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Performing Arts

Community Concert Hall hosts evening of music, storytelling

Delbert Anderson and a jazz ensemble, along with Washington state’s sixth Poet Laureate Rena Priest and others, will present an evening of music and storytelling with “Welcome to Indian Country.” (Courtesy)
‘Welcome to Indian Country’ celebrates Indigenous culture

The Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College will be a place of celebration of Indigenous culture Thursday night when musicians and storytellers take the stage for “Welcome to Indian Country.”

The performance will feature Music Director Delbert Anderson (Navajo/Diné), a jazz ensemble, Washington state’s sixth Poet Laureate Rena Priest (Lhaq’temish (Lummi) Nation) and others. It’s directed by Jude Candelaria.

“Welcome to Indian Country” is brought to the stage by Indigenous Performance Productions, whose mission, according to its website, is “to produce, promote, present, manage and advance education around Indigenous performing arts and artists.” IPP was founded in 2015 by Andre Bouchard.

“The idea was generated by Andre (Bouchard), the producer, and he wanted to create something that celebrates just Indigenous people entirely,” said Anderson, who lives in Farmington. “He got together a lot of artists he was working with or knew of, and he brought them all together and we sort of just see what we could create.”

Anderson said this isn’t the first run of “Welcome to Indian Country” – different artists have contributed to other performances, which leads to unique collaborations, especially this time around with the addition of the poetry component, courtesy of Priest.

If you go

WHAT: Welcome to Indian Country.

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. April 25.

WHERE: Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College, 1000 Rim Drive.

TICKETS: $30-$45.

MORE INFORMATION: Visit https://tinyurl.com/5aj26ebp.

Depending on who is in the group, it definitely changes the show,” he said.

Along with Anderson, Priest and Candelaria, “Welcome to Indian Country” also includes, according to the show’s news release:

  • Chantil Dukart: Dukart is from the Eagle clan, according to the production’s biography. She is the granddaughter of Anna and Cecil Barnes and a descendant of the T’simshian and Sugpiaq (Aluutiq) Indigenous People of Alaska. Through the lens of her ancestral roots, personal experiences and contemporary influences, she writes and produces a blend of pop and jazz music.
  • Sondra Segundo-Cunningham: Segundo-Cunningham is a multifaceted artist and Haida Language Warrior. She comes from a long, unbroken line of Yahkw Jáanaas – Haida Raven Clan Matriarchs. Her grandparents were both fluent in the Alaskan Haida dialect. Her family would go home to Alaska every summer to visit Sondra’s great-grandmother, Náanaa Stlaay, the clan Matriarch, who lived to be 104. She is a cultural educator and a published author and illustrator of three Haida children’s books. In 2018, she was discovered by tribal band, Khu’éex’ which is based in Seattle and sings in the Tlingit and Haida languages. She also produces music with her husband and has released three albums.
  • Ed Littlefield: Littlefield is a freelance percussionist, educator, and composer based out of Seattle. He is Shaakindustóow (Lingít) from Sitka, Alaska, and has released three albums featuring traditional Native melodies, which he also arranged into the jazz idiom with the Native Jazz Quartet. For film, he composed a song for the 2009 Disney movie “The Proposal” for Betty White’s character and played the percussion score and consulted on Indigenous music for the 2022 documentary “Exposing Muybridge.” Currently, he is working on a three-year project to create the first ever Lingít opera, which will combine traditional contemporary Lingít melodies inside the western opera genre and will also include an all-indigenous cast.
Washington state Poet Laureate Rena Priest will perform during “Welcome to Indian Country” at the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College. (Courtesy)

“We are really trying to celebrate the idea of just being Indigenous people,” Anderson said. “That sort of was the common goal when we all came together. I know there will be songs that are inspired by some of the past and maybe more traumatic events, but the way we perform it would be in the more sense of, you know, we got through.”


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