fbpx Indigenous Peoples' Day Panel: Native Women Leading | HowlRound Theatre Commons

Livestreamed on this page Monday 11 October 2021 at 12 p.m. HST (Honolulu, UTC -10) / 2 p.m. AKDT (Juneau, UTC -8) / 3 p.m. PDT (Los Angeles, UTC -7) / 4 p.m. MDT (Albuquerque, UTC -6) / 5 p.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC -5) / 6 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC -4).

Turtle Island (North America)
Monday 11 October 2021

Indigenous Peoples' Day Panel: Native Women Leading

Featuring Lofanitani Aisea, Jeanette Harrison, Murielle Borst-Tarrant, Moderated by Amber Ball (Dakubetede, Shasta, Modoc, Klamath)

Produced With
Monday 11 October 2021

For Indigenous Peoples' Day, In the Margin Theatre hosted conversation with Lofanitani Aisea (Black, Tongan, Modoc, Klamath, Tahlequah) artist-activist-actor, Jeanette Harrison (Onondaga Descent) co-founder of AlterTheater, and Murielle Borst-Tarrant (Kuna, Rappahannock) artistic director of Safe Harbors NYC.

In this conversation we discuss artistic leadership, practices, and methodology from an Indigenous perspective. It is our goal to highlight and amplify the work these three Native women continue to contribute to the arts world.

This is the first livestreamed event on HowlRound TV for In the Margin Theatre's The New American Theatre Festival. The other livestreams are: Power in Theatre Coalition Building (Wednesday 20 October), and Adaptation and New Creation (Thursday 21 October).

Panelist Bios

Jeanette Harrison (Onondaga Descent)

is a co-founder of AlterTheater, where she architected the ground-breaking AlterLab playwright residency program and currently serves as artistic director. She has shepherded more than 20 new plays to world premiere productions. A director, actor, and writer, she directed AlterTheater's world premieres of AlterLab commission Cow Pie Bingo by Larissa FastHorse, and Circular by Laura Shamas, and with Ann Brebner co-directed the world premiere of AlterLab commission Landless by Larissa FastHorse and The River Bride by Marisela Treviño Orta. Other directing credits include the multi-TBA Award-winning production The Amen Corner by James Baldwin. She has worked in casting, theater education, and worked onstage, on-camera and off-camera in both the non-profit and commercial entertainment industry. She has worked with Cutting Ball (…and Jesus Moonwalks the Mississippi by Marcus Gardley, winner of Best Production and Best Ensemble from the Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle), Aurora Theatre, Marin Theatre Company, Magic Theatre, Berkeley Rep, Theatre Rhino, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, Actors Theatre of Sonoma County, Sonoma County Rep, Golden Thread Productions, Woman’s Will, Playhouse West, and Combined Art Form Entertainment (C.A.F.E.), among others. She co-wrote with Sharmila Devar Feathers And Dots, Dots And Feathers, a half-hour single camera comedy about family and cultural identity that received developmental support from LA SkinsFest's Native Writers program, supported by CBS, and she was selected for LA SkinsFest's inaugural Native American Animation Lab, where she developed Little Drummer Girl.

Murielle Borst-Tarrant (Kuna/Rappahannock)

is an author, playwright, director, producer, cultural artist, educator, and human rights activist. Author of the fantasy series The Star Medicine, she studied at HB Studios in New York City, studied and interned with Spiderwoman Theater, and is also a graduate of Long Island University. She works on the deconstructing of methods of the arts in Native communities in urban areas across the country, Canada, and in the New York City education system. She also consults with many urban and non-urban universities on the development of Native theatre programming. Nominated for the Rockefeller grant in 2001, Borst-Tarrant won a Native Heart Award and was the only Native American Woman to be selected by the Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia at the Sydney Opera House for her one-woman show, More than Feathers and Beads. She served as the special assistant and liaison to Tonya Gonnella Frichner, the North American regional representative to the United Nations’ Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and served as chairwoman for the Woman’s Caucus for North America from 2013 to May 2014. Borst-Tarrant directed Muriel Miguel, founder of Spiderwoman Theater in Red Mother nationally and internationally, and was the keynote speaker for the Indigenous Women’s Symposium at Trent University. She was recently selected to speak on Repetition, Tradition and Change: Native oral history and contemporary art practice in hostel post-colonial times at the International Conference at the Muthesius Academy of Art in Kiel, Germany and the Norwegian Theater Academy. Named in American Theater Magazine as one of the most influential women in American theatre, Borst-Tarrant is the artistic director of Safe Harbor Indigenous Collective and consultant for La MaMa Experimental Theatre Indigenous Initiative. She has recently produced, written, and directed Don’t Feed the Indians—A Divine Comedy Pageant! at La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club.

