About the Grant

$28,000 to support The History of Asking the Wrong Question (MAP 2010), by Ain Gordon and Pick Up Performance Co(s) in partnership with VSA North Fourth Arts Center of Albuquerque, NM, a theatrical debate on the relationship Native American’s have to the history Anglo culture has forcibly written for them.

About the Project

Writer/director Ain Gordon collaborates with filmmakers Ramona Emerson and Kelly Byars (married Native-American artists; she is Navajo, he is Choctaw). America demands its history deliver names, hard facts, period "authenticity," but history in New Mexican Native culture(s) is rooted in oral tradition – an accumulation of action/reaction that resists “factual” boundaries. 1920's traditional Pueblo feast-day dances are "dressed up" by "well-meaning" Anglos “adding drama" for tourists - 80 years later anthropologists demand return to "true tradition" only to be told by Native artists, "we've done it this way for decades - it is tradition - the public one."

1930's tourists buy Acoma Pueblo's traditional black and white pottery. For centuries Pueblo artists left work unsigned; anonymity was not invisibility, artists knew their pots by sight - the tribe recognized collective form.

1950's tourist pottery buyers become collectors desiring documentation for their purchase. Native artists begin signing, even dating, pots (though it’s believed artists signed each others pots or post-dated them) The brand of authorship demanded was not the one they valued. America sought to eradicate these people, then ghettoize them, then romanticize them, then re-forge the telling of the very history it tried to destroy. America has never asked the right question.

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