ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A new folklore podcast released this month journeys across the United States, introducing unique characters, most of whom live outside mainstream America.
Eight of the 31 stories featured in the “Out Here” podcast are New Mexican.
The podcast is the work of Brooklyn, N.Y. resident Kyana Gordon, who set out to tell the stories of “marginalized people across America.” A marginalized person, according to Gordon, is someone who is invisible or underrepresented in mainstream culture.
She spent June 2019 traveling and interviewing people from the Appalachian region of West Virginia, Detroit and New Mexico. She wanted to feature people from different geographical locations.
Gordon is a 41-year-old artist, writer and researcher who has lived in Brooklyn
for 20 years.
“I’m really interested in local communities and what people are doing in other places,” she said. “New York is so New York-centric but there are other things going on out there.”
She had established relationships with people in New Mexico through previous work and projects. Native American communities, she said, rarely make it to the national stage.
“We don’t hear about Native American communities unless it’s around their suffering,” Gordon said. “I wanted to show their rituals and ceremonies and let them tell their stories in their own words.”
Two of the first New Mexico episodes that will be released are that of Dulce resident Lorene Willis, a Jicarilla Apache elder, and Angelo McHorse, a business owner and farmer from Taos Pueblo.
Willis’ mother was from the Jicarilla Apache reservation, while her father was from the Choctaw Nation in Oklahoma, which is where she spent most of her childhood. Willis talks about her struggle to be accepted into the tribe because she’s only half Apache and her voyage to solidify her identity after going away to college and settling in Dulce. She also talks about what is was like visiting her grandparents in New Mexico as a child when they had no running water or electricity.
McHorse, meanwhile, was born and raised on Taos Pueblo and owns Bison Star Naturals. The company sells natural lotions and bath salts (bisonstarnaturals.com).
McHorse earned bachelor’s degrees in both agricultural science and business.
During his podcast, he talks about the importance of knowing how to grow one’s own food.
Gordon was influenced by Zora Neale Hurston, a Black author who collected folktales and wrote about racial struggles in the American South during the early and mid-1900s.
“It’s usually men you see throughout history doing things likes this (recording folktales),” she said. “You hardly ever see Black women doing cross-country trips. Hurston, who said ‘Folklore is the boiled juice of human living’ was my inspiration.”
Gordon said her ultimate goal is for the recorded stories to be archived in regional and national libraries, becoming part of the country’s overall narrative. So many people in America, she said, do not get to see themselves in history.
“I really wanted to get across this idea of wisdom and where it comes from,” Gordon said. “Knowledge comes from everywhere. Everyday people, we are all a part of history. That’s what I really wanted to drive home.”
Gordon said as a Black woman she understands the nuances of being in a marginalized group, which she thinks made it easier for her interview subjects to welcome her into their homes. She said it took her months of preparation before setting out to do the in-person interviews. Overall, she said she’s proud of the completed project.
“It was exhausting and super emotional,” she said. “I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. On the last day in Albuquerque, waiting for my plane to go home. I stood on a rooftop and cried and cried and cried.”
The podcast can be found on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Soundcloud.