Years ago, when I worked for my last full time employer, I had the experience where grantees (we granted to American Indian, Native Alaskan and Native Hawaiian writers, performing artists, visual and traditional artists) would call me up and they spoke of the need in the field for an agent who understood the culture and of a need of advocacy in a broader sense for Native voices to be represented. I became aware of a groundswell of contemporary Native performing artists from across the country and it moved me. It gradually became clear that in order for things to change in the field I would have to take action on my own, ergo the formation of this company - the only one of it's kind to offer agency services exclusively to Native performing artists.
I tell people that his effort, this company isn't about me, it is about activism and making space in the world for touring performing arts for Indigenous voices. I am sincere about this sentiment, I could have been making more money if I hadn't quit my former job. This is about principles and the need for an advocate within a system that has historically and currently excluded Indigenous voices from stages around the company in favor of culturally appropriated content.
Many people express surprise that appropriation, stereotype and discrimination is so rampant in the performing arts - that so many progressive institutions could get it so wrong. Without naming names I can say that there have been extraordinary missteps in some of the largest arts organizations in this country - missteps that are entirely avoidable by doing adequate research and consulting with local Native people. The hundreds of Native Nations whose homelands cover Turtle Island (North America) struggle against a popular perception that they are fading from the earth - or that they no longer exist. This invisibility is pervasive and although we number in the millions, we are often overlooked or excluded or worse, non-native people are employed to speak for us on stages and in museums across the country.
This can and should change and I invite you to become our ally to this goal. Together we can shift the perceptions by the dominant (european) culture and reverse these misconceptions. Once we are empowered to speak for ourselves - tell our stories in our own ways - we can begin on the path to true cultural exchange.