Friday, October 10, 2008

Origins: First Nations Theater From Around the World


At last year’s London launch of ORIGINS: First Nations theater From Around the World, we created ORIGINS: On the Road as a way to bring Indigenous theatermakers to Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities around the world. We see this as an essential part the ORIGINS mission to bring Indigenous theater to world audiences.

Australian Aboriginal playwright David Milroy just completed the first ORIGINS: On The Road tour. David Milroy is a Palyku man from the Pilbara region of Western Australia. He has achieved national and international success and recognition as a musician, playwright, writer and theatre director. David won the prestigious Patrick White Playwrights’ Award (Australia) in 2004 for Windmill Baby.
Origins Indigenous Theater

As the first artistic director of Yirra Yaakin, from 1995 to 2003, David worked with first-time writers and artists to present an acclaimed body of new Western Australian Indigenous works. He is widely recognized for his contribution to Aboriginal theatre industry development and, in 2002, was a co-recipient of the Myer Award, acknowledging his commitment to empowering the Aboriginal community to present their own stories.

The tour was a great success. David met with Native American playwrights and actors, and gave presentations on family history, Aboriginal history, and the development of Aboriginal theater in Australia to audiences ranging from middle and high school students to college and university students and community members, as well as conducting workshops on scriptwriting at:

  • The University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, through the Theater Arts and Dance Department and the Department of Anthropology
  • Sinte Gleska University, Mission, South Dakota. Sinte Gleska was one of the first tribal colleges in the United States and remains committed to its earliest purposes: to preserve and teach Lakota culture, history and language to promote innovative and effective strategies to address the myriad of social and economic concerns confronting the Sicangu Lakota Oyate.
  • Black Hills State University, Spearfish, South Dakota—a regional university with a strong Native American student body and faculty
  • Oglala Lakota College, Kyle, South Dakota. Oglala Lakota College is chartered by the Oglala Sioux Tribe. Its mission is to provide educational opportunities which enhance Lakota life
  • Fort Berthold Community College, New Town, North Dakota, September 23-24. The Fort Berthold Community College is chartered to provide quality cultural, academic, and vocational education and services for the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation.
  • University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, through the Department of Theatre and Film
  • Haskell Indian Nations University, a national center for Indian education, research, and cultural preservation, located in Lawrence, Kansas

In the course of the tour, David received many honors, including

the gifting of a star quilt and beaded hat from the chairman and tribal council of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Naiton of the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota a powwow in his honor by students and parents from the Mandaree school, North Dakota introduction at the Little Wound School back-to-school powwow in South Dakota
David Milroy Australian Aboriginal Playright
Plans are now underway to tour other Indigenous theatermakers internationally as ORIGINS: First Nations Theater From Around The World continues in its mission to bring Indigenous theater and theatermakers to world audiences.

David Milroy’s United States Tour was funded by contributions from the Australian Embassy, the University of Minnesota, Sinte Gleska University, Oglala Lakota College, Fort Berthold Community College, the University of Kansas, and Bronitsky and Associates.

For additional information about this tour and upcoming tours, please contact

Dr Gordon Bronitsky


Bronitsky and Associates

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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

October 1-7, 2008: Five Key Indigenous People's Issues

Five Important Indigenous People's Issues for the Week of October 1 - 7, 2008

Bolivia: This Is A Fight Between Rich And Poor

Speaking from within the belly of the beast, Bolivia’s indigenous President Evo Morales announced at the 63rd United Nations General Assembly that the world today is paying witness to a “fight between rich and poor, between socialism and capitalism”.

“There is an uprising against an economic model, a capitalistic system that is the worst enemy of humanity”, Morales said.

With his confidence boosted following the recent rolling back of a right-wing offensive whose objective was a “civil coup” against his government, Morales used his intervention at the UN summit to do what he had done last year: denounce capitalism.

Morales also used the opportunity to refer to recent events in his own country. Following his crushing victory in the August 10 recall referendum — in which close to seven out of 10 voters demonstrated their support for him and the process of change he is leading — the right-wing pro-autonomy opposition based in the east of Bolivia unleashed a desperate wave of violence and terrorism aimed at toppling his government.

In response, Morales expelled the US ambassador due to his role in leading the coup conspiracy and decreed marshal law in the department (state) of Pando — site of the most intense violence. Pando’s opposition-aligned prefect Leopoldo Fernandez ordered the September 11 massacre of pro-government peasants. With the official death toll reaching almost 20, and more than 100 people still missing, the military successfully hunted down the fugitive prefect, who is now facing trial for charges of genocide. Read more about indigenous Bolivian struggles here....

Fiji: In Search of God

People of many different religious beliefs accept the existence of God as a matter of faith. Faith, however, in the absence of tangible evidence is currently regarded as an irrational belief.

While the leap through faith to justify the existence of God may have some merit, in this article, an effort is made to analyse miracles which many religions use to justify the existence of the Creator.

In the Bible, for example, walking on water and the resurrection of Lord Jesus from the dead is used to establish the supernatural status of Lord Jesus.

