Episode 51: Native Liberty & the Nirvana Fallacy | Jason Miller


I don’t know of anyone who would argue that Native Americans didn’t get a raw deal in the founding of America. The idea of Manifest Destiny, even if we’ve seen this play out across the world in various forms, is too often an attempt at deflection from acknowledging historical wrongs, which is an important step to forging a new American identity. Ideally, as part of this exercise we recognize not only the mistakes, but also the monumental spirit of overcoming.

With regards to Native American heritage there are still some institutional factors that have been baked into our legal system, which continue to perpetuate injustices. Take for example the Marshall Trilogy. This refers to three Supreme Court cases decided by Chief Justice John Marshall that still impact Native communities. This includes “the right of occupancy, but not ownership”. The Johnson v McIntosh case has codified and institutionalized the inability of Native people to pool, transfer and use land as an asset.  

And yet, despite “land acknowledgements” and the changing names of sports teams (Goodbye, Redskins), we are more, not less divided. Perhaps this is the essence of what Jason Miller, the host of the Native Liberty YouTube channel calls the Nirvana Fallacy.

The Nirvana Fallacy leans on black and white binaries that fail to acknowledge the nuance and complexity of human nature. The latest binaries that define critical pedagogy, which focus on white supremacy and oppressor and oppressed distinctions, detract from correcting real injustices.

Those who fall into the Nirvana Fallacy trap, often see revolution as the only answer to correcting these injustices, and to usher in a more utopian existence. However, the revolution in mind is one that dismisses the heterogeneity of Native cultures, in favor of an overarching Marxist ideology. This lumps Native communities into monolithic groups and dismisses the heroic struggle for liberty and freedom that defines many distinct tribes.

According to Jason, the way forward, although without its own pitfalls and imperfections, is embracing classical liberal principles that promote both individuality and individual freedoms, and personal and community responsibility. It is only in the acknowledgment of these complexities that we can truly address the crisis of meaning that threatens both tribal communities and civilization as we know it.

In the Hold my Drink — navigating culture with a chaser of civility, and Counterweight podcast, Episode 51, we speak with Jason Miller, host of Native Liberty. Jason hails from the Hopi and Miwok tribes and has spent much of his professional career working within tribal communities. We discuss his issues with tribal injustices and his adherence to classical liberal values to realize a Native Liberty that benefits both tribal communities and civilization in general.

Hold my Drink welcomes all people with all kinds of beverages to join us as we explore the truths of a chaotic and beautiful world, together.

Find us on Apple Podcasts and Spotify, or watch the conversation unfold on YouTube, and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

What Jason is Reading

Red Pedagogy, Sandy Grande

Indigenous Methodologies, Margaret Kovach

Jen’s Resources

My Diatribe, Native Liberty on YouTube

The Pedagogy of Discomfort, Native Liberty on YouTube

Jason Miller is a breed.  He is a registered member of the Hopi Tribe with family from the Miwok and Colorado River Indian Tribes; he is also half German Scottish from his Dad's side out of KY - outlaw hillbilly side. He worked on a reservation for over 24 years and have family that live on multiple reservations throughout the states.  That's his native street cred.

He started his YouTube channel because he had native and non-native friends, family, and coworkers who came to me with questions and were experiencing, at that time, very strained relationships with their college-bound children, spouting these very insidious ideas; yet, what was most alarming to these parents was the very strident and militant tone they were encountering from their children...out of this was born his small channel, in an attempt to systemize and codify a response.