Allison Herrera

Allison Herrera was the co-creator of Invisible Nations, a project exploring modern Native culture in Oklahoma, from November 2015 to July 2016.

Herrera previously served as the editor of the award-winning online publication the Twin Cities Daily Planet. Since earning a B.A. from the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, she has worked as a radio and video producer for Twin Cities Public Television, AmpersKFAI, KSMQ, and several others.

She also has worked with KBFT radio on the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa reservation in northern Minnesota to produce a series of shows about art, culture, history and the environment.

Allison is working on a documentary about Ojibwe painter Jim Denomie and lives in Minneapolis with her daughter, Anna.

Ways to Connect

Allison Herrera

Freedmen is another term for descendants of former slaves. And in the Five Civilized Tribes in Oklahoma, the question of their status within the tribes has been debated for decades. In the Cherokee Nation, there are two open court cases that will determine the freedmen’s tribal citizenship. And a similar debate is happening in the Seminole nation.

In this third and final story in our series about the Freedmen, Invisible Nations’ Allison Herrera explains why the Seminole freedmen feel especially angry about the actions of their tribal council members.

Allison Herrera

There’s an ongoing issue in the Cherokee Nation-it involves a group of people known as the Freedmen, ­ descendants of former slaves ­ who would like to be part of the tribe. There are nearly 16 years of conflict between the nation and these would ­be citizens, plus an open legal case. Allison Herrera profiles two of these Freedmen.


Listen to the story here:


Allison Herrera

It’s arguably one of the more controversial issues in Indian Country-the case of the Freedmen-descendants of former slaves looking to gain citizenship into one of the major tribes in Oklahoma. Cherokee Freedmen have waited more than two years on a decision from a federal judge telling them whether they can be citizens of the tribe. Invisible Nations Allison Herrera brings us this first story in a three-part series about the issue.

Many native languages are considered endangered, ­with few first speakers left to pass down the language to a new generation. But, a new generation of young people fueled by technology​ is making an impact. 

The famed song by Chubby Checker encouraging dancers all over to get down and do “The Twist” plays in the background as dancers from the Cherokee Pride school in NE Oklahoma move and groove around. Today, the song isn't being sung by the 1950's icon,  it’s being sung by students in their native language of Cherokee.

Herman "Mogri" Lookout is the master language teacher for the Osage Nation in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

He's studied the language for forty years and helped revitalize the written portion of it by creating an orthography. Language teachers and experts from all over Native America say that an orthography is a way to reclaim your sovereignty.

Lookout also worked with developers to create Osage for Unicode. Because of that, Osages all over the world can write and text in the language.

Rachel Hubbard

According to the 2010 US Census data, more than five million people claimed Native American ancestry. That’s up almost 40% from the last census. It's a big shift from the years people shunned Native identity.  If you can prove you're part of a tribe and the tribe accepts you, it can potentially mean health benefits or help with college tuition.  But, all these new Native people are leading to questions about what it means to be Native within a tribe. 

I had a great opportunity to talk about Invisible Nations and tomorrow's bike tour around Tulsa this morning on KTUL.

Watch below:

Tracing Tulsa's Creek Roots

Jun 22, 2016
Allison Herrera

This story was written by Russell Cobb and the audio portion was produced by Allison Herrera.

"For a mile up and down the river could be heard the rhythmic drum beat of drum and song, and dancing feet. And in the memory of men now living this, and not the roar of traffic or the hum of industry, was the voice of Tulsa." - Angie Debo

Teresa Trumbly Lamsam is the newest addition to the Osage News editorial board. She's also the executive editor of the Native Health News Alliance. The Osage News is one of a handful of newspapers and media outlets existing in Indian Country with a free press act in place. Osage News editor Shannon Shaw Duty talked to her about the importance of a free press and what's being done to foster and environment where reporters and editors are unembedded with the tribal government.