Ryan Red Corn on Building and Creating Things
“There is a trap [in decolonization] that hinders a lot of potential growth. And that is centered in how we think about things. If you are only trained [to deconstruct] then you are stuck in a gear of deconstruction, which is important and useful. But if the goal is to increase capacity in Indian Country, then you are asking for builders, not destroyers, and that is a completely different type of thinking.” Ryan Red Corn (Osage) created the design firm Buffalo Nickel Creative and is also a member of the 1491s. He joined NextGen Native for a wide-ranging conversation. Although we touched on comedy and had some light hearted moments, our conversation covered much more beyond comedy. We talked about the role his work and the work of others in graphic design and branding can play a role in Indian Country telling its stories better. We discussed how being creative and artistic is closely related to being an entrepreneur. We talked about the media he uses to tell stories and how each is suited to have a certain impact. I dug into Ryan’s intentionality and how he uses it to manage his time and drive his art. One of the many things I enjoy about NextGen Native is diving into ideas and issues that take a deeper look into issues and events in Indian Country and my conversation with Ryan was very much in this vein. For example, Ryan discussed the impact and power of branding touched on using graphic design and branding in efforts to address the use of mascots. Or how when we engage in efforts to make change, we shouldn’t focus on telling “our story” but on “a story” that will resonate not only with those trying to tell it, but those who are listening. Or how our traditional economies were just that, economies. And how that history informs the work people do today. I hope this conversation sparks additional conversation on social media, at home, and in tribal council meetings. Let me know what you think or add to the conversation on social media!