White Snake Projects is taking a major step in decolonizing opera and returning control of Indigenous stories to Indigenous people. We have received a Civic Practice grant from Opera America, opera’s national service organization, to establish The Indigenous Directory for Musical Storytelling. This directory, which will include musicians, performers, directors, designers, composers, writers, and other creators, will serve as a reference for the performing arts industry in casting, hiring and commissioning Indigenous creators and artists.
Indigenous music and stories have been long overlooked or exoticized in mainstream opera/music theater because of colonial domination. Twenty-first century Indigenous artists have expressed a need to tell contemporary stories about their people, stories that show them living, working, creating and thriving in society today–stories that are not corrupted by the colonial perspective. Decolonizing mainstream musical storytelling requires that we demand landback and occupy cultural spaces where Indigenous peoples have been ostracized or excluded.
White Snake Projects will also present a Community Performance Series featuring artists selected from the directory and begin the development of new Indigenous opera using its resources. We hope that performing arts organizations will join us in using this directory as a tool to disrupt inauthentic narratives and celebrate Indigenous communities.
THE INDIGENOUS DIRECTORY FOR MUSICAL STORYTELLING STEERING COMMITTEE
CERISE LIM JACOBS, Opera Maker + Founder of White Snake Projects
TIANHUI NG, Music Director, White Snake Projects
TIMOTHY LONG (Muscogee, Thlopthlocco, Choctaw), Music Director, Eastman Opera Theatre
MAHTOWIN MUNRO (Lakota), United American Indians of New England
KISHA JAMES (Aquinnah Wampanoag), United American Indians of New England
BRENT MICHAEL DAVIDS (Mohican, Munsee-Lenape), Composer, Co-Director, Lenape Center
JEAN-LUC PIERITE (Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana), North American Indian Center of Boston
RAQUEL HALSEY (Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation), North American Indian Center of Boston