It’s not every day that a big-budget Hollywood book-to-movie adaptation sparks an IRL murder investigation. Today, V looks into why the author of the bestselling novel Where the Crawdads Sing is wanted for questioning in a deadly shooting. V also digs into some companies like Netflix and BMW, who are trying to stay relevant and gain customers by launching pointless subscription services, and runs through a list of political backstabs, including who’s the latest to be trashing Trump and his false stolen election claims. Finally, there’s a slew of recent Supreme Court cases that are directly affecting Native Americans. To help unpack these rulings, V brings on activists Julian Brave NoiseCat and Birdie to talk about tribal sovereignty, indigenous rights, and how they’re helping elevate the voices of their communities.
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Birdie, V Spehar, Julian Brave Noisecat
V Spehar 00:01
Hey friends, it’s Tuesday, July 19th, 2022, welcome to V INTERESTING, where we break down the viral and very interesting news you might have missed. I’m V SPEHAR, and on today’s show, we’re gonna catch up on some very interesting stories that just aren’t getting as much attention as they deserve. Like we also can’t ignore the story of a woman who wrote a book about killing people who may have like, actually killed people. We’ll talk about the Netflix, Meta, and BMW products that literally nobody asked for. And later, we’ll chat with two indigenous activists who will catch us up on what natives are doing to protect their ancestral lands, their children, and the public water supply. All that and more coming up on today’s V interesting. Let’s be smart together. And now for the headlines. Guys. What is up with the Made for TV murders this week? Like literally there are eight stories right now that I fully expect to be made into Lifetime Television originals. First up, if y’all thought Carole Baskin and the Big Cat Rescue were unhinged, and maybe she was capable of murder. Boy, do I got something better for you? Delia Owens, the renowned conservationist and author of The New York Times best seller Where The Crawdads Sing, which yes, Reese Witherspoon made into a movie that came out this past weekend and saw huge money at the box office. Anyway. Owens best-selling fictional book and now film follows a young Southern woman who’s eventually tied to a murder investigation. Well, the Atlantic reported last week that police are looking to question Miss Owens who is also a southern woman about a decade’s old murder that she might have been involved in. Now, we have got to travel back to the 90s to really understand what this whole murder mystery is about. So grab your favorite boy band cassette and your rollerblades because we are time traveling. On March 30th, 1996, the ABC show Turning Point featured a documentary about a pair of American conservationists stationed in Zambia titled deadly game, the Mark and Delia Owens story, hosted by my most favorite journalist Diane Sawyer and narrated by Meredith Vieira, ABC produced the documentary which followed the Owens work in Africa saving elephants from poaching. But it also included the filmed murder of an alleged poacher and […] edits on prime time. There is little in the video to suggest that the person killed was even a poacher. And indeed, the ABC script refers to the victim as a trespasser, though it’s also unclear where this trespassing may have taken place. Shortly after the documentary aired, Delia and Mark Owens left the country with their son Chris, after the broadcast sparked a Zambian police investigation of their conservation activities. Now, the Atlantic’s editor in chief Jeffrey Goldberg, who we are heavily citing in this retelling, thought it was interesting, and before the premiere of the Crawdads Sing, went to Africa himself to investigate the Owens work and he found that they were terrible people. No surprise. The Owens had actually militarized a 2400 square mile park they lived in and built out their own army of scouts. Christopher Owens, the son frequently beat the game scouts as a form of discipline, and they would even tie suspected poachers to trees and let them bake in the sun. The Atlantic reporter also interviewed the ABC cameraman who confirmed it was Mark and Delia’s son who allegedly killed the man in the documentary. There are also claims that Chris and Mark Owens tied the victim’s body up in a cargo net and dumped it in the river to I don’t know, hide the evidence question mark. Zambian authorities today remain interested in bringing charges for the 1996 televised killing but admit collecting evidence is a challenge because, quote, The bush is the perfect place to commit murder. The animals eat the evidence. So seemingly because of lack of extradition agreements between the US and Zambia and the fact that ABC won’t cooperate with the investigation. The Owens is are probably off the hook. But here’s where the real audacity comes in. In the book slash film where the crawdads sing Delia Owens admits that the main character is based on her own experiences and that the main character, spoiler, is written to have justifiably killed a man out of animalistic survival. The book and movie are hella problematic outside of the murder and the fact that it’s like kind of based on a snuff film maybe, there are many problems with the way the book portrays its Black characters and the Owens still describe Africa as the Dark Continent claiming it needs population control. I don’t know how this movie ever got made, but this is gross.
