Livestreamed on this page on Tuesday 31 March 2020 at 2 p.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC-7) / 4 p.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC-5) / 5 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC-4).
Praxis Sessions for Virtual Collaboration: Land Acknowledgements
hosted by Unsettling Dramaturgy: Crip & Indigenous Dramaturgies
Administrator: Okay, we're live.
Tara Moses: Hello, everyone. Welcome to Unsettling Dramaturgy's Launch of our Praxis Sessions for Virtual Collaboration. In this four part series, we will address approaches to, and practices in online convening that center unsettling, decolonization, indigenization and disability justice in process design. This series emerges from our year-plus of work in research, in transnational convening, in creative collaboration through virtual mediums. This series has been developed as our response to the term towards online organizing that has followed the COVID-19 crisis. This, the first session in this series, centers on a practice of land acknowledgements in virtual, cross-geographic collaboration. We are offering this session because our dear collaborator and my co narrator Claudia Alick asked us to reflect on this question with her and we are actively building our own practices, independently and collectively. And so with that, I'm going to turn it over to Claudia to talk about Unsettling Dramaturgy, who we are, what we do, all that cool stuff. Claudia.
Claudia Alick: Thank You. Thank you so much, Tara. So Unsettling Dramaturgy is an ongoing project, bringing together Crip and Indigenous dramaturgs from across Canada, so-called Canada, and the United States who work in theatre, dance and experimental performance. Using digital platforms, we gathered to build relationships, explore, document the critical convergences and divergences in our experiences in work. We're amplifying Crip and Indigenous aesthetics, ethics, practices, leadership in our local, national, and international performance ecologies and this is all to push the conversation from inclusion to centering, from reconciliation to unsettling and decolonization. This project proposes a continuation of the thriving legacies of leadership and innovation that shape Indigenous and Crip dramaturgies, but in a whole new way. By bringing together artists from communities that have been historically excluded from mainstream performance ecologies, and which have been further siloed into spaces of making that have systematically prevented critical cross-community collaboration. We are dismantling these silos to advance emerging conversations, exploring the conflicts of leadership and representation and creation and production, as related to Indigenous sovereignty and Deaf, mad, and disabled culture in the arts. We are generating a platform for self-determined encounter and exchange, where our local bodies of knowledge can be activated.
It bears importance to share that this project does not aim to collapse Crip and Indigenous dramaturges and experiences. The exclusions that our communities face emerge from very specific historical, cultural and political context. Further the ableism, sanism and autism that Deaf, disabled, and mad artists face emerge from colonial ways of assigning value and human dignity. We use “Crip” to include those who identify as mad, sick and disabled as well as those who are deemed disabled by society and or medical institutions. Whether or not they themselves accept the term, for example, those whom are lower d or upper case D “Deafness” is a cultural identity, not a medical condition. We use the word Crip as a political intervention to turn attention onto and to disrupt as our collaborator Carmen Papalia. I'm realizing I'm gonna mess up everybody's name, so I'm apologizing in advance, Carmen, 'cause I think I've only said Carmen. Papalia writes the disabling condition that limits a person and or community's agency and potential to thrive. We use “the Indigenous” with an acknowledgement of the many complex ways that community, family, belonging, polity and heritage interact with systems of state recognition. The words Crip and Indigenous are both used at shorthand and are not intended to generalize or reduce our vast multiplicity of identities, experiences and affiliations. This project, we have been meeting for a long time over the internet across space and time and we are very grateful to this project. The generous support by the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas and the Canada Council for the Arts. And of course, huge shout out to our partner HowlRound, which is live streaming today's event for us. Thank you, thank you. I'm now going to hand the metaphorical mic back to Tara.
Tara: Thank you. So everyone, through this live and interactive digital panel, we are bringing together collaborating artists involved in Unsettling Dramaturgy. Two, we are exploring the necessity, importance, complexity, and difficulty of land acknowledgements in the context of online organizing, creation and collaboration. The plan for today's session, is that first, we're going to do an opening. Secondly, following our opening, the Unsettling Dramaturgy creative collaborators will engage in an exchange on today's theme for approximately 60 minutes. We will speak from our respective and body knowledges and practices within orientation towards expanding collective practice as it is relevant to local ecologies. Number three, we will exchange with you. Those of you tuning in. We are very excited to interact with you all throughout this session. We wanna hear your questions, your reflections. In spoiler we're going to ask you some questions. So feel free to interact with us in the ways that you do that. There are three different ones. The first is that you can message us via WhatsApp. That number is one, eight, zero, three, three, two, three, seven, six, three, eight. This information is also on the Facebook event, I believe and other HowlRound page. So in case you miss it, don't worry. You can also email us at u[email protected]. And number three you can comment on the live stream itself. On the Unsettling Dramaturgy Facebook page.
We have lovely, lovely moderators who are keeping in track of all of those to send those towards us. And then finally we'll end with a closing. And also another thing about our structure, is that we will be taking a 10 minute break at the hours. So just, we'll put a note up so we know we're on a break. So you know what to expect. And so that's just one of the many things we do for accessibility, which is such a great segue back to Claudia.
Claudia: Thank you so much for naming and highlighting some of our accessibility practices that we have embedded in our meeting culture. So today's session is being live captioned and ASL Interpreted, our interpreters asked us to share the following disclaimer, the ASL English Interpretation serves to facilitate communication and does not constitute an authentic record of the original signed and or spoken language. Only the original signed and or spoken language or the revised written translation is considered authentic. Talking to why ASL interpretation and CART are essential elements of how we've built this event and how this, that is complex and complicated to navigate in online forums. But it's important and it requires input from all of our community, especially our Deaf community to do this well. So we appreciate your participation and we also appreciate all of your feedback. We will remain an emergent and responsive shape throughout today's event. Adjusting our pace. I tend to talk fast. So that's a note for me. Adjusting our pace and the shape of our conversation to reflect the pace and shape of our collaborators. We will name our access needs at the top of the event and anytime they arise throughout our time together. That is our accessibility practice. A recording is being made of this event and will be available for viewing following this event for asynchronous accessibility. And now I'm going to hand the mic back to Tara, so we can Check in as narrators.
Tara: Awesome. So something that we do in our unsettling practice is that at the top of every digital convening, we have a series of check in bullet points that we hit. And they are your name, your pronouns, your land acknowledgement, physical description, how you are, your access needs. And then for today's purposes, we'll also do a very brief introduction to some aspect of our work and practice. And then we also always ask what's unsettling about the work we're presenting right now, and where we feel, how we noticed that in our bodies, how that manifests in other ways. And so for today's purposes we'll go through that. And yes, I'll kick us off. And again, all my friends who are on the Zoom, that's a lot of things to remember. So we have the document up. Just feel free to ask and I'll pop off what you're missing. So first thing, my name is Tara Moses. My pronouns are she, her, hers. I am calling in from a Muskogee, Cherokee, and Osage Nations where they intersect, which is also known as so-called Tulsa, Oklahoma.
My physical description, I have very long, very dark hair that's pulled into a ponytail. I have light brown skin that is being washed out by terrible lighting. It's so bad. Anyway, I also have on bright red glasses today. Very large earrings. They say de-colonize if you can see them. It's pretty exciting. Yes they do. My friend, she's a Lakota artist. She made them, anyway. I also have on a red and black scarf, a light gray heathered shirts. And then behind me you can see my lovely kitchen and if you see a cat running around, it is probably Avocado or Prime Rib. I will let you know. Yes, my access needs are currently being met. I am very parched. My water's about halfway done. So if you see my camera go off, I'm going to get some water, but I will be around. How I am, well, not the best because I feel most of us are. So just keeping it real, just been dealing with a lot of unnecessary living situation, habitability things that we shouldn't also be dealing with during the pandemic. But aside from that, I am very excited to be on this new adventure with my unsettling cohort and the wonderful conversation to come. And so a very brief introduction to some aspect of my personal work and practice. I am a director, a playwrights, a dramaturge, and an artistic director. I think I said. Anyway of a company based in Tulsa that does new native and Latino work. Du du du du du, wonderful. Anyway. And so I guess that's it in a nutshell. I do it all. I'm trying.
And so what's unsettling about the work I am presenting with right now and like where I feel noticed at my body. I mean, First Peoples Fund's Cultural Capital Fellow this year and my project all centered around meeting with elders, do transcribe their stories and then take those stories to create a new play or an anthology of plays, super exciting all about it. However, with the crisis that we're in, that's impossible for me to do. And with the elders I plan to speak with technology is another barrier for and challenge for some folks because of lack of internet access, lack of access to a tablet, phone, computer, anything anyway. And so that's currently unsettling with me now in figuring out how I can continue on with this project. Whenever we're in this unforeseeable future timeline place, we'll find out what we'll do with that. Yeah, and I don't know why, but I'm really feeling that in my feet. Right, like that connection to the earth. Yeah, it's been in today. It's an interesting anyway. Yeah, so that is my check-in. So thank you Madeau, for that. And then for those of you who are on the Zoom we'll go down your way and then we're gonna end with Claudia. And with that really we'll go next. So I'm gonna hand that over to you.
Delesslin George-Warren: Hello everyone. My name is Delesslin George-Warren. But everyone has called me Roo, like kangaroo since I was a fetus, so feel free to call me that. I'm a citizen of Catawba Nation. We are the only federally recognized tribe in South Carolina and one of two in North Carolina. And I'm calling you from our reservation down here in South Carolina, we are, thankfully it is warm, no longer cold, which I'm very thankful for. I use he or they pronouns or really any pronouns said with love is fine by me. Like I said before, I'm on Catawba territory and forever grateful to be on my lands. I am sitting in a white room with a light to my left and a pretty flower, what is this called? Like a shade on my window. I've got on a dark green jacket kind of thing. I have white skin, light brown hair and an increasingly wild beard on my face.
How am I doing? Today I'm one of the co coordinators for Unsettling Dramaturgy along with Mia Amir who is currently holding a very cute baby. And so we are fulfilling the role of moderators today. I'm looking at like five different electronic feeds at this moment. And we're just working through some technical challenges as they arise. This whole project came together pretty rapidly. And so it's been exciting and also a little tense, intense I guess. I'm feeling like I need to breathe and just like remember where I am and remember that it's all gonna be fine. I particularly am feeling the pressure in my neck along my shoulders and then up through my jaw and right around the temples. That's where I tend to carry my tension. Access needs. All of my access needs are being met. If you ask me a direct question, it may just take a few minutes for me to address you. And that's mostly just because of the juggling of all the different technological inputs that are happening right now. I describe my work as which is a word in Catawba, which means both teacher and artist because our oldest art form pottery which we've been doing, archeologists say for 6,000 years, we would say forever. Traditionally, if you're a potter, you're also automatically an educator. So the work of education and the work of art are deeply tied in the way that I see our language and that word from our language. So that's how I think about my practice.
