Honoring Native American Heritage Month

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

First, we at Paizo acknowledge that our beautiful coastal rainforest is the traditional, unceded land of the Coast Salish people, specifically the first people of Seattle, the Duwamish People. Today and every day we honor the Duwamish Tribe—past and present—and the land itself.

November is Native American Heritage month. This is a time to celebrate the culture, history, and heritage of indigenous peoples across the Americas. We asked some of our Native American contributors and staff to lend their voices to this celebration.

Two separate illustrations of the pathfinder and starfinder iconics with 'community blog' in white text overlayed over the top

Dolok Darkfur, from Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-12: Breath of the Dragonskull by Michael Sayre
Dolok Darkfur a large, blue eyed, dark furred bear with red and orange feathers growing from its back and arms

Michael Sayre, Paizo Designer (he/him)

Growing up, my grandpa’s Tlingit stories showed me how storytelling works as a vehicle for culture and values (and how it’s a great way to pass the time waiting for the fish to bite!) Those stories of kushtaka and little men in the woods excited me, and I remember hanging on my grandpa’s every word, realizing how his cadences and storytelling devices had been passed to my uncles, who would use the same rhythm even for different stories, which were all so hypnotic and mesmerizing. I remember the elders at the rec center and other events who would tell stories I’d never heard before but which were still so familiar.

Stories of Raven helped me contextualize the cleverness and skill of Tlingit elders and leaders in a modern environment, and I’d only continue to discover the value and power of some of those stories as I grew older. Stories about Bear (both ally and obstacle) helped me realize how strong people can be when I thought that people, especially me, were just weak and flawed. All of those stories and experiences helped make me realize that I wanted to tell stories of my own. Gunalchèesh ax eet yeelatûowu.

Taking the first steps to telling those stories never would have happened without the support of Goldbelt, our tribal corporation, that assisted me on numerous occasions with education and health care related issues that would have forced different life choices if I’d had to navigate them without a corporation representing a rich tapestry of communities supporting me. What I am, all the Tlingit & Haida people of southeast Alaska helped me be.

Jessica Catalan, Paizo Developer (she/her)

Hi everyone! My name is Jessica Catalan (she/her), and I’m a Canadian, Métis freelancer author and Starfinder Line Developer for the Starfinder Society. This year, Canada held its first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, an annual commemoration honoring the children who died while attending residential schools and the survivors, families, and communities still affected by the legacy of the residential school system. While this is a step forward for us, reconciliation without action is just words and there is much to be done. I’ll spare you the newscast.

I’m not much of a speaker, but as many of us have realized over the past two years, while one voice can be silenced, together we are strong, and we can be heard. So, in addition to raising my voice and lending my support to Every Child Matters, MMIWG2S, and other movements here in Canada, I can take two concrete steps I’d like to mention today: reclamation and amplification.

Today, I’m here to amplify. I encourage you to look at the other names on this blog—check out their works, support them on ko-fi or patreon, back and purchase their projects, follow them on social media. Hear them. Keep an eye out for other Indigenous works, such as Coyote & Crow, and support the people involved. And if you’re an Indigenous TTRPG author who loves Starfinder and is struggling to have your voice heard, reach out to me. I’m listening.

Carlos Cabrera, Paizo Contributor (he/him)

Hi there, my name is Carlos Cabrera. I am mixed, but I identify as Mexican, Indigenous (Mescalero Apache), and Cape Verde (Portuguese and African). At first, I was going to write something for both Hispanic Heritage Month and Native American Heritage Month, but when I started looking into my family history—closer than I ever have before—I had to take some time for myself. The facts were not very pretty, and history was not kind to my family as early as either grandparent on my father’s side.

I also grew up in a white household. My mother's family comes from a variety of European countries, and even a little Cherokee as history also likes to dictate. There are other idiosyncrasies there as well, but I recognize that my upbringing comes with a certain amount of privilege. Earlier this year, I wrote to the Mescalero Apache Reservation to see if my family had any affiliation. My relief when I discovered they were not was short-lived. The facts of how my family avoided that were not any prettier.

I think that is why I pledged a copy of the Coyote & Crow RPG to the reservation and continue to write to this day. I hope it inspires someone to either get into games or go on their own grand adventure, even if they don't have the luxury of walking out their front door like I did. Maybe one day I can even pay them. I think that would be my American Dream.

Miiyu, from Starfinder Society #4-06: Combatants' Concerto: Prelude to Revolution by Shay Snow
Miiyu, a brown furred catfolk wearing all purple skirt and shawl while sining into a microphones

Shay Snow, Paizo Editor (they/them)

Kúha’ahat, táy:sha’! I’m Shay Snow and I’m mixed Native American. My family stems from two separate tribes—my mother’s tribe is Caddo and my father’s tribe is Swampy Cree. Both tribes have strong matriarchal ties, so when introducing myself I lead with my mother’s tribe and then follow-up with my father’s tribe. I can’t speak on being just a Native TTRPG creator, but I can speak on being a Caddo and Swampy Cree creator.

Being a Caddo creator means crafting your words carefully, knowing that your language is dying. Being a Caddo creator means trying to take all of the nuance of your language, the humor, the care, the cadence that warms your heart and makes you want to move when it’s spoken, and trying to put it into a language that your family was forced to adopt and speak. Being a Caddo creator means trying to find rhythm and when you can’t find it, forcing that rhythm into your work so that hopefully your words make other people want to move and dance.