Miracle is defined in Oxford Dictionary as a good act that cannot be explained by the known laws of nature and therefore considered to be caused by supernatural power.
In this context, fire walking could be considered a miracle.

It has elements of goodness and cannot be reasonably explained by the current laws of nature.

Aside from fire walking, other unusual practices include walking on nails, piercing the skins and the like.

In the ancient Peruvian society, snakes and tigers were used instead of fires to empower fears.

Of the four elements of nature, fire has been central to the evolution of man. Read more about indigenous peoples in Fiji here....

North America: Native Leaders Band Together To Broker Direct Investment Deals With China

When a group of more than 100 Canadian native leaders arrives in China six weeks from now, they will carry a message that is both historic and disarmingly straightforward: China has vast wealth to invest, and Canada's native communities, with their access to timber, coal and minerals, want to do business.

The China-Canada Aboriginal Business Opportunity will be the largest international native business initiative ever undertaken, according to Calvin Helin, a native lawyer and businessman organizing the trip.

"The opportunity to bring investment into Canada on a scale like this is enormous for the whole nation," Mr. Helin said.

"The problem in the aboriginal community historically is that we have resources and we have assets but we don't have any capital or expertise to develop them."

Native leaders have traditionally been cast by opponents as obstacles to investment, insisting on environmental protections or lengthy consultations that slow the pace of development.

But Mr. Helin argues a tide has turned. A new generation of native leaders is seeking investment in their territory on their own terms. By negotiating nation to nation, offering themselves as business partners to Chinese investors, aboriginal leaders can use their leverage over traditional territories in exchange for an equity stake in the business, he said. Read more about Native Americans and China here....

North America: New Jersey American Indian Tribes Get Recognition

Citing years of neglect and a need for the state to properly recognize three New Jersey American Indian tribes, Gov. Jon S. Corzine signed an executive order Tuesday aimed at promoting equality and granting certain rights and privileges previously unaccessible.

"It is long since time for all of us to move forward in making sure that an important part of New Jersey's cultural, both history and present, is properly addressed," Corzine said.

The order comes nine months after the New Jersey Committee on Native American Community Affairs issued a report recommending the state recognize the rights of the three New Jersey tribes — the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape, the Powhatan Renape and the Ramapough Lenape — and take steps to improve the lives of their members through fair housing and environmental regulation.

Granting the tribes state-only recognition would give them, along with the state, access to federal funds that can go toward their communities to help with environment, education and health issues. Read more about N.J. American Indian's recognition here....

Canada: Aboriginal Issues Take Centre Stage

Social issues were front and centre at a candidates' forum hosted by the Dene Nation on Monday evening.

More than 120 citizens and party supporters turned out for the event, which was broadcast across the NWT on CKLB Radio. The forum, which was translated into two Dene languages, lasted three hours, with questions ranging from foster family problems, housing shortages, how to get youth involved in the political process and preserving Dene languages.

Noeline Villebrun, the recently announced candidate for the First Peoples National Party of Canada (FPNPC), said she would work to get the government to dutifully implement the treaties it has signed.

Candidates kept civil throughout the debate, rarely attacking each others' policies, choosing more often to speak of their own.

Villebrun, however, let her feelings be known about her fellow candidate's parties, linking the Liberals with past corruption, while stating the NDP had been inactive during their time in the North and then accusing the Conservatives of trying to "do away with treaties."

Aboriginal people make up 51 per cent of the population of the NWT, according to the 2006 Census.

Only Villebrun and Liberal candidate Gabrielle Mackenzie-Scott, the Liberal candidate, addressed the gathering in Dene languages - during their opening statements. Read more about First Nation's issues here....

Last weeks Five Key Indigenous People's Issues can be found here.

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Monday, October 6, 2008

Indigenous Navajo Film Needs Help

I received this message the other day from indigenous film maker Larry Blackhorse Lowe. He is trying to raise money to complete his latest film, shot entirely in Navajo. Check it out!

Hello everyone

I am currently fund raising for my short film SHIMASANI, which was shot back in June. I currently have a rough cut, but the post production is stalled because of lack of funds. Currently I'm trying to raise $5,000 to get the ball rolling at least.

The film is based on one of my grandmothers experiences when she was in her teens back in the early part of the 20th century. The film is entirely in Navajo, has fantastic performances and is beautifully shot.

If you go to the link below I've opened a fund raising account on fundable. Any help (cash) you could donate would much appreciated.

Below is a link to the trailer if you want to see what I'm trying to finish.


Here is the synopsis.

In the late 1920’s on the Navajo Reservation, teenage Mary Jane spends her time daydreaming while tending to her flock of sheep and working with her Masani (maternal grandmother). One day her older sister Anna Mae runs away from boarding school and brings home with her a book of World Geography that shows Mary Jane an entirely new world that is “just over the mountain”. In the end she must decide whether to maintain her traditional life with her grandmother or go out into the larger world.

Hope you are all healthy and well.

thank you

larry blackhorse lowe

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