Performing Defiance: The Hidden Legacy of Koto Music at a Japanese Internment Camp 

By Shirley Kazuyo Muramoto-Wong
Master Artist, Japanese koto (ACTA Apprenticeship Program 2016, 2014)
 
My grandmother, Masaye Ishikawa Hori, loved the sound of the koto. She could hear the Honnami family playing koto, shakuhachi (bamboo flute), and shamisen (3-stringed lute) in their barracks, right across her own barrack located in Topaz, Utah, one of ten World War II Japanese American internment camps. 

She thought it would be nice for her daughter to learn. She then asked Mrs. Honnami if she would teach my mom, but Mrs. Honnami said she didn't take students. Then my grandmother found Haruko Suwada, who lived on the opposite side of the camp. Topaz was a town of about 9,000 people, so it was quite a distance for my mom to travel for her lessons. She would sometimes hitch a ride on one of the open trucks going by to make her walk shorter to her koto lessons, which she attended two or three times a week.

Suwada Sensei taught her class using her own koto, since she didn't have any other instruments. I thought that was very big of her to allow a beginner (my mom was about 10 years old at the time) to use her koto. Suwada Sensei also taught her the koto songs all by memory, which is the way she taught her students.
Wilverna Reese, Karuk basketweaver. Photo courtesy John Pinson.

Weaving Native Futures at the California Indian Basketweavers' Association's 27th Annual Gathering
 
By Rebecca Tortes, CIBA

For over a quarter of a century, the California Indian Basketweavers' Association (CIBA) has worked diligently to increase the number of active California Indian basketweavers and to increase awareness of California basketry and Native California cultural traditions among both Native and non-Native audiences. CIBA was created out of a deep concern shared by a small group of weavers who feared that traditional basketry knowledge was rapidly disappearing and that soon living master weavers would cease to exist. Today CIBA has grown its membership to nearly 1,000 members from across the state of California and every member of CIBA's current 8-member Board are members of California Tribes, many of which work directly with their respective tribal communities.  As a member of the Cahuilla, the Luiseno, the Pauite, and the Assiniboine, I am proud to count myself as part of CIBA. 

Each year CIBA members such as myself look forward to our capstone event, the Annual Basketweavers' Gathering. This amazing three-day event brings hundreds of basketweavers together for a weekend of weaving and reconnecting with friends and family. A chance for humble bragging rights is provided to weavers who display their finished basketry projects in the Gathering's Basketweavers' Showcase. This year's 27th Annual Gathering was held June 23 - 25, 2017 at Autry Museum of the American West in Los Angeles. 

From the ACTA Archive: Lights On Music Video
 
In August, ACTA published a new report in partnership with The California Endowment's  Building Healthy Communities Initiative titled Building Healthy Communities: Approaching Community Health Through Heritage and Culture in Boyle Heights. Written by Dr. Maria Rosario Jackson and Citlalli Ch├ívez, this report is intended for anyone interested in better understanding how heritage-based arts practices can contribute to community empowerment, comprehensive neighborhood revitalization and better health outcomes.
 
The new report details a curated a series of workshops with community members from Boyle Heights, Santa Ana, Coachella and Merced, who joined together to discuss a piece of educational state policy, the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). The Collective Songwriting process, a signature pedagogy of Martha Gonzalez and the East LA rock band Quetzal, was used to engage community in a deep dive into LCFF and its implications for low income communities. Boyle Heights Cultural Treasures Martha Gonzalez and Gloria Estrada facilitated two separate workshops (one with adults and one with youth) to produce a broad-based vision for what the Boyle Heights Community understands about LCFF and what actions they feel need to be taken.
 
Above, see the music video that arose from the Collective Songwriting workshop.  Click here to see the Behind-the-Scene video on the Collective Songwriting workshop in Boyle Heights.

ACTA Staff and Board Convene in San Francisco

Folklorists, musicians, dancers, teachers, organic farmers, publishers, and lino block artists! Several members of the staff and board of the Alliance for California Traditional Arts convened on Oct. 2 for our quarterly board meeting. 

Back Row, L to R: Malcolm Margolin, Pimm Allen, Crystal Murillo, Lily Kharrazi, Amy Lawrence, Libby Maynard, Peter Pennekamp, Amy Kitchener. Front Row: Dan Sheehy, Patricia Wakida, Esailama Diouf, Charlie Seeman, Nikiko Masumoto, Antonio Delfino


Eighth Generation is pleased to announce the establishment of a national Native artist grant program, to be administered in partnership with The Evergreen State College Longhouse. The Inspired Natives Grant, funded by 5% of Eighth Generation sales, is a project-based grant for emerging Native artists who are pushing boundaries in the world of arts and arts entrepreneurship. Eighth Generation is looking for candidates who are expanding definitions of what it means to be Native and who go above and beyond to make themselves a resource to their community. Applications for all forms of visual, performance-based arts, media and literary arts will be accepted. Native artists who are residents of the United States are eligible for this award. Find more info on how to apply here
Deadline: October 31, 2017.

The Alliance for California Traditional Arts is the California Arts Council's official partner in serving the state's folk & traditional arts field.
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