We The Peoples Before
July 17, 2023

We The Peoples Before

One Year Anniversary

Last summer, we reclaimed our spaces in the ancestral lands of the Nacotchtank, Piscataway and Pamunkey lands (also known as Washington, DC) during the 25th anniversary of the First Peoples Fund. At The Kennedy Arts Center, world renowned for creative arts over the last 50 years, we showed and shared our cultural lifeways and diversity as Indigenous Peoples with the public.

First Peoples Fund Board President Sherry Black (Oglala Lakota) says that We The Peoples Before celebrated film, theater, performances like spoken words, and music. It was also a way for the First Peoples Fund to correct the stereotypes of Native Peoples through the performing arts and how the theory of Indigenous Arts Ecology, which leads our work, is reciprocally linked to the worldviews and cultures of who we are as cultural bearers and artists.

Being on the board for First Peoples Fund for over a decade, Black adds that the nonprofit carries on the momentum of the work of the National Congress of American Indians, which had coined the phrase, “We Are The People Before We The People.” Black tells of how FPF pluralizes ‘Peoples’ to include global Indigenous peoples and the hard fights of changing and recognizing our demographic as peoples instead of generic labels of identifying Indigenous populations.

“It is a recognition that we're humans,” Black said. “So many people don't understand the different meanings behind all this. And art is part of everything. We cannot separate it.”

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