On Friday May 26, the Paramount Theatre's hosting Rumble + Re:definition, which includes a free screening of the revelatory documentary Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World and an art exhibit called Indigenous Centered Perspectives, curated by Stranger Genius Tracy Rector. This SIFF-affiliated event is a fortuitous conjunction of cinematic and visual art that vividly portrays important cultural contributions made by Native Americans. The latter contains pieces by Bracken Hanuse Corlett, Margie Morris, and Amanda Spotted Fawn Strong. I interviewed Rector—who's been running SIFF's Indigenous programs for the last 12 years—about her participation in and motivations for this multi-disciplinary extravaganza. Check it out after the jump. (You can obtain free tickets for it here.)
The Stranger: What's the connection, if any, between Rumble's themes (the resiliency, primacy, and militancy of Native musicians in American culture), and Re:definition? Do you view the film and the exhibit as being synergistic?
Rector: Basically it's a driving force and vision for me to Indigenize Seattle through the vehicle of art and activism. More specifically, to remind people that we are on Indigenous land and that as Native people we are thriving creatives producing amazing works of art while also leading social justice movements. In fact, we have always been here but have often been been overlooked or ignored.
I think the realm of music is a great example because Indigenous musicians have had a long history contributing to contemporary music through the ages. People like Jimi Hendrix, a major American music icon, was proud of his Cherokee heritage and spoke to this aspect of himself. Another famous person is the Black Eyed Peas founder Taboo, of the Shoshone Nation. He too is not only a pioneer in modern hiphop but an active political leader taking the lead on issues such as Standing Rock and cancer awareness.
For many Native people, art is not separate from life; it's just a natural expression of cultural identity, self and the creative spirit.
For Indigenous communities, media-making can be many things: a form of self-expression, a method of empowerment, an education in leadership and teamwork, a way of learning about and preserving one's own culture, a way of connecting with their communities and their elders, and a skill that can lead to a satisfying career the creative industries. Indigenous Media adds a new voice to the debate on Native, First Nations, Aboriginal and Indigenous issues—what some call "diversifying the dialogue." As many of these emerging filmmakers' skills and commitment strengthen, they are increasingly seen as determined contributors and visionary creators.
In our show on Friday, it was important to me to combine multiple layers of hard-hitting, badass Native artistry from film, visual art to music. So [Rumble + Re:definition] is basically a culmination of a few different hats I wear or responsibilities that I take on: SIFF Program Director - 4th World Media Lab; SIFF Indigenous content programmer; Paramount Theatre Guest Curator for Re:definition 2017, and Executive Director/Founder of Longhouse Media.