The Kitchen Sisters Present… Stories from the b-side of history. Lost recordings, hidden worlds, people possessed by a sound, a vision, a mission. The episodes tell deeply layered stories, lush with interviews, field recordings and music. From powerhouse producers The Kitchen Sisters (Hidden Kitchens, The Hidden World of Girls, The Sonic Memorial Project, Lost & Found Sound, Fugitive Waves and coming soon… The Keepers). "The Kitchen Sisters have done some of best radio stories ever broadcast" —Ira Glass. The Kitchen Sisters Present is produced in collaboration with Nathan Dalton and Brandi Howell and mixed by Jim McKee. A proud member of Radiotopia, from PRX. Learn more at radiotopia.fm.
174 - The Braveheart Grandmothers and Yankton Sioux Coming of Age Ceremony
The Braveheart Women’s Society, a group of Yankton Sioux grandmothers and tribal elders, have re-established an almost forgotten coming of age ritual for young girls—the Isnati, a four day traditional ceremony on the banks of the Missouri River in South Dakota. This year the 24th Isnati ceremony took place.
Eleven summers ago The Kitchen Sisters were invited to document this ceremony for our Hidden World of Girls Series. It was a mind expanding experience.
The grandmothers, mothers, aunties and older sisters teach the girls to set up their own teepee, collect traditional herbs and flowers used for remedies. The girls are not allowed to touch food or feed themselves for four days; they are fed and given water by their mother or other women at the ceremony. They are being treated as babies for the last time in their lives. Throughout the days, the elders talk to the girls about modesty, courtship, pregnancy — and suicide, a serious problem on the reservations. One of the grandmothers, Theresa Heart, makes each girl a special dress. On the last day of the ceremony, the girls, one at a time, go into the teepee with their mother or auntie who bathes them, dresses them, does their hair, and paints their forehead. The elder tells the girl stories about what she was like as a baby, how beautiful she is and about the hopes and promises for her future.The girls prepare sacred ceremonial food and feed their community. She is given a new name and is presented to the the community as a woman.
We hear from grandmothers Faith Spotted Eagle, Theresa Heart, and Madonna Thunder Hawk who speak about Indian boarding schools, activism, and the importance of re-establishing traditions and rituals in their community.
Special thanks to the grandmothers, Brook Spotted Eagle and all the young women who have participated in the Isnati Coming of Age Ceremony. Thanks also to the WoLakota Project.
173 - Betty Reid Soskin—Celebrating the 100th Birthday of the Oldest Park Ranger in America
Betty Reid Soskin, the nation's oldest serving Park Ranger, works at the Rosie the Riveter Home Front World War II National Historical Park in Richmond, CA. Her tours and talks are hot ticket items. As a Black woman who worked in the segregated war effort, her perspective helps reveal a fuller, richer understanding of the World War II years on the home front as experienced by women and people of color.
In celebration of Betty Reid Soskin’s 100th year we’ve curated a kind of mix tape of Betty stories—stories gathered and preserved by producers and archivists over the years.
Betty was born September 22, 1921. Her Creole / Cajun family was from New Orleans and her great grandmother had been born into slavery in 1846. Betty grew up in Oakland in the 1920s and 30s, raised four children in the highly segregated Diablo Valley area where the family was subject to death threats. During WWII she works as a file clerk for Boilermakers Union A-36, a Jim Crow all black union auxiliary. She and her first husband, Mel Reid, owned one of the first Black record shops west of the Mississippi located in Berkeley. Betty is an activist, a singer, songwriter, poet musician. She was a Field Representative for California State Assembly women Dion Aroner and Lonnie Hancock.
Special thanks to: This is Love Podcast and creators Phoebe Judge and Lauren Spohrer; The San Francisco Public Library and Shawna Sherman of the African American Center of the San Francisco Main Library; and A Lifetime of Being Betty, a Little Village Foundation recording release produced by Mike Kappus. Thanks also to Betty’s son, musician and songwriter Bob Reid.
The Sonic Memorial—The 20th Anniversary of 9/11, Narrated by Paul Auster
An intimate and historic documentary commemorating the life and history of The World Trade Center and its surrounding neighborhood, through audio artifacts, rare recordings, voicemail messages and interviews. The Sonic Memorial Project was produced by The Kitchen Sisters in collaboration with NPR, independent radio producers, artists, writers, archivists, historians and public radio listeners throughout the country.
The Sonic Memorial Project began in October 2001 as part of the Lost & Found Sound series. We opened a phone line on NPR for listeners to call in with their stories and audio artifacts relating to the Sept. 11 attacks and the history of the World Trade Center. Hundreds of people called with testimonies and remembrances, music and small shards of sounds.
Combining interviews, voicemail messages, audio contributions from listeners, oral histories, home videos and recorded sounds of all kinds, the Sonic Memorial Project team created a series of stories for broadcast on NPR’s All Things Considered.
Now, these stories and contributions from listeners across the country can be heard at the Peabody Award-winning website SonicMemorial.org where you can explore the archive, contribute your own sounds and stories, and immerse yourself in the Sonic Browser, an interactive soundscape of stories and audio fragments.