V Spehar 05:30
And it’s not just Delia, there have been an uptick in White woman rage murders taking center stage in the news cycle. Speaking of cycle, did you hear about the cyclist in Austin, Texas who killed her boyfriend secret girlfriend, the Caitlyn Armstrong thing? Not related to Lance but like Jesus Christ on a peloton what is with the Armstrong’s in crime? Here is a little recap of what happened. So Caitlyn Armstrong is the longtime living girlfriend of this guy, Colin Strickland. Colin cheated on Caitlyn with the seemingly very nice woman Wilson, who was unaware that she was being mistrust. Colin changed Mo’s name and his phone was just It doesn’t matter. He did a bunch of terrible stuff and he’s lying to everyone about everything. That’s all you need to know about Colin. Caitlin Armstrong finds out that he’s lying flies to Austin, Texas, buys two handguns and kills Mo in her apartment. Caitlin flees the scene. flies to Costa Rica using a fake passport, hides out for 43 days, cuts her hair, maybe gets a little plastic surgery, but then finally gets caught and why does she get caught? Because she opens a yoga studio there. She Girl boss a little too close to the sun. This is the definition of girl bossing too close to the sun. Can you believe that? All of that gets away with all of this, but then gets caught because you know, she just can’t like people like this. And I don’t know if it strikes anyone else is odd. But something I find just kind of like, extra upsetting about all of this is these are people who ride their bikes together. It feels weird. Like, I don’t know why. But I’m like, isn’t riding bikes supposed to be like a pleasant friendly community innocent based activity. God, I don’t even know where we exactly go with this next, this story just like blew my mind. So I suppose we should just go to another place no one asked for.
V Spehar 07:28
In an attempt to claw back some of their lost subscribers. Netflix has partnered with Microsoft to create a new tier of programming that will cost less if you’re willing to watch ads, and then folks are pissed. Netflix has steadily been losing their customers while raising their prices. And their answer to that was, you know what we haven’t been doing ads. You know what people want? Okay. That must be why people are leaving Netflix, you’re absolutely correct, because we don’t have enough commercial breaks. I don’t think so. But here’s the real scoop. analysts are saying they don’t actually think that the ad tear is going to come out. But rather speculate that the Netflix Microsoft partnership is just the first step towards Netflix being acquired by Microsoft. So we’ll be watching without ads until then, and the meanwhile, there are some more just absolutely absurd subscriptions that are out right now that are very much real. Since 2020, BMW is operating system has allowed for microtransactions on features like automatic high beams and adaptive cruise control. And now they’re looking to include a subscription for heated steering wheels it only runs at 12 bucks a month. There’s also the option to record footage from your car’s camera for an extra $235 and the worst one, the iconic sound sports package, which lets you pick the sound of your car horn for a one-time fee of $117. In digital creator land subscription seem to be having a moment as well. Snapchat just announced snap plus, Meta which controls Facebook and Instagram has a subscriber only option that content creators can monetize off of and even TikTok has been pushing me to make subscriber only content or host like subscriber only lives that followers would have to pay to watch. Thanks. I hate it. But most egregious of all is American Airlines who announced that they are going to make cuts to their loyalty programs which like, again, what is going on American Airlines? Are you trying to race to the bottom? There wasn’t that much to be loyal for in the first place.
