Anthropology Magazine

Podcast Season 4 — Our Past Is the Future

Podcast Season 4 — Our Past Is the Future

Searching for sunken slave ships. Preserving sacred sites. Challenging narratives. Uncovering hidden histories. This season on the podcast, SAPIENS explores how Black and Indigenous voices are changing the stories archaeology tells. Through an array of deep dives, interviews, and storytelling, we re-center the stories of our pasts to orient us toward a new future.

We invite you to listen and learn with our hosts Dr. Ora Marek-Martinez and Yoli Ngandali on their journey to explore why these stories matter—how archaeology is not just about who we were but about who we are and who we can become.


The SAPIENS podcast is an editorially independent series supported by the Wenner-Gren Foundation and produced by House of Pod, created this season in partnership with the Society of Black Archaeologists and Indigenous Archaeology Collective.

Jeanette Harris-Courts was season 4’s lead producer, alongside producer Juliette Luini and story editor Rebecca Mendoza Nunziato. Jason Paton was audio editor and sound designer. Dr. Justin Dunnavant, Dr. Ayana Flewellen, Dr. Sara Gonzalez, Dr. Ora Marek-Martinez, Yoli Ngandali, Dr. Danilyn Rutherford, and Dr. Adam T. Smith also served as producers. Cat Jaffee and Dr. Chip Colwell were executive producers.

A companion series to expand on these conversations titled “SAPIENS Talk Back” is being produced by the Archaeology Centers Coalition in collaboration with Cornell University’s RadioCIAMS.

Interested in using this season’s episodes in the classroom? Discover these new Teaching SAPIENS units on Black Archaeologies and Indigenous Archaeologies.

Season 4 Hosts

Dr. Ora Marek-Martinez (she/her/asdzáá) is a citizen of the Diné Nation, she’s also Nez Perce. As the executive director of the Native American Cultural Center, her work includes supporting and ensuring the success of Northern Arizona University Native American and Indigenous students through Indigenized programming and services. As an assistant professor in Northern Arizona University’s anthropology department, her research interests include Indigenous archaeology and heritage management, research and approaches that utilize ancestral knowledge, and decolonizing and Indigenizing methodologies and storytelling in the creation of archaeological knowledge to reaffirm Indigenous connections to land and place. Ora is a founding member of the Indigenous Archaeology Coalition.

Yoli Ngandali (she/her/hers) is a member of the Ngbaka Tribe from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a Ronald E. McNair fellow, and a Ph.D. candidate in archaeology at the University of Washington. Her research interests span archaeologies of colonialism, Indigenous archaeology, archaeologies of Central Africa, trans-Indigenous traditions of culture sharing, Black and Indigenous futurity, digital conservation science, remote sensing, and multi-spectral imaging. Yoli’s doctoral dissertation develops digital and community-based participatory research approaches to Indigenous art revitalization within museum settings and highlights Indigenous carving traditions in the Pacific Northwest.

Season 4 Sponsors

  • Imago Mundi Fund at Foundation for the Carolinas
  • Cornell Institute of Archaeology and Material Studies
  • Denver Museum of Nature & Science
  • University of California, Los Angeles, Cotsen Institute of Archaeology
  • University of California, San Diego, Scripps Center for Marine Archaeology
  • University of Michigan Museum of Anthropological Archaeology
  • Brown University Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology & the Ancient World
  • Columbia University’s Center for Archaeology
  • University of Massachusetts, Boston, Fiske Center
  • University of California, Berkeley, Archaeological Research Facility
  • University of Colorado, Denver, Department of Anthropology
  • University of Arizona School of Anthropology


E7. Repatriation Is Our Future

In the SAPIENS podcast season 4 finale, listeners hear the story of Dr. Rachel Watkins and why repatriation matters for African American communities. // Listen Now


E6. Slavery, Sustenance, and Resistance

In this SAPIENS podcast episode, meet the archaeologists who are investigating how “slave cuisine” can be a new site of understanding Black survival and resistance. // Listen Now


E5. More Than a Mountain

In this SAPIENS podcast episode, listeners learn about Dzil Nchaa Si’an, a sacred mountain in Arizona that Apache tribal members depend on and deeply value. The mountain has also become a site of resistance. // Listen Now


E4. Curating as Caretaking

This episode of the SAPIENS podcast takes listeners behind the scenes in museums to explore how Black and Indigenous curators are re-imagining what their collections and exhibitions can do to change minds and transform hearts. // Listen Now


E3. At the Heart of It All

In the third episode of season 4 of the SAPIENS podcast, an archaeologist and community historian share the difficult stories of identifying and protecting unmarked graves at Indigenous boarding schools and a historic African American cemetery threatened by development. // Listen Now


E2. Redrawing the Boundaries

The second episode of season 4 of the SAPIENS podcast features stories about what it means to unearth African history on the Caribbean island of St. Croix and why Black archaeologists are searching for sunken slave ships. // Listen Now


E1. Guided by the Past

Hosts Dr. Ora Marek-Martinez and Yoli Ngandali share how they found their way to archaeology and what it means to be Black and Indigenous archaeologists. From defying the status quo in a classroom to diving through sunken ships, Ora and Yoli bring listeners on a journey of reclaiming stories and reimagining history. // Listen Now