Stephanie Hebert Oral History 2020/04/22


Title (Dublin Core)

Stephanie Hebert Oral History 2020/04/22

Description (Dublin Core)

Oral history interview about the Native population, their condition, and their virtual powwows.

Recording Date (Dublin Core)

Creator (Dublin Core)

Contributor (Dublin Core)

Type (Dublin Core)

oral history

Controlled Vocabulary (Dublin Core)


Curator's Tags (Omeka Classic)

Collection (Dublin Core)

Date Submitted (Dublin Core)


Date Modified (Dublin Core)


Interviewer (Bibliographic Ontology)

Liza Black

Interviewee (Bibliographic Ontology)

Stephanie Hebert

Location (Omeka Classic)

United States
Nova Scotia

Format (Dublin Core)


Language (Dublin Core)


Duration (Omeka Classic)


Transcription (Omeka Classic)

This is an unofficial transcription, very lightly edited which was originally done by AI.
Date: April 22, 2020
Interviewer: Liza Black
Interviewee: Stephanie Herbert
Location: Nova Scotia, Canada
Abstract: This is an interview about the Social Distance Pow Wow group that was started
during the COVID time. The interviewee, Stephanie Herbert, gives a lot of information about the
Native powwows and how the native people are coping during the corona time. They are
economically depressed. Also, they cannot gather together and dance in the powwows, so they
are trying to find a workaround for that. They started a Facebook group which immediately
gathered thousands of followers. (
Facebook is trying to regulate them and hold them back from being so influential, she feels. At
this writing it has over 200,000 followers.
Oral History
Liza Black 0:01
I'm Liza Black, and you are?
Stephanie Herbert 0:05
My name is Stephanie Herbert. I'm First Nations Miꞌkmaq from Nova Scotia, Canada, and I am
from Hebrew Massachusetts and I currently live just outside of Dallas, Texas.
Liza Black 0:16
Oh my goodness. Okay, so you're two hours ahead of me. Okay. So, today is super Wednesday
April 22, right, is it Wednesday.
Stephanie Herbert 0:27
It is Wednesday.
Liza Black 0:31
This is part of the pandemic is not being very sure what day it is,
Stephanie Herbert 0:35
it's true. No, it's true they all sort of blend into each other.
Liza Black 0:38
Oh gosh. Absolutely. Okay so, um, I really want to talk to you about the social distance pow
wow but I've never met you before, so maybe you could talk about if you're comfortable talking
about what you normally do for work or what you do, what you did for work prior to the
pandemic and whether that work has changed.
Stephanie Herbert 0:57
Sure. So I'm 20, years old. I said I'm originally from Hebrew Massachusetts, which is about 20
minutes or so north of the city of Boston. I am a wildlife biologist by education I have a master's
degree from New Mexico State University in wildlife conservation and management, and in my
day to day job I'm a civilian employee with the US Army Corps of Engineers as a natural
resource specialist in a park ranger. So I had the dubious honor of being an essential employee.
I'm still working 40 hours a week, and then the social distance pow wow is something that I'm
doing on a volunteer basis, when I'm not at my nine to five.
Liza Back 1:37
Oh wow, and are you doing your work in the way that you did before, are you doing it from
Stephanie Herbert 1:44
No, because of the nature of my job I have to be on site, I, I am also it's not quite law
enforcement but I issued tickets I have a badge. And so I'm required to do patrols out at the lake,
which is about six miles from where I am right now.
Liza Black 2:01
Okay. Wow. So your work has actually increased in that you're doing a lot of volunteer time with
the powwow.
Stephanie Herbert 2:09
Yes, and I have a small business of my own as well so I'm a busy woman.
Liza Black 2:16
Tell me about the small business.
Stephanie Herbert
It's called the talent beading company, I'm a professional bead worker, I make beaded outfits for
in regalia for our dancers. And then I also make day to day wear and statement pieces for all
manner of events, so.
Liza Black 2:34
Oh my goodness. Okay.
Stephanie Herbert 2:37
So is, how does this impact how is the pandemic impacted your small business are you getting
more orders are getting more orders. And initially I was concerned, I'll admit, you know people
are a lot of people are out of work, a lot of people in Indian country because of the fragile nature
and structure of native economies and reservations and things like that. I was very, I was
concerned. However, what I'm seeing is that people recognize that I am a small business. And
they also recognize the that I'm still an essential worker and they, they are in a position where
through either the stimulus payments that have been coming through, or they themselves are
essential employees and their expenses and dramatically dropped that they are able to make
payments towards beadwork and backed out on orders now through July, and the is really helped
us. I donate most of my profits at this point back to the community. For masks, or anything that
they may need. And then I also have sponsored specials through the social distance pow wow.
With that money to give back to those who maybe you don't have a way necessarily to buy
things right now.
Liza Black 3:58
Mm hmm. That's wonderful. Okay, so I guess we should jump into our talk. So maybe you
