatpies and then find a good spot near the grand entry point. For me, a meatpie, a good grand entry, and tiny tot competitions make for a really good powwow. As for my favorites, Taos Powwow is by far one of the most beautiful and I'm quite fond of the Comanche Nation Fair. Growing up however, my favorite powwows were always Perkins, Pawnee, Ponca and, of course, the Otoe-Missouria tribal encampment. Every year, since I moved back to Oklahoma I've been determined to make my way back home during powwow season, but every summer I end up back in Taos.
Q) What do you wish we knew about you that we don't already know?
A) I engage in Hashtag Activism, which is basically the using of hashtags (#notyourtigerlily, #mmiw, #nokxl #supplythefront) to discuss issues of significance and raise awareness across social media. I'm very tenacious and not afraid to stand for what I believe in, which I guess is why in some circles I'm known as the Brown Ball of Fury.
Q)Thanks for the great work you are doing! Folks can also enjoy a podcast of my interview with you on my Native Radio Show, A CONVERSATION WITH DAWN KARIMA anytime at http://talktainmentradio.com/podcasts/Conversation%20with%20Dawn%20Karima%20022414.mp3
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