The Black Feathers Podcast logo against a red backdrop. The logo is a turquoise medallion with black accents, containing a design consisting of two feathers on opposite sides surrounding the Choctaw symbol for "Unity in diversity". The text reads "Black Feathers Podcast, Disability Conversations for All".

Welcome to the Black Feathers!

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What is the Black Feathers Podcast?

In this podcast, co-hosts Crystal Hernandez, Psy.D., MBA, and Shauna Humphreys, MS, LPC, will discuss disability-related topics of interest to Tribal communities through data, storytelling, and innovative content. With this podcast, we embrace diversity, equity, and honor within our vast Tribal Nations. We will also be providing additional resources related to these topics to our audience and welcome everyone to join the conversation.

The Origin of the Black Feathers Podcast

In 2019, the State of the States in Intellectual and Developmental Project of National Significance asked to partner with a vast array of Tribal members to understand the journey of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families within the Tribal Nations. The genesis of Black Feathers emerged from these conversations.

Why Black Feathers?

In some Tribes, the black feather is a symbol that represents not being alone on your life's journey and walking together without fear. To honor our Tribal roots, we have chosen the black feathers and symbol for unity as the main symbols for our podcast. These two symbols used together represent standing forward as one community, advocating for and supporting each other. The turquoise represents harmony and the red warrior. We will walk this journey with our listeners, reflecting on the vast beauty of human existence with our brothers and sisters, leaning in and standing firm. 



Crystal Hernandez, Psy.D., MBA

Dr. Crystal Hernandez is a proud Cherokee who is a psychologist by training, Tribal disabilities expert, researcher, and mother to 3, including a wonderful Autistic young man. Recently serving the State of Oklahoma as an inpatient psychiatric hospital administrator, she has over 2 decades of experience in the mental health and addiction field. Dr. Hernandez serves as a Board member for the Autism Foundation of Oklahoma and the Arc of Oklahoma, and is also a Program Advisory Committee member for the State of the States in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. She believes in service to others and works relentlessly to improve clinical treatments, diagnosis, and equitable access to care for all. Culturally rooted supports and services are central to Dr. Hernandez and she embeds this principle in every aspect of her life. Dr. Hernandez holds several executive level contracts, including those with several Tribal Nations.

"It is through our service to others that we find the meaning of strength."

Crystal Hernandez


Black Feathers 12: Strengthening Our People with Dana Miller

This month host Crystal is joined by Dana Miller, a Seminole and Ojibwe citizen, who serves as Ward 1 Councilperson for the City of Seminole. In her professional career, Dana has proposed and implemented innovative strategies that have led to effective policy and best practices. Highlights of her career in Medicaid include implementing a policy that allowed for coverage of Native children residing in boarding schools. Dana has been recognized nationally for efforts to address healthcare disparities in tribal communities.  After a long tenure with state government, she now owns Dana Miller Consulting (DMC) where she provides expert guidance and advocacy for tribal health care programs. They discuss the importance of strengthening Native people: Gathering resources and knowledge about system navigation and bringing it back for the greater good.


Black Feathers 11: State of the States in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilties

In Episode 11, Crystal talks with Dr. Shea Tanis, from the University of Kansas, about her project the State of the States in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. The State of the States in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities project was initiated in 1982 to investigate the determinants of public spending for intellectual and developmental disabilities services in the United States. The project has developed a 40-year record of revenue, spending, and programmatic trends in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the United States as a whole.

State of the States in IDD

Black Feathers 10: A Toolkit on Disability for Indian Country

ICrystal talks with three individuals who serve on the National Indian Council on Aging (NICOA) Larry Curley, Navajo Nation, executive director of NICOA, Desiree Lapahie, Navajo Nation, data analyst of the NICOA and Rebecca Owl Morgan, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, project coordinator at the NICOA.  They discuss updates to the Toolkit "Understanding Disabilities in American Indian & Alaska Native Communities".

For a full list of resources please visit: The Black Feathers Podcast


Black Feathers 9: Pervasive Parenting with Kodey Toney

In Episode 9, hosts Crystal and Shauna are joined by special guest Kodey Toney. Kodey is the director of the Pervasive Parenting Resource Center C.P.R.C., but most importantly he is a father and husband. He and his wife Jennifer have two sons, Konner and Kruz. Konner’s diagnosis of autism at the age of three has sparked him to create a resource center to help families in eastern Oklahoma cope with disabilities. In 2015, Toney received the TARC Parent Advocate of the Year award for the state of Oklahoma. He was also named the 2019 Oklahoma Advocate of the Year for Partners in Policymaking, and the 2019 Community Health Champion for the state of Oklahoma. He sits on more than 20 boards and committees and serves as a voice for fathers and rural communities. 

You can check out Pervasive Parenting’s website by clicking here: Pervasive Parenting Website

For a full list of resources please visit: The Black Feathers Podcast


Black Feathers 8: Youth Engagement at Arizona's Sonoran Center

Crystal and Shauna are joined by special guest Joshua Drywater. Joshua is the Program Manager for Native Initiatives at the University of Arizona’s Sonoran Center for Excellence in Disabilities. He and his team support people overcoming barriers to employment through initiatives such as the Finds Their Way Project. The Finds Their Way Project supports Native youth with disabilities in developing knowledge to participate in competitive, integrated employment.