could. I mean, I have been on pow wow committees have been so lots of pow wows. I love
about, but just for future researchers maybe you could talk about your personal relationship with
how our life. And then maybe talk about how how this came to be the social distancing pow
Stephanie Herbert 4:22
Yeah, and in the theme of it all is resiliency. Native people are very resilient and you find a way.
When I was 12 years old, was when I first entered the pow wow circle. That would have been in
Mo, I'm going to make a liar out of myself right around 2007, somewhere in there. I was adopted
by a Pawnee woman who lives in Southern New Hampshire, just outside of Manchester, And she
said, Do you want to get Apollo.
Unknown Speaker 4:52
12 year old me said sure, you know, why not.
Stephanie Herbert 4:56
And I, at that point I went and I was under the impression that I was just going to watch you
know at least was on a drum. She was POW committee. She was a secretary of the New
Hampshire intertribal council at the time. And so I thought I was going to watch. Well, that was
not what happened. I was dressed out in a northern traditional buckskin set of regalia and put out
in circle, having never been called before. And a lot of times, families start their children, young,
the Polo community is a very tight community and these dancers have this way of life is handed
down through for the aunties and uncles and parents and grandparents, all the way down all the
way down to the littlest kids who maybe can't even walk in.
Stephanie Herbert 5:43
And so a powwow in the way that we think of it is a celebration. It's a celebration of life. It's a
gathering, to have a good time at the end of the day, we're there to laugh, we're there to dance,
we're there to raise prayers for those who can't dance with us or can't be there, whether they're ill
or something like this. And there are sacred moments in the powwow, you know circle in there,
in these events, whether it's a morning song from someone who's passed away, whether it's a
coming out, dance for someone who's coming out of a period of mourning. They're called honor
songs, and they are, they are solemn events, or they can be joyous events we have honor songs
for our high school graduates. For our first responders for our veterans, and we make a point to
honor people in that public setting, but largely it's a conglomeration of dancers singers on large
pow wow drums and on hand drums vendors and merchants selling their wares whether it's been
supplies or finished goods regalia items soaps, you know, all sorts of things in food. And no, you
can't go to a pow wow without a good Indian taco. Or, you know, some button or these sorts of
things. And so it. It's a unique thing where you can be as small as 30 dancers or even less
sometimes it's really raining or I've danced it follows with over 1000 dancers 1500 dancers
coming in, it, it always has the same feeling to it, no matter how many people are there it's a it's a
beautiful, beautiful experience. But, that said during COVID. The, there is no way to social
distance that are pop up. I mean, even the drummer's the drones are two to three feet wide, and
they're shoulder to shoulder sometimes turning this way to make it in. There is no way. And we
look to pow wow for a variety of things, whether it's connecting with tradition, whether it's
connecting with family and friends who we may never see outside of one specific pow wow.
You know it's sometimes it's a spiritual thing where you know I know as a dancer. When we joke
about pow wow hangovers. The days after where you're just completely wiped out and
exhausted. But, but, spiritually, it, it really it fulfills, at least for me, it, it revives me. It just
makes me makes you feel good. On the inside, if that makes sense. And our community misses
that we are a culture built on physical connection we are a culture built on gatherings and
sharing. So Dan Simon's, who's one of our other co founders. This was his original idea. He put a
video out on Facebook, started this group called Social Distance PowWow, and his [first] video
was about 30 seconds long. And he's in Bozeman Montana so it was snowing outside. And he
said, basically that I don't know how this is going to work. I don't know what it's gonna look like
moving forward. But we're going to try and so I messaged Dan and I've known Dan. He's a
wampum vendor I'm actually wearing some of his work right now. And we traded I've done bead
work with him he made my wedding jewelry so we go back and do you need help. In, he said
yeah if you don't mind you know I could use somebody to help me with some posts and
approving members in this. And you can't have a powwow without a good emcee, and that's
where I Whitney, or encounter came in. Whitney rencontre the second excuse me, and he is a
very well known emcee across the western parts of our country. And he was all about it, and we
told him up front look we have no idea how this is going to work this is going to be a really fluid
thing. He's good friends with Dan. And so we and he was on board. At that point, there was 22
people in the group, including the three of us by that Saturday, so that would have been March
Liza Black 9:59
Okay, I was wondering about that.
Stephanie Herbert 10:01
