Participating in the
Indigefi “Native Artist” podcast series as an Indigenous Producer

Story by Chandre Iqugan Szafran
Photo: Chandre Szafran with KONR studio backdrop, earrings by @the.ivory.plug

PodcastIt is with gratitude to The CIRI Foundation, the whole team at Koahnic, and supporting partners that this volume of the Indigefi “Native Artist Series” has come together. This project offers a critical platform for Indigenous storytellers to help shine a spotlight on talented Indigenous artists whose work both drives and exists in larger national conversations. The work of Indigenous artists goes beyond their own practices, beyond the positive contributions that they make to their small circles of communities; collectively, Indigenous artists help move larger cultures forward, and these individual stories help illuminate how critical they and their work are to these larger conversations. It’s my hope that this project helps communicate that.

The project has also offered the opportunity to me as Producer of this volume of the series, to combine my years of experience in arts and advocacy with my MFA education to help tell these stories. It can be challenging to share creative work—the pressure! The responsibility of telling others’ stories! The absence of gear or funds for basic needs!—so these opportunities to nurture growth are critical to supporting communities of artists as a whole.

Because I pursue work across Alaska and outside the state, I was able to build in the work on this project to travel for unrelated projects. I would not be able to accomplish this project without traveling to engage with artists in their communities, so the timing was complementary. As discussed in many of the conversations with artists, it’s also complementary timing to be a working artist in any field in the era post-2021—a year of ceiling-shattering representation and visibility for Indigenous people in arts, entertainment, and pop culture.

The series Creator/Executive Producer Alexis Sallee helped shape the bigger picture of this season and its promotion, and the KNBA staff and NV1 staff offered invaluable wisdom and technical support, as well as patience to coordinate all the many disparate moving pieces. As producer, writer, and host, the project offered me the opportunity to combine a lot of experience, education, storytelling lens, and instincts to make this volume of the series come to life. Gratitude also goes to KTOO, KONR, KNOM, and Kawerak, all of whom I have worked in storytelling in one way or another. It takes a village!

Quyanaqpak, big thanks for reading my story.