V Spehar 09:44
Speaking of loyalty and you know the things we commit to that we might not want to keep anymore. Here are some of the top political backstabs that happened this week. A group of conservatives issued a 72 page report on Thursday categorically rebutting each of the claims made in court by former President Donald Trump and his supporters over the 2020 election results. The report titled lost not stolen. The conservative case that Trump lost and Biden won the 2020 presidential election looked at more than 60 court cases Trump and his supporters filed and lost in six key battleground states. It reached the unequivocal conclusion that the former Republican president claims were unsupportable. They go on to say, quote, It is wrong and bad for our country for people to propagate baseless claims that President Biden’s election was not legitimate. Jumping on the bandwagon to trash the former president, Elon Musk who tweeted out it’s time for someone else to take the lead of the Republican Party. In response, Trump jumped on truth social to claim Elon would have begged on his hands and knees for the billions of dollars in subsidies Trump gave him and then went on to claim he was personally responsible for Elon’s success since 2016. I mean, billions of dollars in government subsidies surely helped Elon you know, Trump’s kind of got your ass there. Gotta give it to him. But then, feeling left out of who’s the most gross guy on the planet club, Elon’s dad Errol, revealed last week that he had a second you heard me right, a second child with his own stepdaughter Jana, who he met when she was just four years old. And yes, he did help raise her. This is gross. But of all the drama and backstabs this week, the one that hurt me the most as a New Yorker and as a baseball fan, was seeing Alex Rodriguez called Derek Jeter no true friend. My childhood, it’s crushed. Alex Rodriguez calls Jeter quote, no true friend in the new ESPN documentary The captain, which details Jeter’s days as a New York Yankee. Throughout the documentary, it’s made clear loyalty and discretion are two traits Jeter values intensely, especially loyalty. The piece does kind of over focus on Rodriguez and Jeter’s up and down friendship. But as baseball America writer Alan Schwartz says in the film, quote, Derek Jeter wanted to be a Yankee. Alex Rodriguez wanted to be a star. Is that a diss? Aren’t they both what? They’re both they are both Yankees and stars what a take. Speaking of superstars, did you know there are more Native American lawmakers currently serving in Congress than ever before. That said, indigenous representation and by extension, indigenous rights have yet to receive their full due in this country. But thankfully there are activists like my next two guests who are working tirelessly to educate the general population on what is impacting this vibrant community, will speak to Julian Brave NoiseCat and TikToker Birder, right after this.
V Spehar 13:09
Welcome back friends. Y’all have been tagging me online and asking for a breakdown of some recent court decisions affecting Native Americans. And now, I’m not an expert on Native Affairs. So I’ve invited two indigenous activists to help us understand how the Supreme Court is affecting Native Americans. Just a little scene setting because this doesn’t get a ton of coverage. So here’s just a little bit of background, you’ll need to understand this conversation. First thing in 2020, McGirt V. Oklahoma was a Supreme Court case that determined 48% of Oklahoma was in fact tribal land, and thereby the state did not have the right to police that 48%. Well, Oklahoma didn’t like that. So they challenged it. And another case called Oklahoma V. Castro Huerta, in this case, it was decided that Yeah, okay. The state cannot step in to police native, versus native crime, but they can police non-natives, even if they live on a reservation. Now, the issue with all of this is that most recent decision diminishes tribal sovereignty. Tribal sovereignty is the notion that Native people have the ultimate authority moreso than state government agencies in deciding what happens both to their people and to their lands, including during criminal proceedings. Now on top of that, there is another potential Supreme Court case tied to the Indian Child Welfare Act or ICWA. It is eerily reminding folks of a time when native children were taken from their homes and placed into so called residential schools to essentially whitewash or Americanized them here to help me unpack all three of these cases is indigenous activist and TikToker Birdie and journalist and filmmaker Julian Brave Noisecat. Thank you all so much for being with me today.
Thank you. I’m glad to be here.
Julian Brave Noisecat
Thanks for having us.
Both of your work centers on elevating the voices of indigenous communities, can you start off by telling me just what that means to you.