By that Saturday, we had 52,000 people. The following Saturday we had over 100,000 people.
Right now it's April 22, and we are about 150 people shy of 165,000 people, so about four
weeks, five weeks, five weeks. Yes. And so firstly we had no idea when, when I offered a hand.
Not that I would do anything differently. I had no clue that this is what was coming. We have
contests, we have what I shouldn't say contests, we have specials we don't. You know where we
are gifting away money, members of our community or gifting away things. We're not, you
know, getting corporate sponsors or anything like that. And we are completely on volunteer, you
know I don't get paid to do this Dan Whitney, neither of them, and even all the hosts and the
guests that we have none of them have ever once asked if they would be getting paid or not. It's
all for the community and to try to restore some sense of, of togetherness in a time where
togetherness, can be potentially fatal, and in using technology to bring large, large celebrations
together. Even when we physically can't be. Yeah,
Liza Black 11:28
yeah, oh gosh I have so many questions and I'm sure you have so much you could tell me, so did
Dan post that first day?
Stephanie Herbert 11:35
So there was a first, a very first post it sort of started with that 32nd video right. Was that a
personal page or did he actually create a social distance pow wow page and put it on that and
then in RG remember the details of the page was created at that point.
Unknown Speaker 11:50
So can I read in a social distance pow wow page,
Unknown Speaker 11:53
the social distance pow wow group had started. Okay, he posted the video in the group aired it to
his personal page which is how I say okay, okay. And then, and then you were talking about one
of the things you did was to admit people.
Liza Black 12:11
But you set it up so that people could invite people were already in it could invite people. And so
moving all those so you approved 100 and almost 1,0 00 admits.
Stephanie Herbert 12:24
Wow, and Whitney and I, it was a lot, but as with any large gathering of people you know we
worry about unscrupulous individuals, we worry about people who are known for spamming
virus you know just,
Liza Black 12:40
oh yeah.
Stephanie Herbert 12:41
So, we weren't turning people away because they were from another country or, you know,
anything like that it was folks that we knew would be an issue. I mean, I think, In total, we've got
160 some odd thousand people I think we've only had to turn away like 190 or 200 people. It's,
it's not much. Yeah, and we go from every European every major European nation, including
Russia, half of the continent of Africa, India, China, Japan, Korea, Australia in almost every
nation of South and Central America.
Liza Black 13:19
Wow. So, what did you say you did not anticipate the size of this you did not anticipate that is
there anything else you didn't anticipate that was unexpected. And amazingly positive.
Stephanie Herbert 13:33
Well, I mean, just the outpouring of support. I mean, if this had happened or we tried to do this at
any other time, I think it would have fallen on its face. Why, because we could go to the
powwow and we wouldn't deal with technology we wouldn't have to dress in our living rooms
which a lot of people are doing. If there was, it would have wouldn't have worked. And so
people, people are so eager to dress, they are so eager to death for money or not, the hand drums,
the drummers that are coming on. We've got over almost 100,000 posts on that board at this
point unique posts nevermind comments that come flooding in after. And it was just
unbelievable. I mean, we're getting messages from people saying that this has prevented them
from committing suicide. We've got people messaging us that this is the only way that their
grandparents will get to see from death or the last time they saw their family member before they
passed away from any number of reasons was dancing it for the social distance pow wow.
Stephanie Herbert 14:41
I get really emotional thinking about it. But it's beautiful, it's, it's humbling, more than anything,
it's so humbling that you know I'm. Yes, I would say that a lot, a lot more people know who we
are now. A few months ago. But you know what, at the end of the day that doesn't matter, and I
can safely say that about the three of us. The notoriety is not, we don't care what we care about is
that we're able to help, and these dancers are being able to dance. As a side effect to the size of
this page we were able to create social distance pow wow marketplace for all those vendors and
artisans that I was talking about. And that is growing every day hand over fist. And we're getting
messages from vendors saying that this has kept their business afloat. This has kept their lights
on this has kept the roof over their head and. And that is the essence of it is that we're giving
people hope we don't allow politics or virus talker any of that in there. This is a vacation from all
that. It's a place where we don't have to worry. It's a place where we could be ourselves and smile
and laugh and not feel guilty for doing so.
Stephanie Herbert 15:54
And if I could just add something that I mean I couldn't agree more with everything you're
talking about another thing I've really enjoyed about it is that it's self selecting, and perhaps more
