The Art of Story Telling Residency,
with partial support by The Native Arts and Culture Foundation
The classroom activities fostered an inter-generational dialogue with elders from the community who are the stewards of important stories, traditions and knowledge surrounding the existence of water, earth-based and coastal living.
Fueling this artistic module is the conviction that such intergenerational exchanges are fundamental to the health of a community which fosters young talent. The module’s workshops helped the residency’s young scholars translate their growing experience, expertise, into a new generation of stories. The module culminated in an evening of intergenerational storytelling around the theme of water, albeit tears. The greatest benefit to the participants was that the program provided youth an opportunity to find their voice and strength to present orally with conviction. This task required the correct environment and support system. Surpassing the feeling of vulnerability or shame, youth moved into a realm of strength and confidence.
Instructor, Jacque Nunez taught most of the classes and began her class by insisting that listening, learning and expression needed to be fostered, at first, by having youth hands create . In particular, for Native Youth whom are disproportionally diagnosed with attention disorders. The body, mind and heart is also open to a connection between traditional organic materials used in crafts, all originating from fresh water, land and sea. Jacque’s life-long experience as a storyteller and performer, her presence was captivating.
Stan Rodriguez introduced the coastal tribal games during our workshops held on the beach. Stories, songs and language came with the introduction of various games. Note that it is rare in La Jolla, or San Diego for that matter, to have cultural gatherings on the ancestral coastal beach villages sites which are now populated, and somewhat segregated, by multi-million dollar homes and the university. See more of Stan Rodriguez class.
The final presentations echoed this, as 4 master women teachers each with over 35 years of teaching, participated, witnessed, the presentations. “The youth told their story. They told the hardest story. Their life is real, our time is real, the youth feel for real” stated Communication Professor Dr. Olga Vasquez. Many do not put faces to the statistics which face Native community. To hear their story, articulated with strength was a relief not only to them, but forged a path of reconciliation, and step in the right direction on the sacred/university land we gathered on.
Delivery of Real good art, in which ever form, evokes all emotions and leaves one in a “good tired” state. I witnessed this on all levels, from touched master teachers to the 13-year old youth. In this work of indigenizing education, there can be no real measuring stick provided by the western educational way or thinking. Western education was not conceived with a holistic, indigenous, approach and have gone so far as to limit humans to 5 senses. In an indigenized educational way, a holistic approach uplifts the youth; counting, recording, measuring the outcomes can present a challenge.
What were the impacts, benefits and outcomes to the community?
A benefit of this project has improved on the need to increase a linkage between the Native American Community and the University of California system. The educational process and relationship is needed for both the university and the community. The historical and geographical positioning of the University sits on ancestral village sites and large burial grounds. There has been a long disconnect between the University and local community, although a connection must be reconciled.
Representing a land-based people indigenous to the area, InterTribal Youth curriculum (with NAC’s support) further forged a linkage between the University and the local Indigenous people, inching towards re-conciliation, both spiritually and educationally. During the summer program, InterTribal Youth pulled existing resources (university and reservation) together in order to bring a proper understanding to the indigenous story, the roll of indigenous science and to explore local anthropologic conflict.
A higher educational goal exists which is to identify and record historical contributions properly. This re-aligns a self-worth for indigenous people and provides a power of place within modern culture. With global climate change, drought, and natural resource preservation looming, it is more important than ever to overstand the roll of indigenous art and culture in connection to the land, science, and self-sustainable preservation.
The Inter-Tribal Youth / Young Native Scholars (ITY-YNS) initiative and module provides yet another way to engage with the theme of water, this time through the medium of storytelling and through theater and dance exploratory workshops and master classes.
This artistic module served several important goals:
- Provide a space on ancestral coastal territory (UCSD) for a residency to share cultural knowledge
- Experiment with and rehearse youth role as young educators and leaders.
- Open the grounds, doors, of the UCSD Department of Theater and Dance (one of the top-ranked in the nation) to young Native American artists, thus signaling that their voices are valued.
- Investigate, through oral, botanical, and geological history, indigenous ancestral village and burial grounds sites of UC San Diego.
Jacque Nunez has made a successful career out of sharing her Acjachemen (Southern Orange County) Coastal Ancestral Stories. She prides herself on preserving and passing her culture along through the oral Native American tradition of storytelling. Her storytelling career has become somewhat of a story in itself. After graduating USC, Jacque has shared her stories at Disneyland, Los Angeles and Anaheim Convention Centers, hundreds of schools, libraries, non-profit entities and also singing the National Anthem for large Southern California events. She is one of the most requested Artists from the Orange Country Performing Arts Center. While she continues storytelling at schools and large venues she recently taped and performed an original story on PBS Children's Television Show. While creating her original story for PBS she was inspired to create a new series of children's books. Jacque resides in San Juan Capistrano, California with her husband Ed Nunez and their children.
Sam Mitchell is Yaqui and proudly points to this name to help identify himself. "The world (in Yaqui, anía) is composed of five separate worlds: the desert wilderness world, the mystical world, the flower world, the dream world, and the night world. I have a relationship with my culture, one that I perceive as “Scholarship through the body” (as quoted by scholar, Julie Burelle) As I learn more about my culture, and gain access into the world that I thought I was not privileged to, I have especially learned the value of the dream world and think of dreams as a fertile place to distill the work and let the choreography of the day set into my bones." Sam Mitchell began dancing in 1990, at the University of California, Santa Barbara. As a choreographer, Sam has shown his work in San Francisco, Berkeley, New York, Los Angeles and San Diego. As a performer, Sam has danced with Santa Barbara Dance Theatre, touring the world with this company. He has also performed with The Patricia Rincon Dance Collective, touring with her company to Buenos Aires, Argentina and to Switzerland, performing in the TANZINOLTEN International Dance Festival, and at the Aula Rämibühl Theatre in Zurich.