So in my case, it’s seeking out the voices who are on the frontlines of these fights, and really bringing their experiences and their words into the forefront, making it as easily accessible to as many people as possible, because something that I have really come to understand about, especially the Tick Tock communities, those who can help, absolutely will, and they just need to know about it. And that’s the biggest hurdle is getting that information out there.
Julian Brave Noisecat
As a writer and a filmmaker, I would say that the core of what I do is really just listening and living, I have the immense privilege of being able to ask questions and spend time with people. And I think for most folks, you know, you don’t usually have the chance to go sit with that elder or that leader in your community, or even just that cool artist, and ask them about what they do and watch them as they do what they do. And, you know, in my, you know, better than six years now of writing and now working on documentaries, I get to see how a lot of indigenous peoples live. And you know, I choose to do that. Because it’s core to my art, but also because I think that, you know, a native way of life is a good way of life. And that’s what I try to also convey.
V Spehar 16:37
Yeah, a lot of times the reasons why people won’t cover something is because they feel just inadequate on the topic, right? Like, it is so difficult. And it is such an unspoken of history, the way that natives were treated in this country. We hear about residential schools; can you just give us like a definition of what was the residential school for folks who might not know?
So a residential school. There were typically known as Indian boarding schools or Indian industrial schools, they were commissioned by the federal government to quote unquote, kill the Indian save the man. They were in all practicality, work camps, and horrific abuse occurred at these work camps that masqueraded the schools. So the federal government not only commissioned for these, but they usually had church organizations, be the ones to run these schools, oftentimes Catholic or other Christian denominations. And at the schools, they stole the children, punished them for speaking their language or practicing their culture. For the boys, they cut their hair, and they created labor, a labor force, essentially. And then those that did graduate. Those who lived to see graduation were usually sent to live on farms, work as labor, some maybe were sent home. But most often they never made it home.
And when we say that they were you know, the government was working in tandem with Christian churches, often the Catholic Church that is predominantly because the church was running the foster care and adoption circuit, which had become very sort of like fashionable at a particular time. But prior to that, it was unheard of, to adopt children. And so now we needed a pipeline of kids. And if that sounds familiar to you, it’s because again, we are reliving a lot of the stuff that should have already been lived, unfortunately survived. And then, you know, learned from which brings me to the first question here, of one of the things that we’re gonna talk about a bunch today specifically, the issues in a recent court case affecting the Native American community. We’re going to talk about the Indian Child Welfare Act and how it has helped maintain a child’s connection to their family, to their culture and their community, which was a reaction to indigenous children being stolen, being essentially like you said, the Indian beat out of them and then placed with white families, as you know, either if they could be white passing it off as their own kids or if they weren’t as labor. And now a White evangelical Christian couple is asking the Supreme Court to protect their right to adopt Cherokee Navajo siblings. Can you talk about just the absolute danger of this case being taken by the Supreme Court? Maybe Julian?
Julian Brave Noisecat 18:23
there is at least nominally legislation that’s supposed to prevent that sort of thing from happening in the United States. It’s called the Indian Child Welfare Act. And essentially it creates a set of have rules around which states are supposed to deal with Native kids in foster care. There’s this assumption that, you know, there isn’t land being taken any more people, you know, native people are no longer dying, children aren’t being removed from families anymore. And if you if you actually look under the hood of the car, so to speak, you know, that’s not really the case. There’s actually more children in the foster care native children in the foster care system today than there than there ever were Native kids in boarding or residential schools. And that’s true in both United States and Canada. So, you know, in point of fact, the same, effectively the same thing from a 30,000 foot view of taking Native kids out of their families and communities and putting them in many cases into non-native communities and families situations is still occurring. But as you were saying, with the question, you know, this has been challenged for a number of years by, in particular, the religious right, and, you know, feels like they have a very favorable Supreme Court where they can win a number of, you know, landmark victories that they’ve been fighting for a long time. And so, you know, ICWA, as it’s commonly called, by, you know, sort of people in the community is now under threat, unfortunately.