Being a Swampy Cree creator means moving slowly through the minefield that is your history and trying to pluck the safe bits out so that your heritage doesn’t accidentally cause you pain. Being a Swampy Cree creator means knowing that some parts of your culture have been taken and commodified and it’s now on your shoulders to look at those spirits and offer your respect as you try to carefully tell their stories without causing danger or harm.

Being a Native creator in 2021 has meant creating and crafting with careful words and tools while also being painfully aware of everything pouring into the news and media over the past year. It means writing and trying to bring joy while burning sweetgrass and mourning over loved ones lost recently and loved ones lost long ago and recently found.

My name is Shay Snow, I live on unceded Caddo and Wichita land, and my family calls me Little Jay.

To all members of our community with indigenous heritage: thank you for all you do as creators, GMs, players, and people.

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Tags: Community Paizo Paizo Staff

7 people marked this as a favorite.

Thank you for sharing your stories, and the related complexities and challenges.

Liberty's Edge

5 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

To echo Berhagen, thank you! We are all enriched by your presence and creativity!

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber


Thank you for your work and effort!

6 people marked this as a favorite.

This is really moving; thank you for sharing some of your words and your stories with us, and for making such cool work.

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Thank you for sharing those stories with the community!


8 people marked this as a favorite.

Mike, Jessica, Carlos, and Shay, thank you all for sharing your stories! I appreciate how much you have all brought to the community in addition to Golarion and the Pact Worlds.

Silver Crusade

5 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Thank you all, really powerful blog.

Second Seekers (Jadnura)

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Thanks so much for sharing everyone!

Horizon Hunters

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Thank you for speaking and thank you for amplifying indigenous voices.

Paizo Employee Editor

6 people marked this as a favorite.

We are lucky to have you all in our community. Much love!

Grand Archive

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I'm very happy to have you all in our community!

Wayfinders Contributor

3 people marked this as a favorite.

Thank you so much for sharing your stories! You all bring us much joy.


6 people marked this as a favorite.

As a proud member of the Miꞌkmaq First Nation of the Northeastern Woodlands of Canada, I thank you Paizo for celebrating Native American Heritage Month! You wonderful people continue to inspire and impress us with your awesome and amazing content and we can only say we love ya for it. ;) :D

Dark Archive

7 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Thanks for sharing your stories, I love learning about other cultures and languages, listing to people speaking Caddo as I type this. Coyote & Crow looks amazing, hope Paizo does more with Native American Heritages similar to Lost Omens: The Mwangi Expanse.
Thanks again for sharing your stories and all the work you do at Paizo.

5 people marked this as a favorite.

Thank you!

Silver Crusade

3 people marked this as a favorite.

Thank you all for sharing these with us.

5 people marked this as a favorite.
Ashbourne wrote:

Thanks for sharing your stories, I love learning about other cultures and languages, listing to people speaking Caddo as I type this. Coyote & Crow looks amazing, hope Paizo does more with Native American Heritages similar to Lost Omens: The Mwangi Expanse.

Thanks again for sharing your stories and all the work you do at Paizo.

Here’s hoping we can see even more of Arcadia soon!

5 people marked this as a favorite.

Coyote and Crow

6 people marked this as a favorite.

Hello, and thank you all for sharing your stories. I am very new to Paizo and the World of Pathfinder/Starfinder although I have been playing RPG since the release of AD&D, and I am happy to see that Paizo is openly advocating diversity. The development of 'Coyote and Crow' is interesting and exciting. It is troublesome that concurrently in the community forum there is still an open call for a Moderation Team in regards to intolerance, homophobia and xenophobia. I am curious how you, as Indigenous Developers and Storytellers are bringing traditional, indigenous worldview to the gaming platform. Fantasy role-playing has remained entrenched in a materialist, capitalist exchange-based, goal-oriented ('Patriarchal'/'Imperialist') dynamic. From my experience with indigenous world-views, and non-dominant ('Matriarchal') mytho-magical and animist spiritual traditions, things are not merely things, but Wisdom-Taking-Form; Power is never personal (cannot be possessed, amassed, or bartered by individual Persons) but is always 'borrowed', received or channelled as Power belongs only to the Great Mystery. Human-Beings are not isolated players against a Nature-Shaped backdrop, but Communal Beings living within nature, responsible to and for one another. The land is not territory to be accumulated, nor an indication of personal, individual status, but represents a complex network of interdependent lifeforms in a fragile and delicate balancing act that evokes our stewardship. Indigenous Worldviews provide radically, divergent and Life-Affirming Value Systems. Forgive me if it sounds like I am reducing Indigenous Worldview to a singular, unified sameness; that is not my intention. Instead, I believe that pre-colonial World-Views provide a vital and viable perspective on complexity and difference, a living, embodied critique of the life-denying compulsion to reduce everything to Sameness. For example, many Indigenous cultures throughout the world have a far more complex understanding of gender than the Male/Female binary (ie; Heyoka, Two-Spirit and others); such a lens undermines the 'authority' of 'heterosexual, white males' that continue to bully their way through diverse communities such as this. I hope my inquiry provides grit for rumination and stimulates real dialogue. I believe Fantasy Role-Playing offers an arena for Imagining a better world IRL, not just escapism that reinforces the formula "Complete a task/Overcome the Adversary win XP/GP," and Might=Right. I hope my questions/comments are of value.

1 person marked this as a favorite.

It was a privilege to read about your collective experience, if only from the most superficial perspective. Thank you all for sharing!

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder PF Special Edition Subscriber

As others have said: These are powerful words. They will help me being more mindful of things I should be mindful of, even as I lack the background, culture, and personal history to fully understand them.

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