Native Women Language Keepers: Indigenous Performance Practices — January 28th to February 1st 2013, University of Michigan

Poster Native Women Language Keepers

Native Women Language Keepers: Indigenous Performance Practices. An Arts-Based Research Symposium with playwright Alanis King

January 28th to February 1st 2013, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Aanii! Join us for UM’s sixth arts-based research symposium, a week-long exploration of Native women’s practices as language teachers, activists, and artists. In this week, we’re workshopping a play by celebrated Native playwright Alanis King, and we will work in close connection with Miiskwaasinii’ing Nagamojig (The Swamp Singers), a Michigan-based hand-drum group, to create a praise song for Daphne Odjig’s woodland paintings in the University of Michigan’s archives.
This symposium will marry the strengths of the University of Michigan’s Anishinaabemowin language program, a thriving community of language teachers and learners, with our series of arts-based research symposia, in which we investigate ways of knowing through creative means.
In this week, we want to ask questions about the place of performance and women’s work in language survivance and revitalization, about decolonizing methodologies and performance, about honoring Native women artists, and about intercultural performance practices.

Pre-conference events:

Sunday 27th

2pm, Native Campus Community Meet-and-Greet with Alanis King, CSP Conference Room, Angell Hall, Main Campus

Monday 28th

11.30 to 1, Angell Hall 3222
Presentation by Alanis King, an Odawa Playwright/Director originally from the Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve, the first Aboriginal woman to graduate from the National Theatre School of Canada, to English and Ojibwa language undergraduate students.

Tuesday 29th

Symposium Start:
Afternoon, 2pm, Duderstadt Center Video Studio, North Campus
Emilie Monnet is an interdisciplinary artist with Anishnabe and French heritage and a graduate of Ondinnok’s First Nations Theatre training program – in partnership with The National Theatre School of Canada (Montreal, 2007). Emilie co-directed and performed Bird Messengers, for which she was awarded the LOGIQ prize for the most outstanding Art/Culture project of 2011. In May 2012, Emilie directed Songs of Mourning, Songs of Life, a musical theatrical show addressing legacies of genocide and the role of art for collective mourning, in collaboration with the Aboriginal women’s drum group Odaya and the Rwandan traditional musical ensemble, Komezinganzo.
She has two works in development: OKINUM, a one-women interdisciplinary performance inspired by her great great grand-mother, and another theatre collaboration with indigenous artists from the Amazon, Colombia. Emilie’s artistic engagement is inspired by years of social activism with indigenous organizations in Canada and Latin America, and community art projects with incarcerated women and Aboriginal youth. Emilie is the founder and Artistic Director of ONISHKA, an arts organization that fosters artistic collaborations between indigenous peoples worldwide while honoring their richness, diversity and resilience (

Evening, Central Campus North Quad, Room 2435:
7pm, Formal Symposium Opening with Heid Erdrich

Poet Heid E. Erdrich, a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe, was born in Breckenridge, Minnesota, and raised in nearby Wahpeton, North Dakota, where her Ojibwe mother and German American father taught at the Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding school.
Erdrich’s poetry often explores themes of indigenous culture, mothering, and the natural world, using the cadence of oral storytelling and a close attention to sound and meter to drive poems rich with sensory and dreamlike imagery. Erdrich is the author of several poetry collections, including Cell Traffic (2012), National Monuments (2008), winner of the Minnesota Book Award; The Mother’s Tongue (2005), part of Salt Publishing’s award-winning Earthworks Series of Native American and Latin American literature; and Fishing for Myth (1997). In a 2006 review, Twin Cities Daily Planet critic Erin Lynn Marsh described The Mother’s Tongue as “an exploration of our culture’s relationship with the term ‘mother’ and of the beginnings of language.”
With her sister, the writer Louise Erdrich, she founded the Turtle Mountain Writing Workshop. In 2008 the sisters co-founded Birchbark House, an organization that promotes literature written in indigenous languages. The sisters describe their vision on the foundation’s website: “We foresee a vital return to our Native American languages through the efforts of elders that are already underway. In creating ways to keep their words alive, through books, films, teaching and more, we will keep our languages viable and more, we will allow the means for creative fluency, the hallmark of a fully living language.”

Wednesday 30th

11:45 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. Marcie Rendon workshop. Duderstadt Center Video Studio, North Campus.