accessible i don't know i don't know maybe that's not true, but I really enjoyed seeing folks who
are disabled participating. I saw a man who was deaf, do a drum song and I just found that so
touching. And I, I've seen multiple people with all different types of disabilities participating and
that is just so, so special to me so beautiful.
Stephanie Herbert 16:28
And, and we also are here seeing is folks that are in the hospital and are bed bound individuals
who physically haven't been able to get to a powwow since who knows when because of their
condition, and all of a sudden this opens the door for them again. This. This allows them that
experience, and I think that that's just phenomenal.
Stephanie Herbert 16:48
I really do I need to, I really, really do. It's just been absolutely tremendous to be a part of it and I
came in very early on and I'm so grateful to the person that invited me and I'm so grateful to you
all for, for giving your heart and soul to this. So was is Dan, a vendor because I was hearing a lot
of talk like we were kept planning of how all at our university which of course got canceled. And
I was hearing a lot of talk from vendors who are upset about not getting their deposits back. It
was seen in that group of people. He was okay so I wondered if there was a connection between
that with that issue that that was part of the motivation in doing.
Stephanie Herbert 17:28
There were a few things there. Dan is a man who he puts his community first, first and foremost,
so it was Whitney. They're both exceptionally giving people. And Dan, I mean he all of his
events were canceled for there he's a wampum worker. And for those who aren't familiar, of the
Eastern tribes he's mashing. Yes, he's matched up with people from Connecticut, and we use
wampum in traditional adornment. and it's iconic to the east, everyone who sees it knows what it
is. I'm wearing it my people wore it. And so he travels the country he's exceptionally well known
for his craftsmanship and everything good just got canceled on him. And there was a lot of
backlash, because of the how sudden everything happened that big pow wow such as gathering
of nations in Albuquerque, Denver march in Denver, Colorado. They refuse to return vendor
fees, and they're no small change gathering of nations is $750 for one table is you have two
tables that are now at 1500 dollars and they flatly refused. [The] Denver March is not as much,
and they are still working out exactly what they're going to do. But what it comes down to is that
750 or 1500 dollars that they can't use for food for a roof over their head for inventory that may
expire in some cases like all your all natural soaps and things like this. So, there was a lot of
kickback a lot and I'm concerned for the future of those large pals because of how they treated
their vendors and their artisans. It's it you know Time will tell. And of course as a dancer and I've
event as well. My beadwork is a high I of course want to see them succeed. But I also know that
there's going to be repercussions for what happened. I think from a business point of view, it was
they put all their deposits into their venues, they put in a bunch of non refundable rules, and they
may not physically have been able to and that's fine. But there is no transparency into why
they're refusing. And so, Dan, who was slated I believe for both of those events definitely
Denver March, I'm not sure about gathering. You know, he was concerned now, because his
inventory isn't perishable. But, you know, the time and the effort and the energy in doing it now
what. And so he looked at it in that perspective, and, you know, that was the other reason we
push that marketplace once we got some momentum to help those vendors, because that's their
living. They go from pow wow to pow wow, and that's it. And so we were, we were trying to
reach them and try to help them out. Yeah, thank you so much for speaking to that horse. Yes.
Yeah, I'm not sure that everybody knows that it's that there's that there is a financial aspect to it
for some folks, even for the dancers to write for the dancers that come off the reservations or
even what we term urban Indians and I'm in that camp mean to their income. They are still
dancers and there are some pow wows where the you know the winner of a category might walk
away with three four or $5,000, and they just go from Palo Alto palo. That's not happening. And
so we know the specials are our small way to try to mitigate that part of things, and just try to,
again, financially, fill those gaps, is a byproduct of what we're trying to do.
Liza Black 21:21
So I saw that Whitney posted, two or three days ago I'm definitely losing my sense of time so
bear with me. I think it was, I think it was this week, recently that he said, Hey, this is not
ending, there's no, there's no expiration date on the social distance pow wow so what are you
picturing for the future the social distance pow wow other new angles that you're hoping to work
into this or are the committee. The three of you. What are you thinking about where this is going,
and what you might want to keep in place what you might want to add what you might want to
take away any thoughts about that.
Stephanie Herbert 21:57
