Native Women’s Voices through Poetry

Los Angeles is home of the largest American Indian population in the country. In recognition of the city’s immense tribal diversity, artist and filmmaker Pamela J. Peters (Navajo) brings together four renowned Native American women for an evening of poetry and spoken word.

Pulling from the land, language, and traditional life of the contemporary Native American, each poet illuminates what it means to be a Native woman writer today. Alongside Peters, participating poets are Tazbah Rose Chavez (Nüümü, Diné and Apache), Emily Clarke (Cahuilla), Kinsale Hueston (Navajo), and Allison Ramirez (Tohono O’odham).

This program is open to all and is presented in conjunction with the exhibition Rigo 23: Ripples Become Waves. The exhibition will be open during the program. All Beta Main exhibitions and programs are FREE.

Tazbah Rose Chavez is an artist raised on an Owens Valley Paiute reservation in California’s Sierra Nevada. An enrolled citizen of the Bishop Paiute Tribe, she is Nüümü, Diné and Apache. Tazbah has been writing poetry since childhood and performing since the age of 14. As a teenager she began writing and producing experimental short films that combined film, music, and poetry. The award-winning films went on to be showcased at film festivals internationally. She later interned at Sundance Institute while attending UCLA where she graduated with a BA in American Indian Studies. Tazbah currently resides in Los Angeles and continues to write poetry and perform, most often collaborating with other artists in fashion, film, and music. Her most recent work is in collaboration with fashion designer, Bethany Yellowtail, composing two spoken word videos for the B.Yellowtail brand’s marketing initiatives, one of which serving as the video’s Artistic Director. Other current collaborations include being one half of Seattle based music group, Synonyms IV Air. You can find her work here: www.tazbah.com

Emily Clarke is a Cahuilla Native American writer. She studies Creative Writing full time and is the head of the Parllax publishing team at Idyllwild Arts Academy. Amongst other publications, Emily’s work has been featured in News From Native California and Four Winds Literary Journal. At fifteen, Emily won a Gold Key in the Scholastic Art and Writing competition for her humor piece titled “How To Be A Fake Indian,” and she has not stopped writing about Native rights since. Emily is inspired by Native women, communities, activism, and culture. Her work often displays the injustices committed against the Native American community and her own experiences with discrimination. Recently, her work has been focused around her trip to Standing Rock last year where she protested The Dakota Access Pipeline.

Kinsale Hueston is currently a 2017 National Student Poet, the nation’s highest honor for youth poets presenting original work, and a senior in high school in Southern California. An enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, Kinsale’s work seeks to contemporize Native American culture and address modern issues facing her tribe. Kinsale is also the recipient of the Yale Young Native Storytellers Award for Spoken Word/Storytelling, and two National Scholastic Gold Medals for poetry and dramatic script.

Pamela J. Peters is an Indigenous multimedia documentarian from the Navajo Reservation, currently living in Los Angeles. Her work, which she calls “Indigenous Realism,” explores the lives and diversities of contemporary American Indians, not artifacts of a stereotypically imagined past. Pamela’s work pushes viewers to critically analyze the psychological and historical structures of Native Americans in mass media. Her work stems from what she has witnessed and can identify as a Navajo living in the city—the social impact of the negative, inaccurate, and insulting portrayals of American Indians still seen in film and television. Her images, films and writings provide a truthful counter-narrative to negative stereotypes as well as a deep understanding of Indians in Los Angeles today.

Pamela’s video poem about the continuing impact of colonization on tribal people, entitled My Once Life, won best video poem from Button Poetry, a national poetry organization. Pamela continues to write short stories about the life of urban Indians, which has been featured in Zocala Public Square, Al Jazeera (AJ+), Indian Country Today Media, Last Real Indian and Medium. More work can be seen at www.pamelajpeters.com

Allison Ramirez is a member of the Tohono O’odham Nation from the Wa:k Community of Southern Arizona. She holds a BA from the University of Arizona in sociology and is doctoral student at UCLA where she is Cota-¬‐Robles Fellow. She is a scholar of race, culture, and colonialism. She is also the book review editor for the American Indian Culture and Research Journal. Her current research focuses on resistance to racial boundaries and transnational Indigeneity in Los Angeles. She has publications in Berkley’s Eleven and Literary Orphans.

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