My background is an operatic performance. And then I transitioned into installation and performance art. And then I moved back to my community in 2017 where I've been working on language revitalization as well as food sovereignty as well as educational sovereignty and anything else that might be any needs. At the same time, I've been maintaining my artistic practice through travel, not at the moment obviously, hence why we've decided to do these practices sessions but also through digital organizing spaces. So I've been very happy to be working with Unsettling Dramaturgy for over a year now. And it's meant that this transition to digital spaces that everyone else is dealing with has been a lot gentler. The transition's been a lot gentler for me because I've already seen particularly from the Crip and Deaf practitioners in our program have already demonstrated what those practices can look like for me. What's unsettling about work we are presently with right now? I think what's unsettling to me is how I work from home almost all the time. I go out to do things, but for the most part, all my work is inside all day. But something about this moment of quarantine and physical isolation makes me feel restless even though my day to day life hasn't shifted that much. It's a little bit, it's not so much of my work, but it's just what I'm thinking about right now is how, this is the moment that I realized how dangerous living in different realities, having different facts can be truly dangerous.
I live in a place that is more conservative. And so a lot of people are getting different streams of information that I'm getting and their behaviors are different based on the information that they're getting. And so while I'm receiving information that tells me that it's really urgent, that we isolate, I'm seeing that other people are living in a completely different reality or a different perception of reality. So that's something that's unsettling me at the moment, and it just makes my whole body just like, get really tight. So that's my check-in. Who wants to go next? Anybody?
Tara: I’ll call on you if I have to.
Cindy, ASL Interpreter: The interpreter is gonna switch now, too.
Tara: Thank you.
Jill Carter: I can go, or not.
DeLesslin “Roo”: Thank you Jill.
Claudia: That would be lovely, thank you Jill.
Jill: Miigwech. Okay, so annii. Jill Carter nindizhinikaaz. My name is Jill Carter. I'm Anishinaabe and Ashkenazi woman. I'm currently based in Tkaronto, or Toronto. [With an accent] Torontah, Ontario. Toronto is a Treaty 13 territory. It's an interesting territory. Oh my pronouns. I refer to myself by feminine pronouns and I invite anybody else to address, talk about me in any way they wish. Yes. I'm based in Tkaronto. Anishinaabe, Muskogee, Anishnabeg. So my people are from North, Manitoulin Island, North of the Toronto, unseated First Nation. But I'm here, born here, raised here and working here. Toronto is a very interesting place, Tkaronto, with trees grow out of the water with the fishing weirs, have been. It is a site of trade and gathering and has been such for thousands and thousands, thousands upon thousands of years, at least 13,500 years, if not longer. It is so because of the beautiful water highways we have that take us into the beautiful Lake Ontario, Ontario, Lake Ontario. And that Lake of course can take us out to the Saint Lawrence Seaway and out into the Atlantic. So it connects people from the South, from the Gulf of Mexico, right up to the Lake of the Woods. And this place is a beautiful stopping place to gather and meet. So the fact that Toronto may be now an economic engine of the modern day place they call Canada. It was not so because some settler, some European thought, what a great place to have an economic engine. It is what they found. And so it is. Subject to fraudulent purchase. In 1787 the British apparently thought or decided or claim to have thought that they were buying the buying this territory from the Mississauga, Anishinaabe, Mississauga, Anishinaabe people for 96 gallons of rum about 200 gun flints, a bale of flannel. 24 lace hats, 124 mirrors and a little bit of money. When they looked at the deed few years later, the deed was blank. And the so-called clan signatures of the chiefs that apparently had agreed to this quote, sale, were glued on to this blank piece of paper. So in 1805, they tried it again, they threw a little more money at the Mississauga, and said, called it a deal, bought and paid for.
I bring up these things because this is the way I acknowledged the history of the territory in which I live and work. It is a living history that continues. I work on violated land, stolen lands, colonized lands. I am a person who works at the University of Toronto. And I defended my dissertation in the very house that Sir John A. Macdonald leaved in, in the year he signed the Indian Act. And it is not too much of a stretch, although this is not 100% accurate, but it's not too much of a stretch to imagine that he may have actually signed that act in that house, in one of those rooms where I defended my dissertation. So I think about the violence on Indigenous bodies as they walk by that house every day, which is now the school of graduate studies at UFT. And I think about that violence that is on. And I wonder about it. I wonder about this violence and yet I also wonder is there something empowering in having been there, in being there, in walking in, if you're a graduate student, to ask for services in finally defending your work in this place. Where history was made, where the author of the residential schools, where the author and mover and shaker of the Indiana Act that controlled our lives for so many generations. If there is not something also deeply empowering about going in and doing this and in defending our work and coming out and saying, yes, you kept us down. Yes, I tasted blood in my mouth. Like, damn you, it tastes good. This is just part of the history where I am and I think it's important to acknowledge them. And I think because I think in land acknowledgements these things need to be, if the subtler is acknowledging or the visitor is acknowledging the people who were here and the history of these lands, it's important to acknowledge that whole history and to think about, well, what is my responsibility within this story.
And how am I? I'm not dead. So this is a good thing for me. I've been ill for a while, but coming out of it, I'm a little frustrated like Roo, I think hearing very different things and not just from people necessarily, from the quote, uneducated and unwashed like myself. But from the so called experts in one morning I can hear two or three contradicting things about behaviors, about what I should be doing to protect myself. So I'm getting pretty fed up and I'm starting to run on instinct now, pray for the best, pray. And that's what I do. That's my practice, is prayer and trying to do the best work I can given the situation and hope. Access needs. All good except I may have to turn off and stand up every now and again because I'm going through a back injury too, which is old. It's not fresh, but still to keep it old, not fresh, which a fresh is painful. I will have to get up and stretch. So I said I work at the UFT, I teach but I also am a performer and a director and a dramaturg and a documenter of other people's work and process. And that's kind of what I do and I can talk more about that. I also have a guilty pleasure, which is working with first story, Tkaronto, where we research and give Indigenous history tours of the land. And that's becoming a bigger and bigger part of, also my other work. And it's about an educator and my artistic work. What's unsettling? I think I've talked a long time, which can be unsettling for anyone. So I will stop and I think I can address that elsewhere in the conversation. I will shut down now and pass it on to, I don't know, does someone want me to pass it onto them or will they volunteer? Grant Miller is volunteering.
Grant Miller: Hello. I'm Grant Miller. They, them pronouns. I am beaming in from the unseated traditional territory of the Multnomah, Clackamas, Cathlamet, Kalapuya tribes as well as many others. I'm also recognizing the presence of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde in this area. I get my water from the Bull Run Watershed and that's also Portland, Oregon. And this is where I was born and raised. Let's see. I'm also an uninvited guest ancestry. My physical description is that I am currently in, I'm in a beige room with really gray outside. So description of what you're seeing is my face floating on top of an image of the garden outside of my house. The garden's name is Lenore Evermore and I actually have a really nice view of her from where I'm sitting where it's super gray and dreary. I have black and gray hair. That's a little bit curly. I'm wearing my glasses, which are like my intellectual mask and I'm wearing a necklace made by my friend Max and which is turquoise and pink and I have a green shirt on as well. I'm white and have hazel eyes and I have hands the drape like Willow trees which may make an appearance. How I am. I have this sort of kind of like rippling electric feeling on my face, which I think is just being nervous.
So I think I'm like with just the live casting. So I'm just gonna take a couple breaths. I'm trying to remember that even though I see the front of myself on this, I also have like a whole back of my body, like the back of my head and my shoulders and like this whole space behind me. So I'm just sort of feeling that presence a little bit more, feeling kind of the pull downwards towards the earth. Feeling a lot of support from community like family who aren't here in this moment. My partner brought me some frozen food in this bowl, so I now have food, which is like meeting an access need. I think with present circumstances I'm feeling various degrees of ease and just sort of like reconnecting with my body and what I need. And also just feeling the swell of uncertainty. Sort of like I've been witness to a lot of uncertainty in my community and in my life and noticing many more people who aren't plugged into that suddenly being impacted by that. And how that affects my own nervous system. But I'm glad to be here with all of you. It's good to see you all. My access needs are met. I might just throw off my camera every once in awhile. I don't know why I thought this was only gonna be about an hour. So I think my body is just gonna wanna move around. I might play with the camera a little bit. Just as my attention needs might meet. So introduction to some of my work. I am a performance artist, theatre artist, mover. I also have a social practice work as well. My particular interests are in creating performance spaces that are about collective care which is also just reminding me that just the invitation to like move around as needed. For those who are watching. You don't have to just sit still. Well, people who are watching us aren't, we don't see them.
Questions about how any given performance opportunity or performance moment can be an opportunity to reconnect with the care of all bodies who are present. Whether those bodies are human and nonhuman. The main arc of a project that I've been working on just had sort of a sudden truncation or end because of COVID. So I'm sort of relocating what wants to happen right now. I'm currently working with the title for a virtual space called Sensational Quarantine which could be a place to kind of create some fabulosity in our own realities but also help us reconnect with mapping our senses in this space and time. Anything else? What's unsettling about work we're presently with right now? I feel like I'll say what Jill said, which is, I'll probably say more about that later. I think there's so much that's unsettling right now that I can, I feel like that can be spoken to it at greater distance. What's unsettling about in my body right now is my knee. I have the sharp knee pain that's telling me to like, I don't know, go swimming, but I don't have a pool or a nearby body of water. So I guess I'll just have to imagine that for now. I think there's a strain for me just about the need to be in relationship and dialogue now as much as any time. Thank you.
Tara: Thank you for that. And then, so Jessica, whenever you're ready.
Jessica Schacht: Hello, can everyone hear me? My name is Jessica Schacht. I use she, her pronouns. And I am currently coming to you from the traditional territory of the Cowichan Nation, part of the Hul'qumi'num Treaty Group in stage five treaty negotiations. I have dark hair, tan skin. I'm wearing a round gold frame glasses, cedar bark earrings with turquoise and white beaded moccasins that were a gift from a mentor to remind me to walk the path in a good way. I have a gray wrap on that is containing my now sleeping infant. And I'm in a room with a blue wall that you can see behind me. And how I am. I'm feeling pretty ungrounded, so I'm grateful to be here. I apologies for arriving late. I had a trouble accessing the meeting and then was responding to a screaming infant. And yeah, I'm really glad to be here and I'm feeling a little bit ungrounded and so grateful for the opportunity to think about land acknowledgement. And where I was born in the unceded territories of the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations the Lekwungen speaking peoples now known as Victoria. And thinking about the paths that my family trees have routed through from East to West and from outside of Canada to Canada as a Métis Canadian braiding together those paths. I think being so inside right now like physically because of where we are, I am feeling quite ungrounded today. Which is yeah, a little bit of an unsettling feeling. In terms of access needs. I will need to respond to my baby Lenny that's hanging out with me today.
An introduction to some aspect of our work or practice. I work primarily in theatre between theatre, opera and dance. Primarily as a dramaturg now, though I worked as a stage manager for many years. I also write and produce. But yes, recently dramaturgy has been the most the strongest aspect of my practice. I work primarily in Indigenous and new work. Looking to find new ways of telling stories, centering Indigenous ways of knowing and being able to redefine metrics of success in the work that we make so that it is true to theatremakers and is successful in the ways in which theatremakers hope that it is successful, which often doesn't look like what the product base colonial theatrical processes that we engage in are set up to enforce. What's unsettling about work presently with right now? I think a lot about aesthetics and new aesthetics and as we cover new ground that comes from ways of knowing how we can listen to those aesthetics and explore them and make work that feels, again, right for theatremakers. So what does that look like? And it can be challenging because I have the different educations that I've been given, be they from mentors and elders or my university education. So you have to work with the tools that you're given.