They’re claiming they’re essentially saying, look, we’re White, evangelical couple, and we want to adopt only, and specifically this particular indigenous group of siblings. And if you don’t allow us to do that you’re doing it based on our race. And we have absolutely no respect for the compromise that was made with indigenous folks for the years of abuse that they endured, the years of abuse that they endured from their children being taken from them, all of these things. It well was set up to be like, a very small, I’m sorry, let’s try to set some guardrails so that this doesn’t happen again. And now these, you know what, half a decade later we’re like, no, actually, it’s reverse racism. And if you don’t allow a White couple to adopt an indigenous child, then you’re being racist against us. Is there anything you’re hearing Birdie in the community about what loss of ICWA could mean for indigenous sovereignty in the family unit?
Well, and that’s the big thing here. Ultimately, what the goal is here is to attack tribal sovereignty, because on the surface of this, it, it sounds ridiculous, because they are claiming reverse racism. But once you look, kind of into who’s kind of going on behind it here, you look at the lawyers who are representing the couple, which is Gibson, Dunn. They’re doing this pro bono and Gibson Dunn has a history of working with Big Oil clients and taking on tribal cases to challenge them and tribal casino cases to further their big oil clients’ interests. The Gibson Dunn lawyers, you can find them on the other two cases, as well of McGirt and Castro. They’re also there.
We are going to talk about McGirt V. Oklahoma, and Oklahoma V. Castro, because Oklahoma is really the epicenter of where a lot of this stuff is going down. And for good reason.
Julian Brave Noisecat
Well, originally, Oklahoma was established as Indian territory. So Oklahoma was a kind of, I think it would be fair to say barren little spot in the center of the continent where numerous tribes signed treaties that sort of guaranteed them reservation lands in different parts of the state. So in according to United States law, a huge portion of Oklahoma should still be considered Indian land, it should, it is still, technically reservation land. And so over the last number of years, there have been sort of legal challenges to this. But essentially, in McGirt V, Oklahoma, a native man in Oklahoma had been tried and convicted in state court of honestly fairly heinous crime. But then, his lawyers, he and his lawyers challenged that conviction on the grounds not that he hadn’t done something awful, but that he because he was native and he had committed the crime on what should still be considered Indian reservation land. He should be tried instead in federal court rather than state court because it would be the tribe and then the Feds that would have jurisdiction on reservation land, and the Supreme Court ultimately agreed with the tribes and said actually, yes, this is still Indian land, this is still reservation land, and therefore, the criminal jurisdiction would go to tribes and the federal government. So it created this situation where the criminal justice system and the question of whose jurisdiction you are in in Oklahoma was being rejiggered which set the stage essentially for this ruling in Castro V. Oklahoma.
Not to be outdone, Oklahoma started looking for ways that they didn’t lose the opportunity to police people and they didn’t lose jurisdiction. Right. And that is a little bit about where they’re sort of going now with Oklahoma V. Castro Puerta, which was like, Okay, you got us on when natives commit crimes on native lands. But what about if a non-native commits a crime on native land against a native person, then what happens? And this is what Oklahoma V. Castro is about? Right. And I know, Bertie, you did a lot of talking about this. Can you tell us a little bit about what happened there?
Essentially, a non-native man committed a crime on what is now considered tribal land. And with Oklahoma versus Castro, they ruled that state court could try him. So essentially, crimes committed by non-native people on tribal land can be seen by state court.
How does something like this, the state being able to intervene in reservation business affects tribal sovereignty? Because it’s not just I mean, it’s easy to say, well, but it was a crime. But that’s not it, though.
When people don’t have the opportunity to hold their own accountable, are we really sovereign is what’s happening here is we’re not given the opportunity to follow through with justice, the way we see fit, the way we as indigenous people see fit, or the individual tribes see fit. And when it’s their land, that is something that they are entitled to do as a sovereign nation. And with these attacks on sovereignty coming from different directions, it all adds up to the bigger picture of sovereign people not being allowed to make sovereign choices. This is my own personal opinion. But I feel as if the original ruling of Oklahoma versus McGirt really affected the ego of the governor in Oklahoma. And like you said, sought out cases where he could usurp that. And that’s what Castro ended up being where he found a way to not cheat, but just slide in sideways. And it was just an excuse to make a jab. And we’re seeing that a lot in various cases. I want to say even with ICWA, it’s the case is rarely about what it is at face value.