For a full list of resources please visit: The Black Feathers Podcast 

Black Feathers 7: Chickasaw Nation Perseverance: The Secret to Triumph

In episode 7, hosts Crystal and Shauna are joined by Dr. Misty Boyd and Dr. Shannon Dial. Dr. Dial received her PhD in 2014 and shortly after began her work for the Chickasaw Nation. Shannon has been with the tribe for eight years and currently works as the Executive Officer of the Integrated Services Division in the Department of Family Services. Because April is Autism Acceptance Month, they hope this episode will help raise awareness about the need for early childhood autism screening services, the importance of community and family voices, and they discuss the hurdles in setting up autism amenities in rural Tribal areas. 

For a full list of resources please visit: The Black Feathers Podcast 

Black Feathers 6: Live Beyond the Conversation: Developmental Disability Month in Tribal Nations

Crystal and Shauna investigate the partnerships across the U.S. between state Councils on Developmental Disabilities and Tribal Nations. They were joined by joined by Sarah Young Bear-Brown a member of the Sac & Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa - the Meskwaki Nation, Dr. Cheryl Funmaker and Kody Funmaker from the Ho-Chunk Nation in Wisconsin. Darold H. Joseph, Ph.D. of Paa-Is-wung-wa (Water Coyote Clan) from the Hopi Village of Lower Moenkopi.

Episode 5: Legacy Work with Jim E Warne
February 20, 2023

Crystal and Shauna are joined by special guest Jim Warne. Jim wears many hats, including those of educator, advocate, motivational speaker, and an Emmy-nominatedfilmmaker. He’s created continuing Education programs at SDSU Interwork Institute from 1993-2015, has written over 50 million in grants and contracts for universities and Tribal Nations and is currently the Community Engagement Director at University of South Dakota Center for Disabilities, Oyáte Circle Sanford School of Medicine. During this episode, Jim draws on his own personal experience of growing up with a father living with MS to discuss several topics including using correct terminology when referring to individuals living with disabilities, emphasizing the importance of staying connected to his Lakota heritage, and the barriers that Tribal Nations still face when trying to obtain legislative support. 

To learn more about the Oglala Sioux Tribe, you can checkout their website here: Oglala Lakota Nation

To view Jim’s Emmy-nominated short film “Oyáte un Itówapi” you can do so by clicking here: Oyáte un Itówapi and to view his other short film “Remember the Children” you can do so by clicking here: Remember the Children

Episode 4

In this episode, hosts Crystal, Shauna, and this week’s guest Krista Fincher, speak to us regarding her personal journey with her children and their experience in navigating learning disabilities and anxiety. Krista is a Choctaw tribal member, a wife, mother of two and works as the Director for Chi Hullo Li, a residential treatment center for women. All three women hope this episode and the materials discussed help provide more insight into the early signs of learning disabilities, the challenges of getting specialized education services through school, and the self-esteem and anxiety issues that arise from having learning disabilities.

To learn more about Chi Hullo Li, please visit:  
For the full list of resources, please visit:





Episode 3

In episode three, Black Feathers hosts Crystal and Shauna, along with guest Miranda Carman, a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation and a clinical social worker who’s also a passionate advocate for children with autism and their families, will discuss Miranda’s own personal experience caring for her son with autism and the challenges they faced as a family with trying to get a clear diagnosis from physicians within the Tribal community. All three women hope this episode and the resources provided, help shed light on the early signs of autism, emphasize the importance of parental advocacy for children with autism, and the importance of culturally rooted services and treatment.

For the full list of resources, please visit:




Episode 2

988 Suicid Crisis Line

Black Feathers’ hosts Crystal and Shauna discuss the importance of mental health with Johnna James, citizen of Chickasaw Nation, who will talk about her family’s journey with disability, mental health and suicide. If you are having a mental health crisis please visit 988 Crisis Lifeline or call 988.




Episode 1

In this episode, co-hosts Crystal Hernandez, Psy.D., MBA, and Shauna Humphries, MS, LPC, will welcome listeners to Black Feathers Podcast.  In this podcast we will discuss disability-related topics of interest to Tribal communities through data, storytelling, and innovative content. Crystal and Shauna will share their own families stories with disability and how that motivated them to improve family access to resources and remove barriers for all.  Thank you for joining us and remember together, we are stronger and it is the roots that bind us and that none of us walk alone.

Black Feathers News

  • Black Feathers Podcast News Release

    Hosted by Crystal Hernandez, Psy.D., M.B.A., and Shauna Humphreys, M.S., L.P.C., both experts in mental health, Black Feathers is a product of the State of the States in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Ongoing Longitudinal Data Project of National Significance and produced with support from the Kansas University Center on Developmental Disabilities (KUCDD), a part of the KU Life Span Institute. Episodes focus on Native American experiences with intellectual disabilities, learning disabilities, mental health, anxiety disorders and healthcare access, among other topics.

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    Administration for Community Living (ACL) logo
    State of the States logo, a blue United States map inside of a circular seal.
    KU Center on Developmental Disabilities Logo

    The podcast is an initiative of the States of the States in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Project of National Significance and The Kansas University Center on Excellence in Developmental Disabilities.