A lot of my work challenges a lot of the more, quote unquote, the colonial teachings of my university degree. So in challenging those aesthetics and wrestling with where we can live with them and flow with those new things. So that is something that I am grateful to have the opportunity to do and I'm just really interested in where that sits with audiences, with makers, what do we expect of our audiences and our makers as we create works in these ways. Feeling, I feel, I don't know, I feel my heart is very fluttery. Again, I think I'm also nervous and just feeling, there's, yeah, just a lot of… I've been having a lot of anxiety in general and stress from the situation that we're in. So I was always very grateful to connect across these virtual pathways with everybody here because it really is an opportunity to just be with people. Thank you. Check.
Claudia: Is Mia available to introduce themselves? If not, I can go, all right Mia, hello.
Mia Amir: I’m gonna make this super brief because I am holding my eight week old to my boob right now, and trying to keep an eye on the messages that we're receiving from those of you who are joining us. So I'm just gonna briefly dip in and then I'll dip out and be a kind of ghost that is circulating around this conversation, helping to hold it up. So my name is Mia Susan Amir. I use she and her pronouns. I am calling in from the unseated and occupied territories of the Musqueam, Squamish Tsleil-Waututh people. Colonially referred to as Vancouver, British Columbia. I was born in Israel, occupied Palestine and I came to these territories as an uninvited settler with my parents. My mother was born in 1944 in Russia as the daughter of a Russian and a Polish Jew and came as refugees to Canada to Winnipeg specifically in the 1940s. And so that's one of the lineages that kind of shapes my, the ways in which I think about land and in my relationship to land and my relationship to migration movement, freedom of movement and also the lack of freedom of movement. And on the other side of my family my grandparents were deeply involved in the colonization of Palestine and were deeply involved in the establishment of the State of Israel.
So I hold the ongoing illegal occupation of that territory as another entry point in my relationship to that place as a Jew alive and how I'm thinking about land and place and belonging and freedom of movement and genocide. Other things, physical description. My camera's tilted upwards so you see my ceiling, which is like modeled, is that the right word? And it's white. You can see part of the wall behind me, which is gray and there's some art from various places that I have relationships to. Vancouver, Oakland, Białystok Poland. My hair is very dark and short in a mess because COVID 19 has prevented me from seeing the hairdresser among other things that are much more important and pressing. I'm wearing a green headband, I'm light skinned, I have dark eyes, I have dark circles under my eyes. I'm wearing a gray sweater and a relatively sheer top, so I won't be pulling the camera down. And my access needs. I'm pulled in many directions these days and maybe this is also my check-in. As a parent of an eight week old baby most of me exists outside of me right now. So I am not so tapped into the momentary experiences that my body and my consciousness are having because I'm in a constant state of responsiveness to a small being that is wholly dependent on my wellness for their wellness. My access needs include that I am gonna be in and out of this in a visible way because I'm attending to this other life. I generally have very strong brain fog.
I'm a Crip mad artist who works across community and a creative practice. And so as somebody with chronic illness, my brain has its own unique and very special ways of operating. And that's true also today with the additional layer of exhaustion. Because again, said tiny human. So I may not finish sentences in ways that make sense to a linear way of thinking and I'll appreciate the opportunity to just finish my thoughts in my own pace and way. What else? Did I cover everything, Tara, Claudia? I'm the convener and along with Roo the co-coordinator, I'm very honored to be the convener and co-coordinator of Unsettling Dramaturgy and have this thrilling pleasure of being able to work with these brilliant minds and hearts and bodies on a regular basis. And I feel really grateful though. This moment is so rot with uncertainty and pain and the ways in which inequity falls most loudly in moments of pandemic and crisis like this. It's all very loud, but I feel very grateful that we are able to bring some of the practices that we've been leaning and learning into collectively and the practices that we bring into this work respectively to a wider relationship and network of folks who are tuning in live now. And who will tune into the recording after and just feel really grateful that we can hopefully be of service in some way in this moment and be in connection, which is paramount in times like these. Being in active relationship and connection. So yeah, thank you. And excited to moderate the online stuff that's happening. That's me, check.
Claudia: Hello, this is Claudia introducing herself, doing my check-in. My name's Claudia Alick. My change of pronouns are they, there, she, hers. You can use those interchangeably. I'm speaking to you from the Bay Area Ohlone territory. The people are still alive. My neighborhood specifically is a neighborhood where there's a lot of signage that tells the story of a Japanese resettlement. So this is a land, this is an area that tells me a story of a concentration camps and people being displaced. And of course it's also incredibly adjacent to a lot of areas where African Americans have been displaced, displaced, displaced. So this is the land on which I stand. I'm in my home, but I'm speaking to you from in front of a green screen that has a black box theatre projected behind me. I'm an African American woman with a long braids. Some of them are Black, some of them are purple. And I am wearing my most conservative dashiki today. How am I? Oh golly. Well, it's this weird thing of being like the ocean where throughout the day I'm connecting with my loving family and they are hilarious on text and they all have way too much time on their hands. So it's amazing. I am so deeply troubled by political things that I'm seeing by some real deep misinformation and the larger narratives that are about hate, disruption that are definitely being pushed and it concerns me quite deeply. And I'm just like kind of on fire 'cause I feel very busy doing many things where it's the practice of my continuing online practice as it already exists, as well as helping others to transform their practice and just be responsive to the community in the best ways. And also my body is cranky. Like all of this stress is giving my body like a lot, so I've been doing a lot more daily meditations. Just 'cause I recognize my body is probably reacting to more of this stuff that's going on in the world.
In terms of my access needs, I have a muscle disorder, so that means I'm sometimes going to pull a face like, 'cause I'm having like a horrible muscle spasm that is never a visual facial, acknowledge, I'm never making a comment, a facial comment on what someone else is saying. It's a comment on what's happening internally. I've got my water. Other than that, all my access needs are met. My work is, well, let's see. I wrote this down in a piece of paper. Currently, this is what I'm working on. I am helping, I'm the guest director for the FoolsFURY Factory Festival in July. So I am a co president of the board of the Network of Ensemble Theatre. I'm an advisor to HowlRound. I am an advisor for the National Theatre Project with NAFA, the New England Foundation for the Arts. I'm an advisor for the National Disabled Theatre. I am commissioning plays all over the country with the Doris Duke Foundation. And I am the executive producer of CALLING UP justice, a trans media social justice company, producing performances of justice online, onstage and in real life. And we run on a model of radical generosity. So I have been giving 30 minutes free consults to anyone who wants them. And those conversations have been incredibly learning for me and also folks who've been getting good stuff out of them. So that's just been beautiful and gorgeous. And the last place I'm affiliated to is with Unsettling Dramaturgy. An amazing group of international Crip and Indigenous dramaturgs and thought leaders. And it's such a pleasure to be meeting with you right now. And of course the thing that's unsettling about this work is I think things we've already spoken about. So I'm going to ask my colleagues for a little help. Is it time for us to take a break?
Tara: I was going to say, yes it is.
Claudia: I love this. So we have beautifully modeled what our practice is. So you, the viewers have witnessed a number of land acknowledgements done from a lot of different places, right? Well, we haven't even gotten into the formal juicy conversation. There's a reason why our Unsettling Dramaturgy meetings are three hours long. It's so we can indulge in such healthy nutritious practice. It is an honor working with you. Thank you for beginning us well. Let's take a break and then come back and have a conversation. What's y'all think? Yeah.
Mia: When are we coming back, Claudia?
Claudia: 10 minutes.
Tara: So we will be coming back the seven minutes after the hour from wherever you're at. So time zone math, seven minutes after your hour we will be back.
Tara: For those of you who are still here, we will be back in two minutes and just two minutes we'll be back in our riveting discussion.
Tara: Everyone, we are back. It is seven minutes after our perspective hours. And so with that, I'm gonna throw this back over to Claudia as we jump into our discussion. So we have a few questions that we have written out that we'll discuss amongst ourselves, but then also we will be accepting questions from all of you on those various platforms and ways you can send them in. So without further ado, Claudia. Whenever you're ready.
Claudia: Thank you Tara. So because today's event is on the land acknowledgement, specifically land acknowledgement in digital spaces, we find it important to recognize that we are using the technology of Zoom to have this conversation. Zoom is headquartered in what is now called San Jose, California, which are the traditional lands of the Ohlone who I've already spoken up and the Tamyen in peoples. We've been asking ourselves questions like what is the physical reality and impact of this ethereal technology? How do we recognize the lands and peoples that Zoom specifically impacts in its infrastructure? And then kind of coming out, how do we recognize and acknowledge the global lands that the intranet and its infrastructure impacts? How do we recognize that acknowledgement? I acknowledge that in our conversations, but we wanted to take a moment and do a land acknowledgement specifically for the technology we are using to connect. Thank you for taking that moment with us. Then pass this microphone back to Tara to get our conversation started.
Tara: All right, so with our conversation the first thing that we're going to kick off with is what is a land acknowledgement in the space of digital, cultural, cyber world space and how happy we in working with them. And so to give you all a moment, just our wonderful participants who are on a call with us today to percolate some thoughts. For those of you who are viewing at home, we just gave, as Claudia mentioned, as you just witnessed, what we do in our practice of doing our individual acknowledgements as well as today, acknowledging we are using those headquarter. And so that's one way of a myriad of ways, but getting to the root of that biscuit. So we say where I'm from, what does that mean? How do we work within them? And so this is gonna be a pretty casual sort of discussion. And so for anyone who feels so inclined has thought, the precept, anything like that just spark it off. I'll have you open up. Feel free to unmute your mic whenever you would like to raise some speak, not raise your hand, I means that's fancy. And then we'll go from there. So does anyone have some immediate thoughts for our viewers at home? Who should be at home anyway?
Claudia: I’m a narrator so I don't, I'm facilitating so I don't feel like I should be adding a lot of stuff, but I have a thing. May I add it? Just as part of my ongoing habits of Zoom conversations, I renamed myself and I always rename myself, I add my gender pronouns. I don't know if that's visible to y'all, but on my label, on my face, I have my gender pronouns and I have my land acknowledgement. It reminds me of the spaces that you signage as land acknowledgement. And I love spaces that have that, just like literally just like a cool sign with information on it. Check.
Tara: I’m also curious for any of our, I'm sampling collaborators on the call right now who do a lot of digital work. We were talking about our last phone call last week, how for so many folks, this is just, y'all is normal and now everyone else is getting on that same bandwagon. Anyway. What are ways, if there are any different or even just to echo as like, yeah, that's what I do to acknowledge this space that you're in digitally. I just wonder if any of our more seasoned digital folks have any additional thoughts on that. And also since we are very casual, I will say you don't have to answer right away as we go along. As all those things are, you'll bring it that later, just peep up. By all means. But yeah, just another question to percolate on if anyone has it.
