'I want to celebrate elders': Kaniehtiio Horn on her podcast, Coffee with my Ma
Kahn-Tineta Horn has always told great stories about her life as a model in the 1960s, and as a fierce advocate for Mohawk rights. Now her daughter, actress Kaniehtiio Horn, wants the world to hear them on her podcast, Coffee with my Ma.
The stories Kahn-Tineta Horn tells in the podcast are full of adventure, bravery, and lots of laughter.
As she recounts saving a Cree baby from being taken during the Sixties Scoop, to getting arrested for punching a journalist from the Toronto Telegram who wrote an unflattering article about her — it's clear Horn has lived a more colourful life than the average person.
"My mom would just sit there and she's full of all these stories, and I'd be like, 'Oh my god that would be such a good movie, that would be such a good TV show, that would be such a good short film,'" said Kaniehtiio Horn.
But Kaniehtiio Horn went against her instincts, and instead of creating a film, she started recording the conversations she had with her mom over coffee.
The first time she pulled out her microphone was when her mom told her a story about Mohawk activist Richard Oakes, who was part of the occupation of Alcatraz in 1969.
"She just started telling me this story of him, and I was like, 'Can I record it?' And she was like, 'Yeah alright, why?'" said Horn.
"I was like, 'I don't know I might do something with it,' so I was just following her around recording."
"The reputation my mom has, and the way people have portrayed her in the media … has been sort of demonizing. I feel like this project is a way for her to tell her side [of the story], and to humanize her," said Horn.
"Me and my sisters have been asking her forever to write her autobiography, because we grew up with these stories, and we're like, you have to write this down. Like you went to Robert Kennedy's funeral … you knew Marlon Brando ... [that] is insane."
Found her voice through podcasting
Not only has the podcast served as the perfect venue to share her mom's stories, Horn said she's found a passion and her voice through podcasting.
"I was really happy with the way my career has been going as an actor, but there were still those times between auditions and between jobs that I was just empty," said Horn.
"I feel like [the podcast] has really fulfilled me … it's something that I love to do."
Horn said she's "obsessed" with podcasts, and she isn't surprised by the number of Indigenous people creating them.
"[Indigenous people] love a good story. We're storytellers, we like to share stories," said Horn. "It's how [Indigenous people] shared knowledge … pass knowledge down, how we learn, how we grow."
Horn hopes her podcast inspires other Indigenous creators to start their own podcasts.
"I want to encourage people to take out their iPhone … and record the next time your aunty, uncle, grandpa, grandma, sister, cousin, whoever is telling one of those stories," said Horn. "I want to celebrate elders basically, I think they're awesome."