Lofanitani Aisea

Waqlisat, Malo elelei!
(greetings in Maqlaqsyals and Tongan)

Lofanitani is a Black Indigenous woman who is Black and Tongan and her Native American tribes are Modoc, Tahlequah, and Klamath. As a digital creator, artist, actor, influencer, and GenZ activist Lofanitani unapologetically centers joy, power, and aspirations for the future in her work. Lofanitani is also an ensemble member for In The Margin and is a part of the the American Influencer Council’s Career Creator Club mentorship program which is based out of New York City.

Lofanitani was raised in Oregon both rural on her Klamath reservation in Chiloquin and urban in Portland. From making movies on her flip phone as a youth documenting life on the reservation to now where she recently created an award winning short film called Lwelek Honk Sa (2021) Lofanitani has always been a storyteller. Her short film Lwelek Honk Sa (2021) is a Rez Dogs meets Goonies adventure short film that is set Klamath/Modoc ancestral homelands and features an all Black Indigenous cast. Some of the themes in the film include sovereignty, perseverance and intergenerational knowledge.

Lofanitani navigates her experiences through art as a Black Indigenous woman to create space for others who navigate intersectionality and stand in their power. As social media and content creation have developed over the past few years, Lofanitani has found opportunities to put herself and her voice out there for the elevation and visibility of all of her communities. In navigating through the early COVID pandemic, Lofanitani found power through storytelling and digital influencing on TikTok and now has a fast growing social media presence across multiple platforms such as TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram. (@Lofanitani)

Exploring and pushing the boundaries of what “Native” can be has always been a part of what Lofanitani’s work has spoken to. Through educational TikToks, YouTube videos, and short film, Lofanitani shares activism work that navigates her own Black Indigenous experience and creates space for BIPOC who are underrepresented in media. Lofanitani’s vision for the future is to shatter outdated and violent representations of BIPOC and make space for intersecting identities that can be whatever they want, however they want.

“To navigate and thrive in this violent capitalistic society as BIPOC, we need the tools to re-conceptualize ourselves as visible people of power. I believe this begins with the creation of art, claiming space both physical and digital, community collaboration, self care, and sharing of wealth to make our ideas come to life on a global level.”

Connect with Lofanitani:
All social platforms (@Lofanitani)

B.A. Double Major in Asian Studies (Korea Focus) and Indigenous Race & Ethnic Studies | Minor: Native American & Indigenous Studies, University of Oregon


Amber Ball

(She/Her) | Dakubetede, Shasta, Modoc, Klamath

Amber Ball is a citizen of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz, theatre artist, community advocate, passionate programmer, and coordinator committed to serving and creating community through the arts. Amber is the current program director for Safe Harbors NYC and executive director of In the Margin.

As a director Amber’s work has most recently been seen in the Reflections of Native Voices Festival with Safe Harbors NYC. Directing Tipi Tales from the Stoop, by Murielle Borst-Tarrant. Society Theatre Company’s Cheap Date Series, In the Margin Theatre’s InstaNovelas, Oregon Contemporary Theatre’s Northwest 10 Festival, and the Pocket Playhouse. Amber is also a part of the inaugural Bridge Program Cohort with the National New Play Network and is producing the inaugural New American Theatre Festival in partnership between In the Margin and B St. Theatre. She also serves as a community advisor for Ilioo Native Theatre company.

Amber’s work centers community forward and intergenerational learning in collaboration with Native communities. She has worked at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival as the Native/Indigenous audience development associate where she collaborated with the nine federally recognized tribes of Oregon and Northern California tribes. She has presented her work and methodology at the Oregon Indian Education Association Conference. Appeared on Art Equity’s, Talking Back filmed podcast and as a special guest for Pangea World Theatre’s First Peoples Gathering. She has presented at the University of Oregon, California State University, Native American Youth and Family Center, Portland State University’s Native American Student and Community Center, Confederated Tribes of Siletz Youth Summit, and Southern Oregon University. Additionally Amber was awarded the Community Mentor Award from Southern Oregon University’s Native American Studies Department.

B.S. Theatre Arts | Minor: Native American Studies, University of Oregon

About HowlRound TV

HowlRound TV is a global, commons-based, peer-produced, open-access livestreaming and video archive project stewarded by the nonprofit HowlRound. HowlRound TV is a free and shared resource for live conversations and performances relevant to the world’s performing-arts and cultural fields. Its mission is to break geographic isolation, promote resource sharing, and develop our knowledge commons collectively. Anyone can participate in a community of peer organizations revolutionizing the flow of information, knowledge, and access in our field by becoming a producer and co-producing with us. Learn more by going to our participate page. For any other queries, email [email protected] or call Vijay Mathew at +1 917.686.3185 Signal/WhatsApp. View the video archive of past events.

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