DeLesslin “Roo”: I don't feel like I can address that question, so I'll leave that percolating on a different burner. What I've been thinking about is we spoke about this kind of early on in our meetings, which was this question about bringing together Crip dramaturgs and Indigenous dramaturgs and talking about, I mean, we said it at the beginning the language that we kind of developed from those discussions that we're not collapsing those things together. And I believe I shared with the group kind of early on a traditional Catawba diplomacy of camping out near one another. And in camping out in proximity to one another, developing relationship prior to negotiations actually happening. So there were bunch of protocols regarding eating with one another, hearing about each other's stories and all of that being requisite before we can actually get to the task at hand as it were. And so what this process has brought up for me is how it might be easy to say that in the past land has been a requisite part of us coming together. That may be, it's one of the people that are in that diplomatic process. It's one of the persons that's in that diplomatic process.
But now that we have technology, it's not, but as we discussed with that Zoom recognition, we think of the internet as being a theorial. And I think that a lot of businesses are invested in us thinking about it that way. I mean, what is the biggest buzzword of the internet age the last seven years, but the Cloud, right? This idea that it's somewhere up there and that it doesn't have effects on the lands and the waters. In preparing for this, I was doing some research on pipelines that go through oceans that carry the literal fibers of the internet. And like if you look at the so called United States and Canada, there's specific places where those pipelines touchdown on land and from there presumably proliferate. So in one way it's different because we aren't all gathering in a single land, but in another way, we're all gathering on lands across the world because the way that this distributed internet system works is that while we, none of us might be in so-called China, there may be servers that are carrying data from our conversation through that landscape. And then back to the places that we are inhabiting. So it's not just some thoughts that I've been having. Thinking about how is the land still a diplomat in our conversations, even if it's not a singular landscape that we're gathering upon to have these conversations. Check.
Claudia: This is Claudia speaking. Thank you so much for that. You just gave me a light bulb moment of me realizing my stuff isn't in a Cloud. My information is stored in wires and metal boxes that are places. I'm thinking about that hard right now. Thank you for that. Check.
Tara: Thank you for that Roo. This is Tara. And it also makes me think about the questions that we have like listed in our lovely GoogleDoc. You at home cannot see. But the next one that we have coming up is how do you let acknowledgements helps to center the body, place and land as collaborators in creation. And why such, how is this important when we are collaborating on what can be a profoundly disembodied medium? I thought that was your reflections on that, on how there is no Cloud, no ether, it is connected to a place is a great segue into that question. And also more things to percolate on is how else can we use land acknowledgements to help center, body, place and land, especially whenever we are creating and interfacing digitally. And to not forget that we may be sitting in our apartments, on our computers, but those apartments are on certain lands. Those computers come from best buys that are on certain lands et cetera, et cetera. Yeah, so that's just really interesting. Just another thought that I had there. And so speaking of popcorn thoughts also lean this over for anyone else who has another popcorn thought they would like to give. check.
Jill: It’s Jill here. And I think that, thank you Roo for, and Claudia both for centering us in place, even though we're in cyberspace. I think a lot about responsibility here in terms of, and you mention this too Tara that, not only are we on lands and have, speaking from specific land basis and territories, but these machines through which we're talking to each other and these pipes that are these pipelines and boxes that are carrying our thoughts and ideas, and work and images, and art, and conversations, these are all made of elements of the earth. And at points we, there may be abuse. Well, I say may and I am really understating, there is abuse of the earth in the creation of these technologies.
We know now that our seedbeds, our ocean floors are being depleted of their sand, the sand that it takes to make the glass on these screens, on our phone screens on our tablets screens. We know that poisonous elements are required to make these computers. And whether I'm terribly untactical it's horrible. I have a pretty box with the glass screen and I see you all. So my language, I don't have the language for this, but the mining and the digging and the, of grabbing these things, not only poisoned people in communities, poisons the water and it poisons the earth itself. But after it's made and then disposed stuff, more poison seeps out. So we're depleting these resources. And I guess all I'm saying is I don't know how to go around it. Somehow we're all behold into this. We've all become tied to this in ways. And it's very good for many people. For many people with differing abilities, this has given them a window out into the world that gives us abilities to communicate in times like this. And I think about too. I don't claim any great wisdom, but I just think that responsibility, using these things responsibly very carefully, when we took a deer, and I was gonna say Anishinaabe, but lots of people have taken deer. So I won't get, I'll try not to get too Anishinaabeon centric on. But if I do, well, forgive me and just give me a virtual punch in the nose. Say, wake up, Jill. There's other of us we also have deer. But you know, when we took a deer, we didn't not take the deer, but we respected the deer and we used everything in a really good way and we wasted nothing.
We didn't abuse this gift because this was life. This was blood in our hands. And this, as I look at my thing in front of you. There is blood, there is blood on this machine and therefore on my hands. I hope that there are those out there and I wish that I were one and I can't claim to be one who's thinking how to make this in a bloodless way. I hope that there are, I will encourage those that there are technical people who can, but then while we must use it or are using it in our art, in our conversations, then it must be. I hope that we use it for the good. We use it sparingly. We spare the machine, we hold onto it for years and years and years. And we put forth our very best with it. And respect the blood that has been shed here. So I think about cyberspace and the cowboys that may be out there, again, disrespecting, riding rampant through cyberspace bullying, abusing, trolling what have you, taking up these spaces using this to hurt people. Oh, I should shut up now because we've got an upcoming question. Many upcoming questions, but that was just, that was supposed to be a popcorn thought. It's not steak dinner. So I'll come back, but I'll just mute me for a minute so we can.
Claudia: I love this brilliant, amazing cohort of folks where somebody drops like a gigantic amount of poetic and brilliant science on all of us and is like, "Oh, I should make more space for other people to speak." Just thank you. Thank you. So we've got some amazing collaborators who have crafted these questions in beautiful, provocative ways. Tara, would you be kind enough to read this? I think the way the question has been asked is incredibly brilliant. Would you be willing just to read the question?
Tara: Yes, the one if we're vibing or the most recent one?
Claudia: Either, they're both amazing.
Tara: Great. It's really sad for you folks at home who can't see our chat box. It's really great. We had a crumpet situation. It was wonderful. Wonderful, great. So thank you Jill for all of that insight. And so I'm actually gonna go to that second upcoming question in there first. And that is how do we address that we are all working in place off and on land that is undergoing ongoing projects of colonization with direct violence impact to Indigenous communities and artists, and that we often do are so supported by the government institutions or foundations engaged in maintaining and benefiting from the colonial project. How do we address from the colonial project? How do we address the critical questions around responsibility in relationship to advocacy, resource distribution, leadership and representation at all levels of creation and production and attention to protocols within our work. Dramatic reading. Anyway. And so again, these are questions that we shouldn't think about now that are on these digital spaces, in how the ongoing projects of colonization, how those direct impacts to frontline communities, but also if and, or when hopefully when, we come out of this and move back into our physical theatrical spaces, how do we continue to reconcile and live within there and create just work, while centering those who are on the frontline and who are experiencing these ongoing violence in their communities.
And then with that, another question, we're just gonna throw questions on there and just whoever's inspired. How do land acknowledgements challenge the empty vessel approaches to organizing collaboration and creation, which require that we leave our identities, embodiments and histories at the door of the studio or the stage or on our desktops in this case, and lead to practices which center relationship, collective care, self-determination and vulnerability, interdependence, responsibility, reciprocity. I got all the words with lots of syllables, adaptability, consent, celebration, emergence and spiritual and cultural practice as core principles of creative practice. Which I say, something I think that unsettling does really well. And how we're able to have all of these different embodiments and different backgrounds and all of these things while still working together and not leaving our histories at the door. And Jessica is piping up, I see. Jessica, whenever you're ready. Check.
Jessica: Was it that obvious? I feel like, yes. Thank you for the wonderful phrasing of these. And what's striking me is how these questions actually work in relationship to each other. So in terms of addressing that we're working in place off and on land that's undergoing ongoing projects of Colonial colonization. I think that, like I offer that previous answer as part of, or that previous question as part of the answer. Very dramaturgy of me. But challenging that empty vessel approach because in doing a land acknowledgement, in acknowledging all the various land that we all come from, that presence is our personal stories, where we are in space, the history that is attached to that place. And so by challenging that empty vessel mentality of that, we are here, we are people on a Zoom call and we're here to do, discuss X, Y, Z. We are people coming from places all across Turtle Island and with specific histories and access needs and so by acknowledging that we are not empty vessels. Acknowledging the land that we are on, that we come from. I think that in part search to address some of those challenges within the colonized spaces that we work within. Check.
DeLesslin “Roo”: This is Roo. I'm gonna jump back in and say, particularly vibing off of what Claudia and Jill were talking about before. I mean, again, I do think it's so much in the way that we talk about digital technologies as being spaces without place in a very similar way that we've talked about theatres as being spaces without places. As if like, just like a vacuum opened up in the midst of a landscape and suddenly there was a place that we could do theatre at. And and I think that that's the same way that we talk about our digital technologies. Like I mentioned the Cloud before. I mean, we've also talked about cyberspace. Like there's so many ways that our language tries to get to invest in the idea that it is existing out there somewhere. But in reality, it's existing down here. I wanna read this quote from Fortune Magazine is what it's called, which seems questionable. I think it does a really good job of kind of illustrating that exactly what Jill was saying, the literal like physical object that we use to connect to that cyberspace, to connect that Cloud that is in fact a giant warehouse of very hot servers and computers that are holding our information and serving it to each other. Those technologies also require a lot of energy.
So the first two paragraphs of this article, the music video for “Despacito” set an internet record in April, 2018 when it became the first video to hit 5 billion views on YouTube. In the process, the music video reached a less celebrated milestone. It burned as much energy as 40,000 U.S homes use in a year. And it goes on to talk a little bit more about how that works with data centers. But I'm thinking right now, like we see land and water protectors in places, like Wet'suwet'en, we saw the Dakota Access Pipeline protectors. We see people around the world opposing these energy infrastructure projects while at the same time, one of our most versatile and useful contemporary organizing avenues is in the digital space, right. And we think of any individual action on the internet as being mostly in consequential, but as kind of that paragraph demonstrate, like every time we watch a video, every time we send a Google search, every time we send a tweet, and I've been completely living on Twitter the last like two weeks of quarantine. There is a cost to that or there is a responsibility to that 'cause let's get down to the capitalist framework. We definitely take deer down here as well. But it's okay. Get Anishinaabe as you want. I'll be as Catawba as I want.
And I think that what's so different, like I'm working on our educational curriculum right now and one of our like areas that we talk about for our tribe is technology. And when I first presented that people were like, you mean like computers? Is that part of our cultural tradition? And I said, well, I think it could be, but I think what I'm talking about is like pottery and basketry and how to take a deer in a good way and how to use what is being given to us and what all of our traditional technologies have in common is that in the taking, there is also like a reciprocity that either needs to come at that moment or at some point in the future. But the reality is that our technologies like landfills are filled with cell phones and those cell phones often have incredibly rare metals in them. Through violence were ripped from the earth, not just violence to the earth, but also violence to the people who were forced to labor. We're taking but we're never giving back. That's unsustainable. Just we only have like 15,000 years of experience, but I feel pretty confident in saying that it's pretty unsustainable. Check.