Yeah, and until recently, I would have to tell you that we're just acting on a day to day, you know
we're, you know we are keeping the positivity we're keeping the momentum, we're going for it.
Yeah, I mean the only money would come. That's like the money that we get for specials is from
selling t shirts. And we've got some more stuff coming soon for that. But the other thing that
we've found out in the last day or two is that we are going to be moving towards nonprofit status,
so that we would like to formally establish ourselves as a nonprofit, whether that's through fiscal
partnership and sponsorship, or our own Avenue. And then we also are being contacted by some
other pow wows. In the future, who have been trying to figure out how they could move their
canceled in person Palouse online. So there is a lot of communication and we're doing our best to
help other people bring their pow wows online. And if nothing else, you know, we also are a
platform, a constructive, positive platform for things like traditional storytelling language
preservation and Native people telling history in the native voice. What is it, what does it look
like from our side as opposed to the conventional mainstream textbook descriptions about how
things are happening and what the status of our cultures are.
Liza Black 23:22
I love it, I love it. Oh so exciting. It's so exciting the pandemic is terrible, but this is wonderful.
Stephanie Herbert 23:30
In that way we've been picked up by over 100 news outlets at this point. Yeah. And on Thursday
in the national and the local and the international level we had an interview with brute media out
in France, and they're broadcasting all over their Europe, Asia America channels, India. The
Royal Bank of Canada has approached us to do that indigenous persons discussion. And I think
really the like is everyone wants, everyone's talking about the pandemic. and I think this is a very
rare. You know beam of light that cuts through all this heavy negativity, like Since when do you
see a pow wow adapter on NBC Sports national news at six o'clock.
Liza Black 24:12
I'm loving it. I'm loving it I'm loving it, you know I'm loving it.
Stephanie Herbert 24:19
It's exceptional. It is.
Liza Black 24:22
Finally, finally!
Stephanie Herbert 24:24
and it's opening other avenues and doors to more cultural conversations that just haven't
happened, and I think that is another completely unintended side effect of what we're doing. But
you know what, we're going with it, and you know where it's part of the forward momentum to
see where this thing goes,
Liza Black 24:43
Yeah, I couldn't, I couldn't agree more. I could not agree more there's just there's so much
happening and it's it's really, it's really quite remarkable. I mean, you and I probably wouldn't be
talking because you're right, the pow wow circuit is national and there are big pow wows but
mostly, they're small, mostly. They're local, and it would be tough to connect to people like you
and I. Hmm, but in this context, there's there's an absolute connection. Absolutely. Yeah. So I'm
also seeing another thing i'm really liking about the social distance pow wow and the end thing I
like about pow wows. In general, is when a pow wow is diverse. So I'm seeing a lot of regional
tribal cultural representation in the social justice pow wow like I'm seeing California tribes. Mm
hmm. Sometimes, you know, we see a lot of plains culture and powwow, and how those are
always welcoming of any tribal culture, but, but generally it's, it seems to be sort of plains
focused at times. So I I'm really enjoying seeing indigenous people from all over America and
elsewhere. I mean, are you are you feeling that as well and is this is this reaching into Canada
and Mexico. Do you feel it is in school, 100% do you feel like that's increasing digital age is
becoming less and less US based every day is that kind of trending or.
Stephanie Herbert 26:13
So, I'm gonna back up just a quick second just for the future who may not know why plains
cultures. Yes. Yes, is because the concept of a powwow in the way that it's held at least in this
era and time. Yeah, based upon plains style gatherings, right up in the eastern parts of the
country where my folks are from, we use small drums and the water drums maybe this big, you
know, and what are called clappers, and there are pieces of black ash like think like a wooden
paint stick, but made out of ash and tied with sinew on one end and smacked and it makes like a
clapping film. And we would dare to longhouses doing dances that look absolutely nothing like
what we're doing in the sailors coastal cultures in native Alaskans the dawn's the dancers of
Mexico. They don't dance in that big. I call it the big drum persona, it's, it's something
completely different, they adapt to it, and you know I danced it Polo around with the big drums
and that sort of thing. But this has really opened up like my mom for example, I get most of my
date my native NIS through my dad, and you know his parent he's a first generation American.
So, you know, my mom has grown around the northeastern native culture. She has logged into
social business Palau, and has seen Native Alaskan dancing for the first time she's seen the canoe
songs and the bird songs I don't forgive me I don't know what the proper name for that is, but the
