Today’s guest is Anjela Barnes, the vice president of the Accokeek Foundation. In her work, she helps preserve and protect Piscataway park, located in southern Maryland on the Potomac River. This is part of the traditional homelands of the Piscataway people, of which Anjela is a member.
As you’ll hear in this episode, host Eric Clayton met Anjela at Loyola University Maryland. She was on a panel discussing what justice looks like for Indigenous people — and what injustices have been perpetrated throughout our history.
And while the conversation certainly focused on the need for justice, one theme kept resurfacing: Too often discussions around issues of Indigenous communities are limited to the mere reality that Indigenous people are not relics of the past but in fact members of our present community with joys and challenges and hardships and triumphs just like anybody. Yet, many of us are still surprised to learn that there are Indigenous folks next to us in line at the supermarket or the next booth over at the diner.
And so, what you’ll hear today is a delicate dance, a paradox almost. Anjela and Eric discuss how Indigenous people are more than just stories, more than a window into the past. And yet, at the same time, without understanding and asking after those stories, without looking through that window, we cannot grasp the unique experiences — and, as such, the unique injustices and struggles — of Indigenous communities in the present. We cannot reduce people to a single story, and yet we still must page through those many chapters.
This is an important conversation — and we hope you’ll find it insightful. If you want to learn more about Anjela and her work at the Accokeek Foundation, visit www.accokeek.org.