Claudia: This is Claudia. I've been thinking really hard about how sometimes, and I say this with loving acknowledgement. Some of our organizations do a land acknowledgement like it's a bandaid or a prophylactic. Like if they do that at the top, it means nothing else in the event needs to have respect or thoughtful. And it's just like, "Oh, we said those magic words "and now we can do whatever we want to do." But actually what if a land acknowledgement is done right? It serves as sort of a highlight. And I wanted to share the most fire lane. It's my favorite one. It's so fire. I learned this land acknowledgement at the CUNY, Racial Justice and Performance Conference in 2019 and it was scripted by age, Herukhuti Sharif Williams, who was a professor there. We acknowledged that settler colonizers and imperialists from Europe took and unseated the land on which we gather and work, from the Lenape and Wappino peoples who had stewarded it for generations. The land has been and continues to be occupied and held by force. We acknowledged that we are contributing to that legacy now, we recognize Lenape and Wappino people as the rightful protectors of this land and ask for their mercy when the future accounting for our presence on it has been conducted. We acknowledged that settler, colonizers and slavers from Europe, you stole and enforced the labor of African people to subsequently develop the land. We acknowledge the lives of the 20,000 free and enslaved Africans were buried in the middle 1630s and 1795 on the 6.6 acres of land that we call the African Burial Ground. Some three miles away from here in Lower Manhattan. We acknowledge the lives of the more than 250 of the Seneca Village founded by free and formerly enslaved African people on the parcels of land between 83rd and 88th Streets and between Seventh and Eighth Avenues starting in 1825 until the government evicted them to build central park in the mid 1,800s. We honor the lives of all who endured and continue to endure in the face of settler colonial oppression and white supremacy. I love this land acknowledgement because a dramaturg wrote it. It's got so much beautiful historical detail in there. I feel like I truly learned and understood the significance of where I was in that moment, but the exercise of making it feels almost more important than the exercise of speaking it aloud. Check.
Tara: Claudia, we have requests for that to be shared. And so if you have that text of somewhere, could you send it to perhaps Roo or Mia.
Claudia: Already dropped it into the Twitter.
Tara: Oh, lovely. Did you put it in the Facebook comments? Thank you.
DeLesslin “Roo”: Yeah, I got it.
Tara: Amazing. We're so efficient. Yeah, exactly. I mean, land acknowledgement does not, and should not be like, bland OneNote, unaccounted for, pieces of colonial language words. And then we call it a day. So thank you so much for sharing that. It makes me wonder, too, about what are more, quote unquote, radical that should be quote unquote normal, ways that we could continue to acknowledge these project products of colonization, continued attacks on to land and community. Well, still continuing to challenge the empty vessel notion. I mean it's all deeply, deeply interrelated. So looking at our questions here. While I'm looking at those, was anyone feeling so inspired? Have anything else to add in there?
DeLesslin “Roo”: Mia did you have something?
Mia: I have emergent thoughts that may not be performed with any clarity but. So we're all looking at each other through this Zoom screen, which gives us boxes of equal shape and size. And what I am thinking about is the way in which the internet as a medium can serve to try to reduce our experiences as though they are equal and equitable. And that when we are coming together in these forums that present a fallacy of equity. One of the ways in which we undermine that as Claudia so beautifully shared through sharing that land acknowledgement is that there is an immensity of complexity and specificity that shapes who we are, wherever we are located and specificity that shapes where we are located and the conditions under which the society we participate in or benefit from or are impacted by is operating in and on and around us and in and on and around our work, and in and on and around the ecology of the place where we are, and in and on and around the relationships we're able to build and how and in and on and around how we participate in economy, et cetera, et cetera.
In the fallacy of equity that can be presented through this medium, I think it behooves as we have a deep responsibility to think about all of these things that shape how is it that we are coming together, things that have already been spoken today. And that this is one of the reasons why engaging in a land acknowledgement is so vital because it also for me as a settler, as an uninvited settler, as somebody who has histories of genocide that shaped the bodies of the people and the cultures and the societies of people from whom I come and relationships of displacement, but then choice for movement. For me to then have to think about all of that, my own arrival to here, to where I am right now and to narrate that as one of the, maybe most superficial but very important still acts of responsibility that I attempt to take and make in my work here. It feels really important as a process of dismantling this fallacy of equity that these boxes present to us in. I think that's my current thought. Yeah. And just the danger, the danger that this medium presents in shaping at least an ocular, an ocular perception of the world. This is not an accurate ocular organization of power, of the realities of power that even exist inside of the many of us that are gathered here on the Zoom talking to each other with each other, right. And so like, how we take that apart and how we then find our way to each other and to other ways of being together. This is one of the reasons why land acknowledgements through this medium is so important. That mend end, my end of my mind, my end of my thought.
Jill: I have a very, I'll call it a fetal thought, a baby thought. And I've been thinking about this for awhile, interestingly here, in Tkaronto, in the last, well since before the virus, but I would say in the last eight months before everything shut down, many of the Indigenous plays I saw up here no longer had a land acknowledgement. In play I directed, we didn't do a land acknowledgement because the play was a land acknowledgement. Because the play, because everything we were doing was, well that was just my piece. But I'm finding that in other pieces, even more personal. The land is pulled up and becomes part of it. So that's a very interesting thing for me to think of. Now I'm thinking, and I just had, I was thinking what would I do if I was touring this. And now I'm presenting this. But I think we could. It's another way of working where, and I mean, it's a land and people acknowledgement. It's an acknowledgement of all of it. The stories that we're telling, it's. So that's very interesting. So now I'm almost shocked. I'm not shocked when I see settlers doing it. And often some of them are better than others.
I find the young do some really beautiful work 'cause they're getting it, some of them, really, really moving land acknowledgements but also not just moving but active. In other words it is accompanied even if they're doing a show, it is accompanied with auction, a collection, a call to donate to something, a collection for that or a call to go in and support those other theatre down the street, which is Indigenous. Or they're trying, and I see a lot of these kids who are doing their shows and doing their land acknowledgements. And then I see them three days later at, gathering to support what's in, and this is again, before before the end of the world began, no, I'm kidding. Don't be anxious. We have to laugh. But it was before everything shut down. But I see them. So their work then, as they move and develop, their work is going to become more and more invested with this. It's going to become more and more bone deep. The relationships they build I think will become more and more bone deep. As are these in their artistry and as humans. So it's just at least a hopeful thought I'm having, but an interesting thought about how can our work, it's not just talking about, well, yes, I live here and this is what the colonial projects done. And I acknowledge all this now. Tara was it you saying this, onto the the work. I've said that or was it you, me, I can't remember. But that the work itself is the acknowledgement that Claudia read, even when it's very personal. I'll shut up now, sorry.
Claudia: May I ask a—yeah, everyone's like, don't shut up. Everything you say is gold. Come on. Again, I just have to say, you're a beautiful group of human beings and I love all of your brains. Thank you for allowing us to experience some of them. I have a really basic question. It's so basic. How often, when should you do land acknowledgement? Should you do them for every single meeting? Should you only do them for like the big things that have a large audience like, that is what was just sparked by your acknowledgement that you didn't do one for a cultural production that already had that content embedded in the heat or the meat of the event. So I opened that question to all of my colleagues. I'm curious what y'all think. Check.
Tara: This is Tara. If I may pop on in. So two things. So for me personally, and this is my own individual opinion as an Oklahoma, Seminole and Muskogee woman, on my own thoughts. I think for settler organizations, organizations that are ran by settler folks that operate within settler colonialism, I personally feel is that land acknowledgements need to be normalized in every single thing that you do, you get so sick of it, you won't be memorized. Hooray. But that's not where it ends. I mean where it never ends, it's that it's an ongoing relationship with those people who you are acknowledging, with those people whose lands you reside on, who have history on those lands which you create on because in case there's any confusion, those people aren't still there, living, breathing, working, creating and stewarding that land. And so it needs to be fully embedded within every single practice. And so that's that. But also with part two is a reflection on Jill, what you just said, about going to like these Indigenous works that don't have land acknowledgements.
And it got me thinking about my own practice. And whenever I personally do work within Seminole Nation, Muskogee Nation, Osage Nation, Cherokee Nation, we're all very close here in Oklahoma. We don't do that acknowledgement because again, we know where we are and that is within the work that we're doing because you are creating within community. Now, whenever I take those same works and I present them to non-native audiences or we go into settler institutions, we do that land acknowledgement work. But again, it goes on to who is your audience, who are you creating this for? With and with and by. And if it's deeply embedded within community, like the right now reason for me to stand up to my elders in Muskogee Nation and be like, "Hello, we are on the lands of the Seminole people." Like, "No we know." Like there's no need. But so that's something to think about for those of you who are tuning in and also for those of us here who work within settler organizations, institutions, how those traveling works, where are we, what is the relation to those? And also when it comes to traveling works, whenever I do work that's very Seminole based in Oklahoma, Seminole Nation and I take it over to Creek Nation. And also we thank those folks from Muskogee Creek Nation for inviting us in to present this work.
So again, a little different from a land acknowledgement more as a celebration of thanks to being community with one another. But again, that's never we're working outside of that settler colonialism structure. Which I also imagine for most folks is not the regular. But hopefully one day it will be. But yes, I bring dumb thoughts over here. I'll also be curious to know what other people's thoughts are about how often when you should do them. Again, I'm over here, my little radical trains and all of the damn time every day. But yeah, for the rest of y'all, I would love to know. Check.
Jessica: This is Jessica. I agree with Tara. I think they should be done. And thinking of that, what Roo was talking about earlier in protocol and ceremony, those things don't just exist within Indigenous cultures. When we go to the theatre that is a type of ceremony, whether it's like settler or not. So anytime we're thinking about these ceremonial or ritualistic gatherings, I think it's important to have those acknowledgements. And then also riffing off of what Jill was saying, that reminds me of the process of Kamloopa by Kim Senklip Harvey. I was part of the fire team for that. And we were gifted a welcome song by the Shawnee people that we did as part of the welcome. I'm trying to remember like, I don't know if in Tacoma, we did a specific land acknowledgement, but more of, if we tailored it to each place we were. So we were thanking the Shawnee people. This is Kim's home territory and so adapting it to each process in the way that, as we moved territory on tour. And then that also makes me think like of, how important it is to tailor land acknowledgements for the situation. And so in our part we had three Indigenous women portraying self women who were not self. And so that was part of the acknowledgement. And the welcome song acknowledging that was gifted to us as we took it onto different territories. Taking the time to craft that as part to embed it in the work.
Like Jill was saying so that part of that artistic ceremony, that was part of how we opened. That artistic ceremony was acknowledging the land, thanking the people and that was embedded as part of the show. That it was not separate from the actors who were on stage with the audience as they were coming in because it was important to us that there would not be a distinction between like, now the show is starting, it was like this is all part, this is the whole thing. This is part of the show, the show. This is part of the artistic ceremony that we are creating to engage with people. Check.
