A Little Piece of Unity

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  • A Little Piece of Unity 1999

    Performed at the Performance at the End of the 20th Century Festival, Vancouver BC.

    An unconventional multi-media storytelling that recorded and reflected on aspects of my relationships with my horse and the community of the long-distance traditional ‘Unity Ride’. I retell some of my experiences on the ride, with focus on a fall from my horse, and my temporary ‘blindness’. My ‘fall’ and its reflection of the relationships surrounding are expanded to symbolically address broader issues of damage and healing.

    Various actions relating to these experiences unfold within a tipi aglow with the light of an interior video monitor. The tipi surface is also ‘painted’ with projections of both still and moving images of the Unity riders, me and my horse, and archival photos of Indigenous people – mostly with their horses.

    The piece begins with me lying on a deer hide, with round stones bandaged to my eyes. In this ‘blind’ state, I slash the tipi covering once in each of the four directions. I remove the stones from my eyes, then carve small, pointed, cedar ‘spirit offering’ sticks and suture the wounded tipi surface with them.

    A recorded narration of the story of my fall plays while I take these actions. Throughout the work I also sing a number of traditional songs that relate to the experiences in the story.

    Once the tipi is ‘healed’, audience members are invited inside to sit and hold the edges of the raw deer hide, creating a taught surface. I climb onto this communally maintained platform, and once suspended, sing the White Buffalo Calf Woman song - an old song about the return of the buffalo, and a kind of anthem for the Unity ride.

    Finally, I leave the tipi, and the people inside, to do what they will. They took this opportunity to use the taught deer hide as a trampoline, playfully bouncing the freed stones that had been wrapped over my eyes.