Including the performances of such artists and activists as Winona LaDuke, Nahko Bear and Tanaya Winder, the first Dear Patriarchy event, held during the same week as the Gathering of Nations pow wow, aimed to shine light on art, music, and struggles from indigenous communities which needed support. Performances included speeches, poetry, songs, beat boxing, comedy, and dance all centered around the theme of indigenous resistance.
After you enter the Meow Wolf venue in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and journey beyond the entrance and ticket counter, you quickly realize that you’re in some type of a maze. It’s confusing and unusual, but definitely fun. As you explore the venue, the dark yet colorful, winding, twisting, art-infiltrated paths eventually lead you to a stage. On one particular night in April, that stage (and most of its audience) were comprised entirely of powerful, poignant indigenous people who were prepared to crush the patriarchy.
The sold-out event featured a line-up of performers who each shed inspiring new light on some of the struggles and triumphs associated with their lives, their communities, and their passions. The audience laughed, cried, and mostly cheered as each performer poured their heart into the microphone.
“The event created a much-needed space to celebrate and uplift Indigenous womxn,” said Tanaya Winder, one of the night’s performers, “It was amazing to see a sold-out crowd supporting the event and cause. My heart was full and I felt empowered by all of the performances.”
Here is an excerpt from poet Tanaya Winder’s performance:
"And who can tell what the real truth is when alternative facts are birthed in a colonial womb. But the revolution will never be won through patriarchy, or held in the fists or lips of patriarchal men. But it will be born from women who know how to carry movements in the womb of intertwining live.The revolution will be birthed from women who know that deliverance and delivery come from being ripped open in an unstoppable force that reminds us: Our most powerful weapons will always be giving life"
Here’s an excerpt from “Being,” performed by award-winning poet Tazbah Chavez:
I lied face and belly down
So the earth could coax my metronome
Back to her beginning
So our heartbeats could sync
So my body could remember
That her land has
More cuts and more bruises
More life and is more fluid
Than what I tell myself
I have endured
She conducted symphonies
Of new heartbeats
For us to live in line with
Stitching our DNA
With her blue veins into the fabric
Of looking ahead
Sewing with the next generation of mother’s
In her thread
The Dear Patriarchy event was organized by artist-activists Ginger Dunnill and Kim Smith, both of whom have years of experience in the arts, resistance movements, and community organizing.
To get a better understanding of why alternative social spaces like this are both needed and revolutionary, here’s an excerpt from ICMN’s interview with organizer Kim Smith.
Describe your motivation to organize this event.
Smith: For several years I have been organizing art events around the Gathering of Nations pow wow, mainly to counter the overpriced pow wow and the club-centered events. Hundreds of Indigenous people come from around the world to be in New Mexico each year. It is the perfect time to shine light on art, music or struggles needing support. The political climate really drove us to organize Dear Patriarchy. It's quite brilliant and I don't know why we haven't done this before. To showcase these amazing artists really is a dream come true.
How long did it take you to plan and execute this?
It took Ginger and I about 2 months. Everything really fell into place. The artists involved immediately agreed, as did the venue. Meow Wolf donated the space, sound, lighting and staff.
Was it a good turnout? Do you feel like your objectives were achieved?
I was super stoked about the turn out! [The show was sold out in advance]. We made ancestral foods for the performers, we displayed slideshows centered around indigenous resistance throughout the venue, we made zines and patches, we hosted live screenprinting, we had elders present to offer prayer, plus the space that is Meow Wolf is an attraction in and of itself.
The performers were incredible! To see them all perform and speak from the heart and give patriarchy, white supremacy and capitalism the middle finger was inspiring and liberating! It was vital for us to gie our LGBTQ relatives the spotlight as well. I am so proud of the organizing, dismantling, resisting, singing, poetry, music, art, dance, skirt shaking and planting that came from this event.
Did you have a favorite performance - one that particularly moved you?
They were all incredible! What I did realize is that we are all growing into our "auntie" roles. Rose B. Simpson did an amazing job, reminding us that the children are watching, and that the way we live and treat each other reflects on them. That's a teaching that our matriarchs have always instilled in us.
Will you host this event again in the future?
We hope to make this an annual event! These types of events are vital! We have to create and reclaim spaces, especially during a time that allows for the exploiting of our people and culture through capitalism.
At the event, you offered some powerful words to the crowd regarding the sacredness of water. Please describe for the readers how the importance of water is relevant to the Dear Patriarchy idea.
How we treat our water is how we treat ourselves. How we treat the water is how we treat our women. Without water and women there is no life. Patriarchy normalizes the abuses, patriarchy profits off of the abuse, we are at a critical time. we must ensure that this abusive cycle stops! The survival of our children depends on it.
According to Kimberly Smith, ticket sales revenue from the Dear Patriarchy event were donated to non-profit organizations and community organizers independent from states and international governmental organizations. The organizations supported by Dear Patriarchy are as follows:
NO Haul Uranium, Haul No! - An indigenous collaboration focusing on protection of Indigenous communities from radioactive contamination.
Michael Bowersox- A water protector facing felony charges, Michael Bowersox has been cooking with Seeds of Peace for decades, providing nourishment and community-building for social movements across the country. He has also been involved in countless direct-action campaigns for 30+ years, protecting mountain tops, roadless wilderness, sacred sites, justice and liberation for all peoples and the planet.
Zapatista Liberation School - An indigenous based learning school in Chiapas, Mexico.
More amazing performance photos by Thosh Collins.