coastal Pacific Northwest, with the large dance masks the wooden mask. She's seen buffalo
dances for the first time from the Pueblo nations. She has seen a variety of danza danza being the
dance of the dances of Mexico, and even further south of Mexico and Central America. And then
the our First Nations people they in the same spirit of American house, they use big drums they
in the plains style but what we're seeing is a lot of social songs that are coming out that are
different, you know hand drum songs or rabbit dances or alligator dances, things that don't
ordinarily show up at Ap Apollo. And we're all about it. We are all about it you know we want to
see it, we want it. We want all of that to get out there.
Stephanie Herbert 28:41
We've had some native Siberians that have some dances into awesome we've posted UNESCO.
There's a gentleman who, who's a photographer for UNESCO, and he's up in northern Siberia
and he's actually been facilitating videos from up there to have those dancers show their way,
and the native peoples of Australia, the Maori of New Zealand. We. It's a beautiful aggregation
of indigenous peoples. I wouldn't say, I mean, knowing the inside stats, you know, the
membership is 80 to 85% North America, meaning Canada US and Mexico. Of that it's
predominantly the United States very closely followed by Canada. I suspect that that's a
connectivity thing, you know some spots in Mexico, do not have the ability to access the
internet, like others. But there's a we've got communications and access from all over the world.
And we, is this a little off topic but I'm going to say anyway. It's encouraging people in other
countries to question whose land they're standing on. So, the folks in Germany are asked yes I'm
here now. But who were the Celts or the druids or whomever through their Ireland, I apologize,
but who are the, the cultures there before me. Ah, and getting into those regional indigenous
histories, in that land acknowledgement that we've seen starting in the United States in Canada.
But it's those questions are starting to be asked. Elsewhere, and I think this is phenomenal.
Liza Black 30:22
I'm all for that.
Stephanie Herbert 30:24
Yeah. So, yeah, I love seeing it in, and I can't agree with you more that the regional
specializations that come out. And I think the reason we don't see it, otherwise is because travel
is expensive. Yeah, hotels and food and gas and God. It's sick you break down whatever. So I
think this is a great way to really showcase the diversity that we have,
Stephanie Herbert 30:54
and get it out there. It really is I mean it's just flung the door wide open in in the best way
Liza Black 30:56
Gosh, um, where do you Where do you think it'll be in a year?
Stephanie Herbert 31:09
I don't know. Well, if I could personally speculate. And this does not reflect the views of my, my
partner's because I, we really haven't talked about it. Yeah, of when the virus is over to have an
in person powwow.
Liza Black 31:22
And will we still call it the social distance powwow or would have some other name.
Stephanie Herbert 31:28
I'm drunk, [?] because I think we might just as a memory to remember where this came from and
in the history to that name, even though it's I mean it might be one of those things like you know
when you show a kid a VHS tape today they go What's this, you know 10 years from now,
people might go why they call it a social distance like what is that, but there's a history there.
Here's a, there's a big old pin right there and as a market history, and so I don't know, I guess
maybe we haven't talked about it, and, but I personally I don't think it'll be a year, you know
that's a lot of work. That's a lot of footwork groundwork financial work, but in the future, I
certainly hope so.
Liza Black 32:16
Wow. And do you think do you think it would be some kind of mix of a virtual powwow and an
in person powwow so that the folks who can't be there are there with you somehow I mean is that
Stephanie Herbert 32:32
I mean i i feel like this is what everybody's thinking about is not just in terms of how just in
general sort of what wasn't working, about the way we live before and, and how does this make
us rethink things to make to make life more accessible. Yeah, I think that we're setting a
precedent with having the--they call it the cyber circle, I think I coined that term early on. It's,
pivotal, and you know we've got there have always been groups like Palouse calm, that will fly
into the major pow wows, and they'll set up cameras and do live TV style feeds from Denver
Marsh from crow fare. From these big pow wows. And, you know, it's, this is a different way of
doing it. And, you know, I don't know what that holds for future pow wows because, you know,
we're figuring it out on the fly right now what it means for us, you know, we have a live session
with Midnight Express later on today. And we were figuring out yesterday how we were going to
figure it out today. Yeah, but you know what it's, we're learning and I truly hope that this shows
the populace that we can be more inclusive at our Palouse for those folks who can't who maybe
you know housebound are bedridden or otherwise, unable financially or for whatever medical or
any other reason to get there, and to really share those vibes and that energy, those prayers with