V Spehar 28:27
Birdie, anything that you hope folks will do to help protect native efforts to make this world a better place in the coming year, maybe as a result, relates to voting even?
Yes, so that is definitely something I am mobilizing my platform to do right now is trying to get as many people educated on all levels of voting for their government. It’s not just about the presidential elections anymore. It’s about the midterms, it’s about the primaries, it’s about making sure every level of government has representation that you would be proud of. And voting is just the first half of it, you have to make sure that those people follow through on the things that you elected them for. So as always, my link page has lots of voting resources getting registered. Getting up to date on who your reps are, and who’s on the next ballot, what measures are being proposed and becoming essentially weaponizing your vote in order to really make sure that you and your like-minded peers are represented in a government level.
We will link to y’all contact information so that people can follow you and they can find I’ve been to your link tree it is just an encyclopedia of resources keeps going. It does you just keep adding to it. But you know, it’s good because I’m a rabbit hole person. So I like click on one and then I’m clicking on everything else. Thank you guys. So much for being with me today and just talking through some of these things that have been really confusing to folks and that we need to put a ton of action behind fighting so that they don’t continue to deteriorate conditions and sovereignty for native folks.
Julian Brave Noisecat
Thanks for having us.
That was indigenous activist Julian brave noise, cat and birdie. Please find them online and follow them they are incredible educators. Up next we’re going to hear from you with some much needed good news, stick around. Every week I asked you to call in and leave us a voicemail sharing some good news. And this week, you guys did not disappoint. Take a listen.
Hey, V INTERESTING. I love the show. And I really loved your farmers market segments, more food stuff. Fantastic. One thing that’s making me happy right now that I wanted to share is that after getting laid off and weeks of job hunting, I’m talking to a company that wants to give me some freelance work from home. So I don’t even have to move across the country. And I can be a little less worried about money. And it’s work that could be very fun and exciting to do.
Good news, I finally came out to my family and friends as bi, and most of them said it was about time. So that kind of made me happy and also upset that everyone knew before I did.
Hi, V, my good news is that I’m getting top surgery in one week, and sticking it to all of the trans legislators that are trying to bring you down. I’m super pumped. And yeah, thanks for having some good news.
Speaker 7 32:04
Hey, this message is for the good news only segment. I live in Michigan and this week we turned in a petition that is going to most likely make it so women’s rights are on the ballot this fall so that we can codify it into our state constitution. And as a woman, young woman living in this state, it is a huge relief to know that there might be something coming that can help us.
My name […] and for the good news. Gonna move from part time to full time and my six month old just started rolling over. Nothing, nothing huge, just small habits.
This is for banana shirt. Good news only. My daughter finally did the backfloat at swimming lessons. Were really proud of her.
That just warms my heart. It just gives me what I need to get through the week hearing from you guys. Be sure to tune in this Friday’s episode when we chat about monkey pox. I already can hear you saying maybe not. Maybe not. No. You have to listen to this episode. It is very important to understand. Please also leave me a voicemail with your good news at 612-293-8550. Subscribe to Lemonada premium on Apple podcasts. Follow me at @underthedesknews and please take care of yourself. I’ll see you guys on Friday.
V INTERESTING is a Lemonada Media Original. Our producers are Rachel Neel, Xorje Olivares, Martín Macías, Jr. And Dani Matias. Executive Producers are Stephanie Wittels Wachs and Jessica Cordova Kramer. Mixing and Scoring is by Brian Castillo, Johnny Evans and Ivan Kuraev. music is by Seth Applebaum. Please help others find the show by rating and reviewing wherever you listen and follow us across all social platforms at @VitusSpehar and @UnderTheDeskNews, also, @LemonadaMedia. If you want more be interesting, subscribe to Lemonada premium only on Apple podcasts.