Since 2014, Sovereign Bodies has come a long way. We’ve grown and evolved in such an organic way that the original intention is both recognizable and foreign.

Sovereign Bodies originated as a companion project to the Young Lakota documentary. Initially, the project was to consist of two separate elements – videos and blogs – that would compliment each other and the goals of the documentary; which is to say that these two components would reflect voices and ignite conversations. While we have shifted toward mainly written content, I would like to believe that we do still very much reflect the many voices of Indian country, as well as igniting important conversations both within and outside of our home communities.

As you may have noticed, Sovereign Bodies is in the midst of a regeneration of sorts. We took a hiatus during the summer of 2015 and, during the fall and winter, focused on planning this next stage. What could we do to make Sovereign Bodies grow, to encompass more?

I’m a trained and actively working journalist, and transparency is one of the many traits my education and training have instilled within me. So, in the name of transparency and the Fourth Estate, I’d like to share with you what we’ve been working on.

  1. Growing our representation. If you follow Sovereign Bodies on social media, you’ve probably seen our recent open calls for new writers and contributors. Over the past few years we’ve been operating with a very limited number of writers, representing only a handful of nations and viewpoints. During conversations regarding what we could improve upon, my number one priority was to expand the variety of contributors. Having more writers means more content, sure, but it also means more variety of content, which inherently improves upon the quality of our content. Representing as many Indigenous voices as possible is of upmost importance.

  2. Making content more accessible. As I previously mentioned, our content focus has shifted largely to written content. This wasn’t intentional, and certainly isn’t prohibitive – it’s simply what happened. Since our weekly columns have become the main component of the site, we needed to refocus the site design itself to highlight this. Additionally, we desperately needed a mobile-friendly platform. We rolled out a simplified redesign on April 12, making it significantly easier to discover and access content.

  3. Increasing conversation. This point actually encompasses a couple different initiatives. First and foremost, increasing our social media presence. Sovereign Bodies does not exist to generate content and garner simple clicks. We seek to ignite actual dialogue both within Indigenous communities and within the mainstream conversation, and in 2016 the best way to approach this is via social media. We’re actively working on stepping up our social game, so to speak, and encourage readers to give us feedback and actively participate. Nothing we publish here is untouchable – if there is a counterpoint, a deeper layer or even a down-and-out disagreement, we want to hear it. Additionally, creating more conversation also involves covering a larger variety of topics and issues. With more writers, we can cover more aspects of Indigenous health – after all, everything is connected, and Indigenous skateboarding and ballet initiatives are just as important as Indigenous access to quality, culturally appropriate healthcare and education.

That said, I hope that our goals are readily visible in what we’re doing. There’s still plenty to come, but we can only do it – and will only do it – with your help. Follow and like us on social media, sure, but don’t stop there – send us emails, comment on and respond to posts, make sure that we hear your voices. Submit column ideas, write for us, share your stories with us. Sovereign Bodies can only live up to its immense potential if you participate, because Sovereign Bodies is inherently about you.

By Ashley Richards & Ryan Red Corn
By Ashley Richards & Ryan Red Corn