DeLesslin “Roo”: From my perspective, I think y'all are absolutely right. Like, let's do it all the time. Let's let it become part of the fabric of who we are. Like I think about in my language when I introduced myself, I don't do a land acknowledgement. I do land gratitude. So like if I was doing my introduction in my language, I would say hello. And so giving gratitude to Catawba lands and then giving gratitude specifically to green earth lands. So that brings up a second point for me, which is so often I see land acknowledgements kind of reiterating the idea of territory and border, like gratitude to the Indigenous people or recognition of Indigenous people of this land and then listing off a list. And oftentimes, particularly in institutions, I see this as kind of a settler move to innocence of kind of erasing the specificity of that history of that land and the history of that institution on that land. Like I thought that Jill did a really great job of giving the history of the lands that she is calling from. And the specific house even that she's working in.
And it makes me think about like even in my introduction, I just said I'm on the Catawba reservation, which has so much more complexity to it than my statement would tell you. Like for example, I am on the Catawba reservation, but I'm on the green earth portion of the reservation, which was, we had administrative control over until 1840 when South Carolina made an illegal treaty with us. And we lost control of that land until the 1940s when we regained control of it. And then we lost control of it again in 1959 and then we regained control of it in 1993. So it's so often that we want to lean towards the vagaries of the landscape without looking at the specificities. I'm also thinking about my Alma Mater, Vanderbilt University. And in the times that they did do land acknowledgements, it was again, very like we recognize the Indigenous communities of this land, the Muskogee, Creek, the Shawnee, the Cherokee, but not recognizing the fact that just across the street was a park and that park had been given to this woman. Her last name was Donaldson, who was the sister-in-law to Andrew Jackson. And she had received that land because she and some other women at this fort that was built illegally on Shawnee land, had poured boiling water over the side to try and get some, quote unquote restless Indians from stopping to attack their fort.
And so they're not recognizing the specific ways in which their institution has benefited from those histories and instead talking about this general, this generalized way. And so I think as specific as we can be, because the landscape like the land, the literal spot that I'm on is on a hill. But if I walk down the street, like just 50 feet into the woods, I'm at our river bank. And the story of our river is one of being polluted by industry. And so the story of this spot is a little bit different than the story of that spot. And we have to recognize our relations and our, the unique fabric, the unique web of every single place that we're living in. So, I don't know, that was a little rambly, but check.
Tara: This is Tara. I just wanna piggyback real quick and then I'll be done. But also thinking about how interconnected all of these different spots are. And so like where I currently am is in this inner section of Muskogee Creek Nation, Osage Nation, Cherokee Nation. But I'm also only 10 miles away. And for y'all who ain't out here in Oklahoma in the South, 10 miles is like two minutes. So very close. It's not like city 10 miles. Anyway, is the site of the burning of Black Wall Street and the very large massacre that killed thousands of Black folk in Tulsa. And so having to acknowledge that although I am 10 miles away from where that was and where that happened, to think that the land that I currently reside on did not benefit from that event is negligible. Because it did. And so again, thinking about the interconnectedness of where we are in our space, so it's not just where we create, but even in our own homes right now and we do the digital land acknowledgements to consider everywhere. Again, now I'm getting to the mother land. Anyway, to consider those interconnectedness is so to say. Check.
Claudia: This is Claudia. I'm thinking about, first I'm thinking about how I only in the last couple of weeks because of the increased number of digital meetings, I have begun embedding a land acknowledgement in my introductions reflexively, as well as a gender pronoun introduction reflexively as well as an access check end reflexively. And that's because the folks who were designing the meetings are not designing them with me in mind or with my values in mind. And I figure, well, I can just live my values and model them for the folks who are inside that meeting. But I'm deeply interested in not only how me acknowledging where I am is going to impact the narratives and stories people are telling themselves where they're located, but how their stories can impact me. And I'm just, I'm so curious about how we can help spread this practice even more, but we should keep having our beautiful more intellectual, deep, heady conversations. They are so juicy and delicious. I think we have time for like one more large idea and then we should probably take another break my colleagues.
Grant: This is Grant. Can I just like pull on a little thread that you started and then we'll see kind of what fractals open from there. Claudia about land acknowledgment, access check-in, pronoun check-in. Somebody said the phrase earlier, spaces without place. And I was reminded of the sense of like bodies without place. And how that's an expectation of the colonialist project, is to really strip people of the place that their body exists in and to weave it into the mythology of the empire. These practices that we've been doing of land acknowledgement and access check in to me feel like a practice of becoming present with what is and using that as a basis, as a foundation for the relationships that we build. And like going back to this, well actually, no, I'm gonna continue to follow this a different way. So right now I'm looking out at a fig tree outside my window, and that fig tree is about 60 years old and it was planted by an Italian family whose name I don't know. In a neighborhood that used to be entirely in Italian families within several blocks around Maine. Those families were gentrified about 50 or 60 years ago. And my neighbor across the street still remembers some of those families or the kids of those families. And part of the reason that I named that is because the displacement of those families is a continuation of the legacy of gentrification, which in Portland for example, Portland had one of the largest native populations as of about 10 years ago in a city.
I think it was, I don't know what the percentages are, but a friend of mine whose family who grew up in this area who's native said that that number has gone down so sharply with the price increases in Portland. And that these ways of just giving place, of looking at the stories of the land that are in our immediate surroundings interweave with these larger legacies of colonization, these larger legacies of trying to erase what the reality of our bodies in this place mean. I guess that we're gonna talk more about Crip practices at one of these other convenings. But I'll say that as a part of my organizing, as an uninvited settler who's disabled. Land acknowledgement feels really important for both public and private events. Small organizing and large organizing. And a priority in the way that access check-ins are a priority. It's a way of coming into the present moment of where we are and then using that as a basis for deciding what we're going to do with our bodies, what we're going to do with our time. Which is why it's such a disruption when these institutions do a land acknowledgement and then go right back into the story of Lewis and Clark or whatever. And so yeah, I guess that I'm also wanting to be really mindful as a white settler in this conversation to yield the space. But I've really, really just wanted to give some of the response to what you specifically just pulled in Claudia, 'cause it feels so important that these protocols are a method of coming into the present and building relational foundations. Even if these institutions aren't implementing them, we're implementing them.
Claudia: I love giving us a moment in case there's someone who wants to piggyback on that brilliance. We might want to take the next 10 minutes to ruminate on it and then rejoin this conversation after taking a bio break to replenish our human bodies and come back to the rest of this conversation. Does that sound good my colleagues? I see heads nodding. Brilliant. Thank you so much. We are going to now enter our second and last 10 minute break and then you will return to continue our conversation.
Mia: Could I offer one thing before we go?
Claudia: Yes, please.
Mia: Just to the folks who are watching at home from wherever you are. In this last hour, I know that we are really eager to hear from you, your comments, your questions. And so there are three different ways to get a hold of us that have been posted. I think on all of the places where this video is currently streaming live. So that's by email at [email protected]. You can also comment on the Facebook live video stream. You can leave a comment or question publicly there. And the last is by texting Roo on WhatsApp. And his number is…
DeLesslin “Roo”: Eight, zero, three, three, two, three, seven, six, three, eight. And that's United States numbers. So I don't know if that's relevant to WhatsApp, but like do what you will with that information. So can we just round up and say we'll come back at 15 after the hour. Awesome. All right, we’ll see you all soon.
Tara: So you have two minutes, everyone who are on break. Two more minutes.
Tara: We are back everyone. We wanna start slowly but surely making your way back to our digital convenience space, which as we discussed is not just digital. Welcome back everyone. I hope you had a very energizing and restful break for those who needed it, to the stretch for those who needed it. And percolated, that is the word of the day or marinated on any of the things we've spoken about. Yeah, so I think for this last section of our time together we'll use that for any resonant thoughts or new thoughts that came from our prior discussions and as well as look to all of you who are tuning in at home and other places who may have sent in thoughts, comments, questions, concerns, any of those. Through the Facebook, WhatsApp or email. And also in regards to access needs my report partner's scheduled a to be delivered right now. So I'm gonna get those.
Claudia: Hello, this is Claudia willing to come back, although here am I, what's going on? I can't see myself and I don't know why. Maybe I just need to hit this button. There I am. Hey. So I just wanna do a shout out to our live captioner I visited, as we've been having our conversation, I've been going from viewpoint to viewpoint, checking out what we look like on Facebook Live as well as visiting the conversation on HowlRound, on the HowlRound page. I'm just seeing the language happening in real time. Thank you so much for helping make this conversation totally accessible. Loved witnessing the words happening in real time. Very impressed. And of course, big shout outs to both Cindy and Gillian who have been doing ASL interpretation. You'll so good. Just snap, snap, snap to you. Preparing for our conversation. However, land acknowledgements in a digital space. Grant had just shared some beautiful big heady ideas around how we're sort of breaking, I wrote down some of the stuff that you said 'cause I liked it so much. And I just wanna do a shout out for whoever's instinct it was to approach these conversations with a dual Crip and Indigenous viewpoint because it feels like having a blended modality is what's making, at least personally for my own practice, it makes it a little more effective. So I appreciate that.
DeLesslin “Roo”: This is Roo. Sorry, going off of what Grant was saying, I'm thinking also about right now there was just an announcement that Michigan announced that they would be turning back on water for folks whose water had been turned off in Detroit, I think specifically. And that made me start thinking about, and that's because of the pandemic that's happening. But it also made me think about Flint and how Flint, Michigan continues, as well as many Indigenous communities, continue to not have clean drinking water. And what Grant was talking about the specificity of the land that we come from, like our bodies are literally constituted by the lands that were coming from and by the lands that our foods are coming from. And so when we talk about our land acknowledgements, particularly when we talk about where we're coming from, someone from, for example, Flint recognizing where they're coming from, recognizing the ways that their bodies may have been poisoned by the criminal negligence of folks who'd been entrusted with that responsibility of ensuring clean water for their community.
And so in that way, land and body, land and access, land and ability are intimately tied. And then going back to a conversation we had had before, when we were talking about the way that these digital technologies exist in the physical realm. We talked about all the ways that's kind of hidden by the language that we use around the internet. But I'm wondering how we might kind of flip that script and use the fact that this image of myself, the words that I'm saying are traversing thousands of miles across thousands of landscapes. In a split second how that might actually bring us to start thinking again about what Tara had said earlier about how all of these lands are connected. Like the actions that I take here on Catawba land, whether that's driving my car somewhere, whether that's taking a flight to somewhere have a profound effect for all of the landscapes around the world. So how can we disrupt the language that's used in digital spaces to hide the real impact on the land and flip it towards thinking about how this actually is interconnecting us even more or dramatize in the way that we're interconnected.
