LINDA BLACK ELK on What Endures After Pandemic – For The Wild

In the past three months, so much has unfolded. We are witnessing the rapid expansion of a pandemic, the decline of the global economy, the incredible power of community, and the shameful behavior that is a symptom of a capital-driven society. We grieve the loss of life, and even the smaller losses, like the once guilt-free luxury of gathering amongst loved ones. And, of course, we are bearing witness to the fruits of an unjust and cruel system ripen amidst a global emergency. Through it all, many of us continue to try and make meaning, to search for purpose and guidance amidst a liminal time. On this week’s episode, we speak to Linda Black Elk on traditional medicine, community wellness and systemic transformation amidst pandemic.

Linda Black Elk (Catawba) is an ethnobotanist specializing in traditional foods and medicines of the Great Plains. She is currently the Director of Food Sovereignty at United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck, ND, and is the mother to three Lakota sons.

Our conversation begins with hands-on measures we can take to boost our wellbeing and what honorable harvest looks like during times of panic. How can we deepen our actions so that they are not just a response to fear, but are rooted in the promise of collective wellbeing? In addition to these questions of right now, Ayana and Linda discuss what will be left in the wake of COVID-19, how will we tend to the wounds of disposability? What systems will endure? What must we dismantle and what will we grow?

“Maybe if we had shown greater respect for the micro, we wouldn’t be dealing with a pandemic virus right now…”


Linda Black Elk

We offer this conversation as an acknowledgement of the topic that is on all of our minds, but it’s also a moment to pause, a call to organize for the betterment of your community. Liminality is not always comfortable, especially when we find ourselves in the throes of anticipatory grief, but at our core, we know that the remedy for this paralysis is to find agency where we can. To cultivate collective wellness, to strengthen ourselves and to the plant seeds for tomorrow.

♫ Music by Matti Palonen & Chris Pureka


“I always encourage my students to go out and get to know the plant nations again. Let them be your teachers. If you have questions, reach out to the knowledge holders in your communities.” –Linda Black Elk

As mentioned in the episode, if you’d like to support Linda’s survival meal kits for elders, you can PayPal her directly at or Venmo @lindablackelk.

To follow Linda’s work, visit her Facebook.

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