Guest: Tyra Wanatee-Flores, BSW
Host: Shimon Cohen, LCSW
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In this episode, I talk with Tyra Wanatee-Flores, who is a descendant of the Sac and Fox Nation of the Mississippi in Iowa and identifies as Two-Spirited. Tyra is an advanced standing MSW student at Washington University in St. Louis, a photographer and activist of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples Movement, an advocate for Indigenous women who have experienced violence, and a speaker about mental health in Indigenous Country. She talks about the work she is doing with the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation in Mayetta, Kansas, to address youth suicide and substance abuse. We discuss how much of social work education and mental health interventions are Eurocentric, which makes it a challenge to find ways that will work for Indigenous communities, but how Tyra is addressing this in her work, using networking and approaches that honor community, tradition, and culture. Tyra talks about being part of the Buder Scholars program, where she and others have access to an Indigenous curriculum and how it has helped her to learn decolonizing approaches to this work. She emphasizes the importance of community in healing and getting back to pre-colonial ways. Tyra also talks about her work with Meskwaki RISE, a program supporting and empowering Indigenous survivors of domestic violence or sexual assault. She discusses Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW), specifically the disappearance of Rita Papakee, who is from her community, and what we can all do to end this violence. Tyra also shares why she does this work. I hope this conversation inspires you to action.