It’s after lunch time now, and the early afternoon lull has hit. Conference goers wander back into the building to the blues-y sound of Annette Taborn’s harmonica. The lackadaisical tone of this part of the conference is welcoming, as this gives conference goers the opportunity to really appreciate what we came here to learn about: women’s music and women’s role in music.
As we listen to this all-woman blues band, we have the opportunity to examine the Altar that is in the Atrium. The Altar has photos of important women who have stood up and spoken loud about their identity and their values. Also spread throughout the Altar are quotes which cite the importance of the struggle women have experienced. There’s a photo of Tarana Burke with a quote that says “These women are able not just to share their shame but to put the shame where it belongs: on the perpetrator.”
Reading messages like this, while also listening to the music that is created by strong women who have struggled, really codifies the importance of what we are doing here today.
Promised Land tells the story of two tribes, the Chinook and Duwamish, who were both denied official recognition by the US Government. The first act of the film highlighted the experience of various tribe members and leaders, and gave the history of the US Government attempting, but failing to follow through, on reserving rights for the tribes of the Pacific Northwest. There were stories of longhouses being burned down to make room for real estate, and the Chinook tribe was told to move north or be refused to be recognized by the Senate as a real tribe.
After viewing the first act, the two co-directors along with two guests spoke about what reclaiming space means to them. To them, it’s not just about the land. It’s about their history, their livelihood, their lifestyle. Currently, the autonomy of 4 Culture is being threatened, and they gave a call to action to everyone to fight against this. 4 Culture is a center that provides access for minority populations to express their cultures, especially the ones that are most at risk. Without those institutions, their culture would not have survived, and we must defend the places that provide people of color with a space to express their identity.