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Essays / Ensayos / Ensaios

Performance and Mayan Identity on the Yucatan Peninsula
Tamara Underiner

Black Indians and Savage Christians
Sarah Jo Townsend

La historia de "Benetton contra los mapuches"
Claudia Briones & Ana Ramos

"Cistemaw iyiniw ohci," A Performance by Cheryl L'Hirondelle
Candice Hopkins

A identidade do Amazonas expressa no folclore do Boi-Bumbá
Erick Bessa Pinheiro

Short Articles / Artículos Breves / Artigos Curtos

Bolivia's Indians Confront Globalization
John Mohawk

South Dakota is the Mississippi of the North
Luke Warm Water

Excerpt from Powwow
George Horse Capture

Casino Nation
Terry Jones

Dana Claxton
Kristin Dowell

Op-Ed: Commercialism and Native Art

Multimedia Presentations

In Every Issue:

Humor / Humor / Humor

e-Gallery / e-Galería / e-Galeria

Reviews / Reseñas / Resenhas

News and Events / Noticias y Eventos / Notícias e Eventos

Activism / Activismo / Ativismo

Links / Enlaces / Links

Editorial Remarks
by Raquel Chapa & Jolene Rickard

The second issue of e-misférica, the Hemispheric Institute's e-journal, is coming out right after the fifth Encuentro in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, entitled Performing Heritage: Contemporary Indigenous and Community-Based Practices. The e-journal, like the Encuentro, focuses on the diverse ways in which performance is being negotiated by Aboriginal artists, scholars, activists, and filmmakers. This perspective is informed by the participation of Indigenous people from across the Americas (and New Zealand) who gathered in Belo Horizonte to share art, ideas, and performances. Reflections from the fifth Encuentro and juried essays reveal the complexity of performance practice in the Americas. As co-editors of this issue of the Hemispheric Institute's e-journal and as Native people we are attempting to map out the multiple ways in which "performance" is enacted as Aboriginal space. The experience of the fifth Encuentro moved from the Kaiapó and Maxacalí welcoming dances to the ironic The Shame Man Meets el Mexican't, a performance by James Luna (Luiseño/Diegueño), Guillermo Gómez-Peña (Mexico/U.S.) and Violeta Luna (Mexico). We view these diverse expressions equally as "performing" our Aboriginality, but with very different intentions and reception. These experiences blur the line between audience and performer while shaping the encounter as an "in the moment" exchange between diverse Indigenous groups and general participants. At the fifth Encuentro, Indigeneity was performed against a backdrop of insightful discussions about the complex issues facing Native communities today. Topics ranging from land desecration, gender identities, addictions, police violence, and ongoing colonization leveled the dichotomies between North and South "America."

We recognize that Aboriginal performance, whether interpreted as a celebratory dance or ironic statement, is also an act of revolution, a defiant gesture against the erasure of Indigenous presence in the Americas.  The friction between the perception of past and future Indigeneity conflicts with our paradigm of belief—the belief that we operate on a continuum, that there is no separation between the past and the present, and that joy tempers grief.  Furthermore, these productions sparked dialogue among the different communities and across the many disciplines. As articulated by co-editor Rachael Chapa's exchange with observer Annabel Wong, "It is more than valuable to look at these dichotomies and to think not only about how Native people's history is filled with thousands upon thousands of stories and experiences like this, but also about how we are now the makers of these performances that show others and other Natives the truths about the world we come from and still live in today."  

The Encuentro provided the opportunity for us to experience performance on multiple levels. This issue of e-misférica expands temporal expressions through essays informed by academic and Aboriginal authorship, providing a good cross-section of issues, philosophies, and debates going on in the field of Aboriginal Performance.

Many of the contributors to the e-journal are writing from within their own communities. A number of papers deal with how Native peoples "perform" our identities within traditional, colonial, and transitional spaces. Methodologically, the papers range from academic approaches to personal narratives.  The analysis of othering in Mexican Danzas by Sarah Townsend (U.S.) reveals an ongoing practice of arcane representations. In her piece, Tamara Underiner (U.S.) identifies a specific population of Mayan origin; however, it also effectively exposes the ways in which tourism influences the perception of the Indigenous self across cultures. Erick Bessa Pinheiro (Brazil) provides a thorough account of the Festival Folclórico de Parintins in Brazil, in which issues of intangible heritage, identity, and hybridization get worked out through performances of rivalry.