Claudia: This is Claudia. I wanna do a quick shout out for a practice that I learned from Annalisa Dias of many different organizations, but I'm just gonna name Groundwater Arts as one of them, but she does a lot of beautiful practice all over the country. And I recall we were doing equity, so this was like racial equity and diversity workshops. But we decided to start it off with a decolonized beginning where instead of people telling us about the institution they came from, they told us the story of the water that was near or around the institution they came from. And what we discovered in that conversation was when you bring together a cohort of people from all over the country and they start telling the story of their water, you find out that all of their waters are ultimately pretty connected. And then that helps you to have other conversations about our connected ecologies and how if you poison something someplace eventually it's all poison. But shout out to Annalisa Dias and that was me riffing off of your beautiful prompt group. Thank you. Check.
Jessica: This is Jessica. This is all just making me bring up thoughts of, with this interconnectedness it is giving me this like sense of why we need to have like hope in our purpose. It gives me hope and for the like acts of kindness and generosity that we can do. Because we are so all interconnected and that in acknowledging the land in recognizing those things, it makes me think about that and want to leave and do those acts of kindness and generosity, not just for myself and the people immediately in the space, but for the history. And all time being like that history is now and what that will ripple forward for seven generations forward and back. I'm feeling very hopeful and generous. Check.
Jill: I think picking up on what Roo and Jessica have said, and thank you for sharing that Claudia. What wonderful practice. Absolutely. Thank you. I think picking up on just thinking about where we are today. I walk a lot and I've always walked a lot and now I walk, well I still have walk a lot. That's all there is to do, be here or a walk. And I walked well. I think about when I'm walking and see, I was out the other day and I saw a man, he was, I don't know if he's homeless entirely or if he's just very, very, very poor, financially challenged, but he was very cold. It's could be still, we've had a couple of warm days here in Tkaronto but we don't get a big spread, we get hail and sleet and rain and mock and then we get summer. So it's often quite chilly at this. It's not like the glorious West coast, I'll tell you that much. So there was a man and he was very under dressed and very cold and he asked me for some money for food. And so first I gave him a few dollars and money for food. And then he asked me how I was and I said, I'm fine, and how are you? And he said he was cold. So not thinking properly, I gave him, I didn't have very much in my wallet, but I gave him about 25 bucks and I said, "This isn't a lot, but if you go maybe to Value Village," not thinking the gel, "if you go to Value Village, "you could maybe buy a nice warm sweater "or maybe even a jacket" "which will keep you warm like a Goodwill, "or a Value Village or something." But he can't, I mean, I don't think even he realized it in the moment, but where is he gonna get anything and what good is any cash? I mean, of course I'm gonna give cash to people, because yes, it can feed you. But what good is anything going to do these homeless people, I mean beyond filling their belly in the moment, they can't even sit inside now. Well, there's no place. They can't go to a JIM WORTON's and buy an hour of warmth. They can go and they can buy a coffee or a donut. But they can't go and buy the right to use a washroom. Everything is closed. There is no hospitality. The story of the lands that I come from is one of immense hospitality, hospitality to the stranger. The hood in the Shawnee, who were also stewards of this land and shared this land with the Muskogee, Anishnabeg. The word Shawnee, and the wonder peoples, those Iroquoian peoples, as the linguist might call them, had traditions, longhouse traditions and had traditions of hospitality, a stranger's house where you'd come hungry and cold and you'd go through an edge of the woods ceremony, a meeting and an introducing of yourself. And then you'd be housed, I mean, before you had to stage a business, before you went in there and said, "Okay, we got to do this, so let's make a deal, or let's," whatever it is, whatever you knew would come running or trudging through, across miles and miles to do this thing that happened where your needs were taken care of, you were given water to drink, you were given food to eat, you were given a warm place to sleep with blankets around you, skins, you were bath. And then once those physical needs and emotional needs, you were given condolence. And once all of that was taken care of, then business started, whatever that business was. In this time, this is part of the story of this land too, which I guess I've been remiss in telling during my walks, I mean, I tried to live hospitality, but telling that and making, creating those bone deep changes where we find ways to keep the stranger warm.
In this case, the stranger is the one who is homeless or the one who is inadequately sheltered. And the one with inadequate funds. The one who's not going to be able to go online and get a code of the internet or something and who now cannot walk into anywhere. I don't know what I'm saying. I'm just babbling, so I'll stop now. Checkout. But I'm just again, thinking about the stories of the land and the people and the places that we come from to remember ourselves, to remember myself as a mixed blood Indigenous woman. And to remember our sounds and what's in this land, because all of these protocols, as I've come to learn is I've been taught, all of these protocols, all of these stories, the very way we met, the very way we practice everything, we were governed by the land, our narrative structures, this beautiful rings, circles within circles within circles. I mean, that's just the land telling us what to do. That's the tree stumps, we said upon. You see those spirals everywhere from the Milky Way above, the galaxies above, to the spider webs below, to the way the rain dances, the drops dancing, the trees and catch the light to the tree stumps.
We see that narrative structure, we see that social structure, we see every law that's it's given to us, given from the land. And so those are part of, I guess the streets we should sell. And I love this, when I think of embedding the land acknowledgement, well why are we doing this? Why are we talking about who was here first and what happened and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, right. I'm thinking like a Westerner. Why do? Who cares? 'Cause they don't care about their own history. Many settlers, many do, many don't. But why? Why do we bring this up? Why at every ceremony do you go back to the beginning of the beginning of the beginning and all those creation stories and la, la, la, to remember who we are, to remember what those natural laws are, to remember that if we're going to share this land and if people have come here and they're meant to be here perhaps or they aint. So then what is the responsibility moving forward? Certainly not to forget that history. It's to move on in a good way. Okay, I'll shut up, sorry. But embedding, embedding and embedding, I'm gonna write that down, embed, embed, embed.
Claudia: Oh my gosh, again, just affirmation for my beautiful colleagues. Smart, smart brains. Your comments sparked in me questions around private and public space. Like the story I was telling you about analysts, that was one where instead of telling the story of our privatized spaces we were affiliated with, we were sharing the story of these other public spaces we are all affiliated with, connected to, that they're a part of our story and our narrative. I'm deeply interested. I'm always a little concerned about private and public space in these digital spaces. Like for instance, Facebook is not public space. That's not the commons, that's privatized space, that is enriching Mark Zuckerberg and his board members and whatnot and everything we're doing there with cultural production, with all of that is in privatized space. Where is our public space and how do we craft that for ourselves? Is this an act what we're doing right now, collaborated with HowlRound, with their ethos of the commons. Is this an exercise in disrupting the privatization of digital space? I don't know. Would it be awesome though if it was. We had an amazing question that was shared online. Would it be all right with you my colleagues if I shared that question? All right, thank you so much. So I'm just going to the question, would you too. And the question was, is land acknowledgement necessary for the materials utilized in technical aspects of theatrical production? So is it useful to acknowledge not only the physical place that you are on, but the ways it was resourced and where all of those things came from? Lumber, electricity, paint, pigment, fabric, water. So I love that beautiful, provocative question and I lean back and mute myself and I'll have my colleagues respond.
Tara: Well, I have a provocative answer, 'cause of the way you've provoked. Anyway. Again, speaking for myself, but I also think this is pretty universal. None of us are gatekeepers when it comes to land acknowledgement and what institutions should and should not do. I am no supreme authority of anything other than my own life and my cat's lives. And that's it. But this question though I think is really interesting because the word necessary trips me up because again, not being a gatekeeper, not saying these are the roles and then you get an eight plus ally sticker. You are a good settler. But instead though, what it does bring up is what we've all been talking about, about how interconnected these spaces are in how we cannot ignore where our resources came from. Like, although we may be on, like I referenced earlier, I may be on Muskogee, Osage in Cherokee Nation. I was like, but I cannot forget the fact that this building that I am from comes from oil money, which came from again, post this burning of Black Wall Street, which came from more exploitation, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Like as negligent again, as I said before. And so whenever we think about where do we get our lumber, our electricity, our payment fabric, especially our water, I mean, how can you not act like putting the forefront of your minds front line communities of where those came from. If these resources were exploited, which toiler and those likely they were, depends on where you get them from, but most likely. How does it affect from like communities? And especially right now, as we're not just in this pandemic, but also we are living in a climate crisis, and this pandemic again, is very much a part of that. We have to be very cognizant of lumber, electricity, paint, fabric, water, et cetera, as this wonderful question that came in. And so I think there's different ways than saying, I'm not a peer advocating, saying, here's our land acknowledgement for our theatre. Here's a land acknowledgement for our lumber yard. Here's a land acknowledgement for our paint supplier, et cetera, et cetera.
But I think just being very cognizant of where you get those resources from and who are affected by those and how you, if you are an individual who has institutional power, can help make more just to theatre, can uplift these marginalized communities, front line community folks. Because again, land acknowledgement are not just empty words. It's about those relationships and correcting those as much as we can because no one can. We're trying to, as best as we can, correct those wrongs, reconcile, build relationships. And I think that needs to be universal across the board, not just with land acknowledgement but where we get our supplies. And then also as we have more conversations coming up in the coming weeks with other folks, like we need to be in better conversations with people and understand the harms that we are intentionally unintentionally, subconsciously, consciously inflicting on these front line communities where it comes from. Check.
DeLesslin “Roo”: I'm, very similarly to Tara, kind of recoil at the term necessary 'cause like, what does it mean? But I mean Jill was speaking about the whole Shawnee and one teaching that I've heard from one of Shawnee folks is the practice of the words before all else, which in a settler context she might describe as a land acknowledgement, but it's a, in reality, it's an acknowledgement of gratitude and reliance. Again, we cannot exist, right? How can we talk about anything else if we don't talk about the things that make our literal existence possible. And it's also a recognition of what our responsibility and our reciprocity is. And so, I mean I would say that if we wanna be living in a good way, it might be a great idea to acknowledge all these things. But I also wanna recognize that these products that we're interacting with and when we're talking about materials and computers and digital infrastructure they are in one way described as products that the companies that create them are invested in obscuring the sources for the most part.
So it is not simply us correcting a space of neutrality. We're not just walking in and then saying this hasn't been discussed, I'm gonna discuss it. It's often us fighting against a specific desire and strategy by these companies to obscure where they come from. I think about in 2014, I was doing just like a research paper in college about where these metals are coming from that make our cell phone technology possible, that make our computer technology possible. And what had happened in the early 2000s is that companies like Apple started investing in these factories specifically in China that would not disclose where those metals came from. And that was a specific move by them in response to criticism that they weren't sourcing those metals ethically. And so yes, we should be recognizing where these products are coming from, where these materials, where these sources are coming from. But we also have to recognize that we are often individualized in this. And so that work of figuring out where these things come from can feel really insurmountable because so many resources have been invested into obscuring it. Those are just my thoughts. Check.
Claudia: Oh, Grant, please go right ahead.
Grant: I am a part time wheelchair user and I've been really curious about how I would research the lineage of the parts that made my power chair. And I'm reminded of what Jill was talking about earlier about the beautiful glass with the box, beautiful glass box in front of us that is also covered in blood. And I think about these, the body of my wheelchair as like a body that has its own kind of experience. It's very muddy because it lives in my garden. A lot of the time. And there's something for me about what is being said about how it is that I learn to not take these things for granted and to accept responsibility for the collaboration with these items and coexisting on this planet and with this planet and with, and like sharing life. I think there's a lot more here, but I don't feel like I need to say it now. Thanks.