Unknown Speaker 34:09
Yeah. What does it been like with Facebook as the Forum? Has Facebook been helpful. Have
you thought about another forum, I mean obviously you're in, I mean there's so many people
now. But what has it been like doing this on Facebook as opposed to maybe another platform
any, any thoughts about that?
Stephanie Herbert 34:30
Um, so we are also on Instagram and Twitter. But as you can see. Not at all. Actually, and so
that's partially on us we haven't, perhaps push it as well as we could, because we're so wrapped
up in what's going on. Okay. We hit, we call the algorithm wall and about 120 hundred 30,000
people, where Facebook has basically said that we are influencing too many people's news feeds
at one time. And so that they are now instead of every time we post it showing up on everybody's
newsfeed. It won't maybe every other post will show up or every two posts will show up. And it
has dramatically slowed down our membership. Like rates have increased, because the Facebook
algorithm is restricting our content. And that's not unique for us that's any huge page out there
that's not, it's not like they're coming after us. But we have been trying to find ways to create
content into create interactive experiences to more or less override that algorithm. Okay. One of
those things was like last Saturday we had our one month special. We, the 16th of April, social
distance pow wow one month 159,000 and some odd people. We said you know what we need to
do a special for that. So we did, and we had everybody all age groups all categories all classes,
submit a video. The top six from likes loves and reactions went live for Saturday Night Live
Liza Black 36:11
Oh, I remember those
Stephanie Herbert 36:12
Yeah. So what we did then was because we now we've got all their families, we've got their
friends. They are posting videos everybody else's page to come back to our page. And first of all,
everyone had a blast the dancers the families, everybody we got inundated with messages about
how much they loved it. And then the final six. They got a full introduction like you would in a
spotlight special. A big Paolo and the MCs got your name, they've got their numbers. They've
got everything. And we let the public vote by poll, who won for the night. And there were prizes
given and it was an immensely positive reaction and I think that that was a really ingenious way
to work around the limits of the platform of Facebook to continue to engage our audiences. And
so we we recognize that there are limits to Facebook, we recognize that there are some
community guidelines and standards that Facebook has that may be challenging for native
culture, such as flagging and removing any posts with the word feather in it. It could insinuate
the buy sell or trade of restricted items such as Raptor feathers. And so, and I've run into this
other places because why I have e commerce through Facebook with my business, and I have to
be careful about how I word my posts, because Facebook will flag it as against community
standards. So, yeah, so there's a there's a lot of levels to how the platform really guides us, and
that's part of why we went to Instagram, every photo that we post gets bounced off Instagram,
and people can connect with it in a slightly different way. We had to also create a group called
the social distance 49, and I'm not sure if you're familiar with the 49 for posterity. The 49th is the
evening, humor and entertainment. After all, that may or may not be particularly friendly for
small children. And so it's a lot of the adult jokes in the humor that a lot of people just do not
understand, unless you're involved in the pow wow community. And so, in an effort to entertain
and also capture that aspect of pow wow, we create social distance 49, so...
Liza Black 38:43
I need to add that sale.
Stephanie Herbert 38:45
Yeah, go for it. And so there's a whole, there's. In order to prevent our platform from strangling
us, you know, because if we put up necessarily all of the 49 posts in the main group, they'd be
shutting the group down because a lot of folks might be offended they may not understand. And
that's no fault of anyone that's just the nature of it. And so we we were able to partition that off
and prevent issues with community standards and that sort of stuff.
Liza Black 39:17
Stephanie Herbert 39:20
Yeah, we're all over the place.
Liza Black 39:22
You are so there's so that's the first spin off a couple of people have said to me, I feel like there's
gonna be a spin off for native singles, like a native snagging circle. [Snag is Single Native
American Guy.] There's a lot of the Snagging humor and all that.
Liza Black 39:37
Stephanie Herbert 39:38
it's all on 49
Liza Black 39:39
49 is really the native singles.
Stephanie Herbert 39:42
Liza Black 39:49
Wow, I mean, I just who would have ever thought, I mean, it was like this thing where the
minute I saw it, I thought what? within half a second later I thought, this is genius. This is
Stephanie Herbert 1:06
Yeah, But I can't imagine this would have ever happened, any other way. No public gathering of
nations [not sure what the publication is] recently published a day or two ago that they are going
to attempt a virtual power, and their virtual powwow is a complete restream of the 2019