Arguably the most "performed" notion of Nativeness is recuperated by George Horse Capture (Gros Ventra) in his insightful yet intimate articulation of his relationship to the powwow. These critiques are counterbalanced with a selection of articles that recognize "activism" as performing self-determination and Indigenous agency. The new stages are legal frameworks instigated by performing our politic. John Mohawk (Seneca) reveals how protest performs Indigenous autonomy and leads to reform in Bolivia. The work of Luke Warm Water (Lakota) at Pine Ridge provides a parallel example. Peter Kulchyski (Canada) demonstrates how evidence is "performed" to the advantage of the Wuskwatim project in Cree Territory (Manitoba, Canada). Claudia Briones and Ana Ramos (Argentina) explore how the Benetton vs. Mapuche case provides another example of Indigenous peoples performing their inherent rights in order to secure or defend them against further encroachment.

Critical to the vitality of the fifth Encuentro was the participation of students. They provided a variety of perspectives on the effectiveness of performance as politics within different communities. Ramona Neckoway (Cree) provides an insider's view on the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation in northern Manitoba. Katrina Lacey recovers the Jamaican homeland of her parents. Citlali Martinez (Mexican/Puerto Rican) focuses on migrant communities as a form of erasure, while Tina Majkowski (Kiowa) questions the confining idea of community.

As co-editors we are intentionally expanding the boundaries of "performance" to include ceremonial protocol and Aboriginal identity and politics. This recognition does not stand in opposition to the inclusion of work that is conventionally recognized as "art," like Seneca filmmaker Terry Jones's account about making a film in his home community of Cattaragus, New York. As a complement to the issue of performance and heritage, other pieces explore the work of innovative female artists, such as Dana Claxton (Lakota) and Cheryl L'Hirondelle (Metis) from Canada. Kristin Dowell's piece on Claxton illustrates the artist's feelings about accountability to her community and to the people she is representing. The article on L'Hirondelle by Tlingit curator Candice Hopkins also reveals the need to include community in the creation of art and to broaden a restricted art market. The Op-Ed section invites a closer look at the Native Art market, as two curators, Elizabeth Slocum (Cherokee) and Miranda Belarde-Lewis (Zuni/Tlingit), meditate on the effects of commerce on Native production.  

The multimedia section has grown this time providing some examples of the dissemination of information through new media and its various incarnations. The installation piece It is Heavy on My Heart by Gail Tremblay (Onondaga/Micmac) explores the devastating effects of nuclear waste on reservation land. In her short video, Sovereignty, Hulleah J. Tsinhnahjinnie (Dine/Muscogee) exposes some of the misrepresentations of Native peoples and treaty rights. There is a new section on Native Radio that highlights the transmission of oral enactments and its various interactions.

The goal of this edition of e-misférica is to shed light on some of the more pressing issues in Native communities today. We hope it will further the interaction between Native and non-Native artists, scholars, and activists across the Americas, and that the dialogue between the field of Performance Studies and Native performance continues to grow.  


This issue is dedicated to Dan Viets Lomahaftewa (1951-2005), a valued member of the Native arts community and someone we will all miss.

We would like to acknowledge Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, the Salt River Pima Tribe and the Collins Family, The Ford Foundations, Louise Profeit-LeBlanc and the Canadian Council of the Arts, Kerry Swanson and Danis Goulet of ImagiNative, Amalia Cordova, Bently Spang, Rulan Tangen and Kathryn Mark and Dancing Earth and all the contributors to the e-journal and participants in the Encuentro, with infinite gratitude for their help and support in bringing Aboriginal Performance to Brazil and for putting out this issue.  

Jolene Rickard is a lecturer, writer, artist, and curator who is widely sought after for her writing and thinking on Native American issues. Rickard uses her artwork as a way to create personal and political metaphors examining native culture and the way native peoples are seen in white society. Her works have specific meaning in Tuscarora culture—she frequently uses imagery referencing Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) culture, including Skywoman, and the great turtle, which became the earth. Native beadwork traditions also play a significant part in her work. Rickard has exhibited her work at the Heard Museum, the Denver Art Museum, and the Houston Center for Photography, the Johnson Museum at Cornell, and the Barbican Museum in London, among other venues. She has also been a frequent consultant to the National Museum of the American Indian; most recently to the new museum in Washington, D.C. Rickard is currently a professor within the Departments of Art and Art History at the University Buffalo.

Raquel Chapa (Lipan Apache/Yaqui/Cherokee) is the current Native American Curator at the Hemispheric Institute. She has a B.A. from University of Houston in English and an M.A. in Museum Science from Texas Tech. While working towards her M.A., Raquel participated on the first NAGPRA, which was newly enacted legislation. After graduating this she worked with Indigenous Collections at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe, and Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in New York. During this time she has also curated an online exhibit of modern Native art for NYARTs, and produced a short for Nickelodeon for National Indian Month 2002

Post your comments, reactions, and responses to the pieces in the e-misférica forum. You can also post general questions about the e-journal.