Claudia: I’m reflecting on, and note that, into that our conversation earlier that was around the protocols of theatre and how we often will talk about the Indigenous protocols. Like they're this different thing when all institutions have protocols. And one of the protocols of at least regional theatre inside the United States is the acknowledging of the philanthropy class. That can take place in a lot of different ways, but there's always, in a lot of the moment, there's something that's scripted. Maybe it's a curtain speech, maybe it's a potion thing at the very least, it's acknowledged in like some kind of written documentation. So that piece of resourcing of the institution gets highlighted and it gets highlighted explicitly because that's part of a larger narrative project of creating the philanthropy class and all of the work that takes place around that. So again, I just, I keep going back to this. You gotta be explicit and you get to decide how explicit you're going to be. But this is about making visible the harm that the community work so hard to erase in silence. And if we make it visible, at least then we have to acknowledge it. Ideas, check.
Tara: And then Claudia, from there, as soon as we are able to acknowledge it, because this is a journey, no one's born learning, knowing all this information but once we're able to acknowledge it, then we can start moving forward to a more just future and creating more just and equitable practices, building better relationships with people in changing how our institutions, our individual practices operate with how large and multifaceted interconnected, every single one of these conversations are and groups of people are and our work is. So thank you with that. Right now we're moving towards the very close, the closing period of our conversation.
Thank you all so much for tuning in, but before you hop off we're going to engage in another one of our unsettling practices which is going through and checking in with everyone. So if you would give a word to how you're feeling, a phrase, however, you want to express yourself. Just from our conversation and the ones, everyone who's on Zoom has had that opportunity to go through. We'll come back together, do a final closing, and then thank you all for tuning in at home. And then also for those of you at home, I would also extend that to you to think about the word phrase, however, to express yourself. You're also feeling after listening and be with in conversation with us. So with that I'll go first. I came in very just overwhelmed from all of these outside things and right now I'm feeling the most energized that I've been in the 22 days I've been in quarantine. So thank you all for that. Energized is my word. Check.
DeLesslin “Roo”: This is Roo. I'm feeling a sense of unfolding. I was similarly stressed and feeling compacted towards the beginning and I feel like this conversation has helped me open up a little bit and also feeling more integrated with you all and with my practice and with the lands that I'm living on and that we're all living on. And I know that we're talking about checkout, but I just wanna say one more thing to that question earlier, which was maybe the answer is to approach it as if maybe it is important to do land acknowledgement for the technical side of it and see where that leads you. There's no perfect answer to it, but maybe that exploration is what's gonna create some productive changes in your practices. Check.
Jessica: This is Jessica. I'm feeling related and connected in the sense that I haven't felt for a while. So thank you. I'm really considering relationality to all things in many new and exciting ways, and I feel so much more grounded than I did when I landed here. So thank you. Check.
Mia: This is Mia. I feel still small tornado of breath in my throat and upper chest. So still some wait and anxiety intention of the outer world seeping into the inner world and the inner world as it relates to the outer world. And simultaneous to that, I feel an unfurling maybe, is that what you just said Roo? And then weaving of the tight ball of thread in me connecting in with all of you and with all of the people who have been with us, who we haven't been directly speaking with and seeing over the course of the last two hours and 46 minutes and really profoundly impacted by the immensity of knowledge and wisdom, and our willingness to question and to mistake and arrive and mistake and arrive and cover that this group shapes itself towards. Thank you. And I wanna make a practical announcement that, but I'll hold that until we've all checked out.
Claudia: Hi, this is Claudia checking out. I am feeling a lot of the same language that my colleagues have been repeating, so I'm feeling warm, I'm feeling warmed up, but warm also like with the emotional warmness. So yeah, I'm feeling warm and flexible and like I'm ready to dance after having three hours of this just amazing exercise. I'm ready to dance with these ideas in the broader world.
Grant: This is Grant. I feel a lot of gratitude to all of the bodies supporting this work, particularly the bodies in digital space that I can see right now. A lot of big gratitude to you, Tara and Claudia and Mia and Roo, also Jessica and Jill. Just feeling a lot of that gratitude. I think in my body I feel like a tightness in the back of my neck. And so I think for my close out, I just wanna invite like space, space at the top of the neck and all of the wonderful little nerve bodies up there that wanna wiggle and move in nonlinear impractical, beautiful ways. The invitation to comfort and soothing and, for the body supporting this work. And also I need just noise that wants to be made that feels supportive or generative.
Jill: Chi-miigwech, Grant. It's still here. Until I started doing this neck thing, I had no idea how tight it was up there. Excuse me. I'm feeling, I feel a great deal of gratitude. I feel like it's exciting to, I'm feeling challenge and all these new fresh ideas have come in and like, Claudia, well, I wasn't going to say I was ready to dance. I like what you said the best though, Claudia, but I was gonna say I'm ready to play. Play, dance something. I feel very yeah, all charged up and ready to do something. So all of you. It's wonderful to see you. It's killing me Grant to look at your picture. I'm feeling super jealous. It's nice. It's nice to know that there are places in the world that look like that. No, it's not mine today. But yes, it's good to see you all in your lovely spaces and lovely faces and I look forward to our next meeting.
Claudia: I believe we have all checked out, yes. we should do a shout out for when we're doing this again. So for the last three hours you have had the pleasure of experiencing what Unsettling Dramaturgy does. Our deep deep practice. And our next gathering where we will be sharing will be April 10th, Unsettling Dramaturgy practice session. Cripping a Practice in Virtual Convenings. It will be taking place and the same time, same places, so you can go to all the internet spaces to find that information. You go to that HowlRound. You go to watch Facebook page, like our Facebook page, go to the Twitter. You should also drop some comments in the Twitter. We would love to hear from you. Thank you so much for joining all of us. I'm gonna hand the mic back to my colleague, Tara. It has been, I just wanna do like a big round of affirmation for all of our panelists. Thank you for your time and your participation. Thank you for so much amazing support from HowlRound and just the accessibility, yay. And also thank you, my fellow narrator. It has been a pleasure facilitating with you. I pass the mic to you for any final comments to close us out.
Tara: Now, awesome. Thank you so much. So again, as Claudia mentioned, we'll be back at it on April 10th. That is a Friday. And then we still have two more sessions, April 20th and April 30th. Those topics are to be announced, so stay tuned on our Facebook which is a great place to get all that information. And then also, if you have any other things you want to send us, any like that, you have our emails, you can what's happening Roo all the time. Send him jokes. I don't know. Anyway, whatever you like, do that Roo. Anyway ,just kidding don't do that, don't do that. Oh, no, we're live. Don't do that, anyway. Wonderful, thanks y'all. So with that again, that is all that we have today and I look so forward to being in conversation with more of our unsettling colleagues and the more of y'all folks at home. So put on your calendar, same time. That's 5:00 p.m Eastern, 2:00 p.m is for Pacific. Yes, great. On April 10th. And with that, thank you all so much. Great, thank you, see y'all. Bye.
Unsettling Dramaturgy presented Praxis Sessions for Virtual Collaboration: Land Acknowledgements livestreamed on the global, commons-based, peer-produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv on Tuesday 31 March 2020 at 2 p.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC-7) / 4 p.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC-5) / 5 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC-4).
Unsettling Dramaturgy is excited to launch our Praxis Sessions for Virtual Collaboration. In this 4-part series we will address approaches to, and practices in online convening that centre unsettling, decolonization, indigenization, and disability justice in process design. This series emerges from our year+ of work and research in transnational convening and creative collaboration through virtual mediums. This series has been developed as our response to the turn towards online organizing that has followed the COVID-19 crisis.
The first session in this series centres on the practice of Land Acknowledgements in virtual, cross-geographic collaboration.
This session will feature Unsettling Dramaturgy Creative Collaborators: Claudia Alick, Roo George-Warren, Jessica Schacht, Tara Moses, Andrea Kovich, Carmen Papalia, mia susan amir
- This series will be streamed live through Zoom, link forthcoming.
- Following an opening, Unsettling Dramaturgy Creative Collaborators will engage in an exchange on the theme for approximately 60 minutes. We will speak from our respective embodied knowledges and practices, with an orientation towards expanding collective practice as is relevant to local ecologies.
- There will be various opportunities throughout the session for participants to publicly and/or anonymously ask questions and provide reflections through a live chat.
- Live notes will be taken in a GoogleDoc, link forthcoming.
- A recording of the session will be made available after the session.
This event will be ASL Interpreted and Live Captioned
ABOUT UNSETTLING DRAMATURGY
Unsettling Dramaturgy is an ongoing project bringing together Crip and Indigenous dramaturgs from across so-called Canada and the United States who work in theatre, dance, and experimental performance.
Using digital platforms we gather to build relationships; to explore and document the critical convergences and divergences in our experiences and work; to amplify Crip and Indigenous aesthetics, ethics, practices, and leadership in our local, national and international performance ecologies; to push the conversations from inclusion to centring, from reconciliation to unsettling, decolonization, and Indigenizing.
This project considers the studio, the stage, and the street as porous and interconnected politicized spaces; spaces impacted by and implicated in the current political climate and historical contexts; spaces where urgent critique, and visionary futures can be imagined, practiced, enacted, and then disseminated to/co-created with a wider public.
This project grounds itself as a continuation of the thriving legacies of leadership and innovation that shape Indigenous and Crip dramaturgies, which precede, survive and move beyond settler colonialism. This project brings together artists from communities that have been historically excluded from mainstream performance ecologies, and which have been further siloed into spaces of making that have systematically prevented critical cross-community collaboration. We are dismantling those silos to advance emerging conversations exploring the conflux of leadership and representation in creation and production as relate to Indigenous sovereignty and Deaf, Mad and Disability culture in the arts. We are generating a platform for self-determined encounter and exchange where our local bodies of knowledge can be activated.
It bears importance to share that this project does not aim to collapse Crip and Indigenous dramaturgies and experiences. The exclusions that our communities face emerge from very specific historical, cultural and political contexts. Further, the ableism, sanism, and audism that Deaf, Disabled and MAD artists face emerge from colonial ways of assigning value and human dignity.
We use Crip to include those who identify as Mad, Sick and Disabled, as well as those who are deemed disabled by society and/or medical institutions whether or not they themselves accept that term; for example those for whom d/Deafness is a cultural identity not a medical condition. We use the word crip as a political intervention, to turn attention onto, and to disrupt, as our collaborator Carmen Papalia writes, the disabling conditions that limit a person and/or community’s agency and potential to thrive.
We use the Indigenous with an acknowledgement of the many complex ways that community, family, belonging, polity, and heritage interact with systems of State recognition.
The words Crip and Indigenous are both used as shorthand and are not intended to generalize or reduce our vast multiplicity of identities, experiences and affiliations.
This project is generously supported by the Canada Council for the Arts | Conseil des arts du Canada and LMDA: Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas.
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 to develop our knowledge commons collectively. 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.
The ASL-English interpretation serves to facilitate communication and does not constitute an authentic record of the original signed and/or spoken language. Only the original signed and/or spoken language, or the revised written translation is considered authentic.