Lyla June: Spotlight on an Indigenous Oral Artist, Musician and Academic Honoring Her Legacy Through Oral Storytelling

For Native American Heritage Month, Lyla June Johnston contributed oral poems to “Our America: Indigenous and Urban,” an episodic visual journal of Indigenous men and women sharing their modern Indigenous experiences, 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 in Plaza de la Raza in Los Angeles. “They had consulted with indigenous peoples.

“When we were working together, I could tell that they had really tried to capture real stories of real people that didn’t fit stereotypes of what people think natives are,” she continued.

Johnston said spoken word creation is important to Indigenous communities.

“[Spoken word] comes from the heart, and it’s here, now, in the moment, ”she said.

“You can write words and you can publish them and print them, but it doesn’t come from a person’s throat, heart, lungs and bowels,” she said. “While oral history – as conveyed – you connect with that person speaking.”

Spotlight on the storyteller: Lyla June
Lyla June is an Indigenous musician, scholar and community organizer of the Navajo, Cheyenne and European lineages. His dynamic, multi-genre presentation style has engaged audiences around the world towards personal, collective and ecological healing.

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

She is currently pursuing her PhD, focusing on revitalizing indigenous food systems.

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.

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