What Fire Reveals: Stories from the CZU August Lightning Fires in The Santa Cruz Mountains
In the early morning hours of August 16, 2020, 12,000 lightning strikes exploded across northern California, igniting more than 585 wildfires. In the Santa Cruz Mountains scattered blazes grew into one massive burning organism — The CZU August Lightning Complex Fire — eating all in its path, scorching some 86,000 acres, destroying over 900 homes and Big Basin Redwoods, California’s first state park. A year later the fire is still burning deep in some of the roots and stumps of ancient trees.
In the aftermath, The Kitchen Sisters turned their microphones on the region, looking for what was lost and what has been found since lightning struck.
This story grew out of a collaboration with the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History. People who lost their homes in the blaze were invited to bring in artifacts found in the ashes to be photographed by award winning photographer Shmuel Thaler and interviewed by The Kitchen Sisters about the fire, their homes, the environment, their lives. These stories and photographs are part of an exhibition at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History.
Produced by The Kitchen Sisters (Nikki Silva & Davia Nelson) and mixed by Jim McKee in collaboration with Grace Rubin, Brandi Howell and Nathan Dalton.
Special thanks to photographer Shmuel Thaler, The Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History, The Amah Mutsun Land Trust and Stewardship Program, UCSC Professor Dana Frank, California State Parks, Mark Hylkema, Martin Rizzo Martinez, Jennifer Daly, and all of the many who shared their stories for the historical record.
With support from The California Humanities and The National Endowment for the Arts.
Route 66—The Mother Road
John Steinbeck called it the “Mother Road.” Songwriter Bobby Troup described it as the route to get your kicks on. And Mickey Mantle said, “If it hadn’t been for Highway 66 I never would have been a Yankee.” For the Dust Bowl refugees of the 1930s, for the thousands who migrated after World War II, and for the generations of tourists and vacationers, Route 66 was “the Way West.”
Route 66, the first continuously paved highway linking east and west was the most traveled and well known road in America for almost fifty years. From Chicago, it ran through the Ozarks of Missouri, across Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle, up the mesas of New Mexico and Arizona, and down into California to the Pacific Ocean. The first road of its kind, it came to represent America’s mobility and freedom—inspiring countless stories, songs, and even a TV show.
Songwriter Bobby Troup tells the story of his 1946 hit Get Your Kicks on Route 66; Gladys Cutberth, aka Mrs. 66 and members of the old “66 Association” talk about the early years of the road. Mickey Mantle explains “If it hadn’t been for US 66 I wouldn’t have been a Yankee.” Stirling Silliphant, creator of the TV series “Route 66” talks about the program and its place in American folklore of the 60s.
Studs Terkel reads from “The Grapes of Wrath” and comments on the great 1930s migration along Highway 66. We hear from Black and white musicians including Clarence Love, head of Clarence Love and his Orchestra, Woody Guthrie, and Eldin Shamblin, guitar player for Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys—who remember life on the road for musicians during the 1930s. We travel the history of the road from its beginnings as “The Main Street of America,” through the “Road of Flight” in the 1930s, to the “Ghost Road” of the 1980s, as the interstates bypass the businesses and road side attractions of another era.
Produced by The Kitchen Sisters and narrated by actor David Selby.
169—Cry Me A River
Today we’re thinking about Pack Creek Ranch in southern Utah and an incredible archive of material, gathered by river guide and environmental activist Ken Sleight, that was consumed by fire in early June, 2021.
The archive held over 50 years of photographs, writings, and correspondence chronicling Ken Sleight’s years of guiding on the Colorado River, his fight to stop the damming of Glen Canyon and the filling of Lake Powell in the 1950s and 60s, and his close friendship with Edward Abbey, author of The Monkey Wrench gang. Ken is the inspiration for Abbey’s character Seldom Seen Smith.
In honor of Ken Sleight and all who are out there working to save our planet we share again “Cry me a River” – the dramatic stories of three pioneering river activists—Ken Sleight, Katie Lee, and Mark Dubois and the damming of wild rivers in the west.
Katie Lee, born in 1917, a former Hollywood starlet, ran the Colorado River through Glen Canyon long before it was dammed, and in 1955 was the 175th person to run the Grand Canyon. An outspoken conservationist, singer and writer, she spent her life fighting for rivers.
Mark Dubois, co-founder of Friends of the River, Earth Day and International Rivers Network, began as a river guide who opened up rafting trips to disabled people in the 1970s. Dubois protested the damming and flooding of the Stanislaus River by hiding himself in the river canyon and chaining himself to a rock as the water rose in 1979.
We thank producer, river activist and “Keeper,” Martha Ham for her inspiration, her work on this story, and for chronicling Ken Sleight’s life and world on the river. This piece is part of Stories from the Heart of the Land, a series featuring intimate stories from around the world about the human connection to land and landscape, produced by Atlantic Public media and supported by The Nature Conservancy. Special thanks to Jay Allison and Emily Botein.
Flawed, but worth it for the unique content.
Really, really good for the most part. Travels some interesting territory. The sound quality varies, because of the source material, which is understandable. Where the podcast falters is when the hosts interject themselves into the stories or interviews. They bring a certain 'white American crunchy granola NPR cultural tourist' vibe to the proceedings that sometimes just takes you out of story. Beyond that, it's a very pleasant listen and they unearth some amazing forgotten audio gems. Oh,
Lush and delightful
Rich audio and storytelling, a treat for the ear and mind
A joyful celebration of what’s possible
Accessible stories that provide inspiring glimpses into other lives and other worlds—stories of humans genuinely contributing to the betterment of our world.