gathering of nations footage that took, and they're basically going to stream it in
high def utilizing a very similar format to what we're doing. So gathering nation saw what we
were doing in the momentum that we gained and they decided, that's what they want to do. They
have no affiliation with us, they never approached us never spoke with us or anything like that.
But it was like it's one of those things where we've turned some big heads, as far as how goes to
say well maybe this could work. And now, other people are trying. We've got other spit like
other groups that are not affiliated with us, that are doing something special, up doing something
similar, like quarantine specials. They're another group and but they have corporate sponsors
they hire head judges, and they do almost exclusively pay out dances and specials and
competitions. There's the round dance. Virtual round dancer so the virtual round ends, and they
do hand drum songs and they specialize in round dances and that sort of thing. And so we don't.
We're not affiliated with them. But we've each sort of found our way and the social distance
power sort of the broad compassing of where quarantine specialist has really taken on the
competition side of things. And, you know, the round dance group virtual round as they've
captured our hand drummers and that sort of thing. So, more specifically,
Liza Black 3:00
Oh gosh, I don't want to keep you much longer I've kept you for about an hour now. I've taken
up an hour of your life and when you explained at the beginning what you're involved in, it's like
what the--. Your hands are full.
Stephanie Herbert 3:19
And that's, you know, it's my day off from my nine to five so I'm, I'm good.
Liza Black 3:24
Oh that's nice that's nice, Is there is there anything I haven't asked you about that, um, that maybe
would be would be good for future researchers to know about being native living through
COVID-19 running a social distance power while being a beater. Mmm hmm.
Stephanie Herbert 3:49
I would say that for, for future researchers who are looking at the impacts of this virus on
indigenous peoples and communities. Reach out to the reservations monitor the printed news
from these reservations, that's where a lot of their information is coming from. they do not have
the virtual resources to go and have online platforms. So if you're if you're looking for really
what what went on in a more reservation oriented capacity. That would be the place to go. And I
can't stress enough to future researchers that if you really want to get a native person, much like
we're doing now to explain. Go find them. Ask them message them, knock on their door. We are
a culture of verbiage, we are a culture that speaks. And, You know, I didn't know if it's
approached in the right way you know you don't look like the paparazzi, they're willing to talk to
you, and they'll be willing to share. And I can see a lot of a lot of this being a lot like not not the
Great Depression not quite on that scale, but something similar. This is a time that has really
marked history for my generation for the generation before me the generations after me, that are
older, that, you know, they've lived through a whole lot more, you know, and the perspective is
very different. But, you know, we will, we as in my generation will remember when the virus hit
and. And where were you sort of like 911, where were you on 911. Everyone remembers when
they I mean I was in the fourth grade sitting in art class and the teacher turned on the television.
And so, I mean, and then that was 20 years ago, you know, so. But yeah, talk to people, don't be
afraid to ask. As long as it's in a good way. People will be more than happy to share.
Liza Black 5:56
Yeah, absolutely. And it's just such an honor to talk with you and to be able to personally thank
you for what you've done for all of us. This is just such a tremendous and unexpected gift to be
able to connect with each other this way, it, it really has saved so many people, and thank you so
much for forgiving of yourself in that way and jumping in and doing whatever it takes to make
this work and make it happen.
Stephanie Herbert 6:27
It's, it's my honor to do so, and I'm humbled to be able to do so. You know, and I'm glad to have
folks like you who are, you know, not only entrenched in the academic world and the science
and history side of things, but also just an active member of the power community so that you
can appreciate both sides, and that you you recognize the need to capture things like this for
people in the future. So, thank you for what you're doing. And if anyone, present, future or
otherwise, wants to reach out, I'm here to talk more if you want to record some more. I'm more
than happy to make myself available.
Liza Black 7:07
Thank you so much, Stephanie thank you so so much and I'm just wishing you and the
committee and everyone in the social distance power. Wonderful tremendous health and
happiness and just thank you so much.
Stephanie Herbert 7:21
You're most welcome you take care of yourself, you'd be safe out there,
Liza Black 7:24
You too, you too. Okay. Have a great day.
Stephanie Herbert 7:27
Liza Black 7:29

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4/22/2020 16:40:28

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