Marcie Rendon (Anishinaabe) is a theatre maker and writer activist who supports and encourages other writers to write in Ojibwe. Among her projects are a writing residency she facilitated on the White Earth reservation as part of a three-phase Project Hoop Residency to create theater projects at a community level.
She will lead a ten-minute play, Friends, which was published in Performing Worlds into Being: Native American Women’s Theater, and which she and the group will translate into Ojibwe for possible production in Winnipeg in 2013. We will have a reading of the script and then work together on translation issues. With 298 and 323, in Duderstadt

6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Angel Sobotta Presentation. CSP Conference Room, Angell Hall

Angel Sobotta (Nez Perce), is a Nez Perce language teacher in the tribal headstart, local schools, and at the Lewis Clark State College in Idaho. She is also a writer and documentary filmmaker of projects like, “’Ipsqilaanx heewtnin’ weestesne – Walking on Sacred Ground – the Nez Perce Lolo Trail” and “Surviving Lewis and Clark: The Niimiipuu Story” both winning the Aurora and Telly awards respectively. She is also a theater maker with the Lapwai Afterschool Programs, teaching language by adapting legends and directing the youth, including “Niimiipuum Titwaatit – The People’s Stories,” an anti-bullying project (2012). Angel is a University of Idaho Interdisciplinary Masters student. Her thesis involves an immersion experience for language teachers by adapting the Nez Perce creation story, written in the Nez Perce language, into a stage play.

Thursday 31st

3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Virginie Magnat workshop, Duderstadt Center Video Studio, North Campus
Virginie Magnat is Assistant Professor of Performance at University of British Columbia, Okanagan. She conducts embodied research on transmission processes among women performers from different cultures, traditions, and generations; and draws from Indigenous epistemologies and methodologies to examine the interrelation of lived experience, embodied knowledge, tradition, creativity, and spirituality. Her essay “Can Research Become Ceremony? Performance Ethnography and Indigenous Epistemologies” appeared in summer 2012 in the Canadian Theatre Review.
She will share a workshop called “Sharing Embodied Cultural Knowledge Through Traditional Songs.” In this session, participants will be invited to share/teach/learn traditional songs from their cultural legacy so that we can get to know each other through our songs.

6.00 -8.30 Swamp Women/ Miiskwaasinii’ing Nagamojig workshop, Duderstadt Center Video Studio, North Campus
Create a new praise song with the Swamp Women, Miiskwaasinii’ing Nagamojig, among Daphne Odjig’s’s paintings. Come, sing, drum and be part of the community!

Friday 1st of February

On Friday morning, we’ll gather for a workshop sharing and video recording in the Duderstadt Center Video Studio. 10-1.

In the afternoon, we end our gathering with a presentation by Margaret Noori, followed by a communal reflection on aesthetics, women and performance. 2.00-4.30, Duderstadt Center, Conference Room 1180, North Campus.

Margaret Noori (Anishinaabe) received an MFA in Creative Writing and a PhD in English and Linguistics from the University of Minnesota. She is Director of the Comprehensive Studies Program and teaches the Anishinaabe Language and American Indian Literature at the University of Michigan. She is also one of the founders of the drum group Miskwaasining Nagamojig, current President of Association for the Study of American Indian Literatures, one of the Clan Mothers who coordinate the annual Native American Literature Symposium, and member of the Anishinaabemowin-Teg Executive Board. Her book Bwaajimowin: A Dialect of Dreams in Anishinaabe Language and Literature is forthcoming from MSU Press and her poetry has recently appeared in the Michigan Quarterly Review, Sing: Poetry from the Indigenous Americas and Cell Traffic by Heid Erdrich. For more information visit where she and her colleagues have created a space for language that is shared by academics and the native community.
She will be work-shopping a chapter from a forthcoming book on Anishinaabe narrative traditions which traces the way “oral” traditions are actually “physical” performance traditions which carry thought into space and allow us to exchange our interpretations of the world around as word which becomes stage dialogue, story, lyrics or poetry.

Contact for information and queries, contact the symposium directors, Margaret Noori and Petra Kuppers: and

Generous Support provided by the Institute for World Performance Studies, the Rackham Dean’s Strategic Funding, OVPR, LSA, the Humanities Institute and the International Institute, the Digital Media Commons – University Library, the English Language and Literature Department, the Women’s Studies Department, and the Trauma Studies Collective.

One thought on “Native Women Language Keepers: Indigenous Performance Practices — January 28th to February 1st 2013, University of Michigan

  1. Sandra C. January 18, 2013 / 2:21 pm

    it seems very interesting ! so bad that i live so far from michigan !

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