by Adam Piron
I’ve been thinking a lot about time over this past year. In Western European cultures, there’s the idea that the future lies in front of us and the past lies behind. But for the Kiowa, my own tribe from Oklahoma, it’s something like the other way around. And that makes sense, because we can’t see the future. We’re taught in this country to think of movement through time as analogous to physical movement. The present moment means nothing in physics, as time is merely another dimension, and the whole universe exists “now,” a word that has no meaning. There is no word for time in Kiowa.
Every November, when Native American Heritage Month comes around, we’re encouraged to look back and to celebrate how far our communities and certain luminaries have come, and the paths they’ve forged for us to take on further into the future. This is a noble and worthy sentiment, but I think it would also behoove us to apply a logic beyond the confines of the Gregorian calendar system, one that recognizes and realigns Indigeneity and its accomplishments on its own terms and conditions. Perhaps something closer to an Indigenous concept of time or, at the very least, something shaped to the contours of how it fits across many of our cultures — as something circular, a loop that feeds off of and back into itself.
Throughout the history of Sundance Institute’s Indigenous Program, our support for Indigenous artists has been built on a similar concept of cyclical force. We believe in taking Indigenous artists and their work to Indigenous communities to find other Indigenous artists in need of support, and once their work is ready to be seen then taking it back to communities to continue to circle. Similarly, many of the artists that we have supported through our efforts have gone through other channels of support within our program, within the Institute, and beyond. These efforts have been built over and by generations of other artists and their communities. This continues to be a collective effort, one where we honor the work of others that laid the space for where we are and one where we are also able to form further and without limits.
In kicking off this month, we will further highlight just a few of the many artists and their accomplishments over this past year and just how far they’ve come and will continue to go. We celebrate these artists and their work yesterday, today, tomorrow, and across the boundaryless dimension we’ve come to call time.
Here are some of the opportunities they have forged for themselves and each other, as well as new horizons our program will add to these efforts:
Sundance Institute Receives $4 Million Endowment Gift From Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria; Largest Endowment Gift in Nonprofit’s History Will Further Opportunities for Indigenous Talent From California Tribes