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Applying an Indigenous Mindset: A Trip Through the Daily News with Connor Ryan (Episode #167)

There is an amazing brand of young “influencers” who are diving whole-heartedly into their unique opportunity to make the world a better place, and today we are fortunate to have one of them as our guest. Connor Ryan, who was named one of the “20 Most Influential People in the Outdoor Industry” by Outside Magazine, is a proud Lakota tribe member and passionate professional skier, and he is bringing his understanding of Native American perspectives to the problems we need to be solving in our world right now.



About Our Guest:

In this special episode of the podcast featuring Connor Ryan (Part 2, because our initial conversation was so fascinating and fun) listeners are in for a thought-provoking journey through the front page of The New York Times. But here’s the twist: Connor, drawing from his deep understanding of indigenous perspectives and wisdom, offers a unique interpretation of each conflict or challenge highlighted in the headlines.

Connor Ryan is more than a professional skier carving his way down snowy slopes; he’s a bridge between the exhilarating world of skiing and the profound depth of Indigenous wisdom. Hailing from the Lakota community, his prowess on skis is undeniable, but his ability to unearth stories that transcend the sport is what truly defines him. 

Described as a “translator” by photographer and writer Matthew Tufts, Connor has a unique talent for complex and nuanced narratives, identifying stories that ignite change. He effortlessly navigates between the intricate layers of issues, shedding light on Indigenous perspectives that often get overlooked.

Through his platform, Connor speaks not just to his Native American community, but to wider audiences, employing his ability to “code switch” and address critical issues, such as sustainability and inclusivity within the skiing industry. He challenges tokenism by deliberately collaborating with brands that empower underrepresented athletes, and by co-directing impactful films like Spirit of the Peaks with REI.

And all the while, he is a new voice embodying the possibility of combining heritage, athleticism, and advocacy, offering a beacon of hope and inspiration for Native youth seeking representation in the skiing world.

As a young influencer who does not aim to set trends that are fashionable, Connor Ryan is on course to help vastly expand our view of each other, and to help our world appreciate and use the wisdom of indigenous cultures to solve modern problems. As Connor and I explore the headlines together, he doesn’t just analyze the news from a conventional viewpoint; instead, he delves into the stories with an indigenous lens. Each piece of news becomes a doorway into understanding the world through the rich tapestry of Native American culture and wisdom.

With his Hunkpapa Lakota heritage as a compass, Connor unravels layers of meaning behind the headlines, unveiling insights often overlooked in mainstream discourse. Whether it’s environmental issues, social conflicts, or global challenges, Connor sheds light on these topics from a perspective rooted in ancient wisdom and interconnectedness with nature.

Story after story, we come away with a spring in our step, because with most of these intractable issues, there does turn out to be a perspective that might serve us all going forward. We may simply have needed a great “translator” of indigenous culture like Connor to come along. 

Connor Ryan’s insightful interpretations of the news provides a fresh and enlightening take on current events. Through this unique journey, we learn to see these issues not merely as isolated events, but as interconnected facets of a larger tapestry that encompasses human relations, the environment, and a kind of spirituality that is practical and available to us all. 

So join Connor Ryan on this captivating podcast episode, as he unravels the news from a perspective that invites us to see beyond the surface and connect with the deeper truths that lie within each story. It’s a transformative journey that challenges us to broaden our perspectives, fostering a deeper appreciation for indigenous wisdom in navigating the complexities of our world today.

References Mentioned:


  • 00:00 – Intro & Welcome
  • 03:07 – Connor’s Story
  • 04:26 – Skiing and Indigenous Culture
  • 09:47 – Addressing World Conflicts
  • 11:06 – Education in Indigenous Cultures
  • 13:55 – Insights on Education
  • 14:44 – Conflict Resolution
  • 21:07 – Indigenous Perspective on Commerce
  • 25:02 – Profits vs. Needs
  • 26:01 – Natural Disasters and Adaptation
  • 28:28 – Imagination and Solutions
  • 29:21 – Dispute Resolution in Cultures
  • 31:32 – Leadership in Indigenous Cultures
  • 34:01 – Break
  • 37:22 – Accountability in Leadership
  • 43:22 – Natural Disasters in Perspective
  • 42:01 – Adapting Earth to Us
  • 53:00 – Closing

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