Livestream spotlights disability and chronic illness in Indigenous arts
On Sept. 15, 2020, Crushing Colonialism and the Disability Visibility Project will be sponsoring Indigenous Spoonies Revolt! Disability & Chronic Illness in Indigenous Arts. The unique event brings together Indigenous artists from the United States and New Zealand for a virtual discussion on disability representation, empowerment, advocacy, healing and solidarity.
“Indigenous Spoonies Revolt serves as a place to uplift our disabled and chronically ill Indigenous creatives”, says Jen Deerinwater, founder and executive director of Crushing Colonialism. “This is a space to share our art, but also our stories of pain, discrimination, and lack of disability access within and outside Indigenous communities. This event also highlights our resilience as a people who have survived hundreds of years of genocide.”
According to the National Council on Disability, an estimated 22 percent of American Indian and Alaska Natives experience disabilities, the highest rate of any racial or ethnic group in the U.S. They have the least access to culturally relevant programs and services.
In New Zealand, the Ministry of Health estimates that 26 percent of Māori people experience disabilities. Like their Indigenous counterparts in the U.S., they suffer from the highest disability rate and deal with restricted access to culturally sensitive programs and services.
For the Indigenous peoples of the United States and of New Zealand, these health disparities directly correlate to the unique and complex historical, political, and social circumstances they find themselves in due to colonization. It is crucial to discuss how colonization and discrimination contribute to the disproportionate rates of disability, as well as the erasure and misrepresentation of disabled Indigenous peoples.
“Native people within the so-called U.S. have the highest rates of disabilities and chronic illnesses, yet we are often left out of disability justice-related conversations, if those conversations are even being had,” says Deerinwater, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation.
“Our relatives on other lands don’t fare much better,” adds Deerinwater. “The COVID-19 pandemic has served as a glaring example of the healthcare and disability access inequities we suffer.”
Indigenous Spoonies Revolt is an opportunity for panelists, Frank Waln (Lakota), Tony Enos (Cherokee), and Kera Sherwood-O’Regan (Kāi Tahu Māori), to share their art, stories and discuss the intersectionality of their histories and struggles.
“So often our stories are taken from us, used in ways that further the colonial project (even unintentionally), or in ways that do not honour our own sovereignty as powerful storytellers ourselves”, says Sherwood-O’Regan. “I think it is so important to have spaces to share our stories, and our approaches to storytelling outside the colonial context and gaze. I am so looking forward to sharing space with other indigenous creatives navigating how we share our art, stories, and ourselves on our own terms.”
Indigenous Spoonies Revolt! Disability & Chronic Illness in Indigenous Arts will be streamed here on Sept. 15, 2020 at 7 p.m., respectively, in New Zealand and on Eastern time in the United States.
About Crushing Colonialism
Crushing Colonialism’s mission is to uplift and tell the stories of Indigenous people through multi-media work while supporting those doing the work. Our collective is founded and operated by Indigenous people working in a variety of media fields across the world. We work to increase the pay and employment of Indigenous media makers while also promoting their work, providing funding for media projects, and increasing access to professional representation. In doing this we control our narratives in order to crush colonialism.
About Disability Visibility Project
The Disability Visibility Project is an online community dedicated to creating, sharing, and amplifying disability media and culture.