Native American Rock Opera Presents REAL Appropriation

Appropriation has nothing to do with makeup and hairstyles. It's about our rich American history looking like a bloody crime scene. It all began with Colonization, Human Trafficking, and Genocide.

How is it that most American's have no idea how our country came to be?  With exception to a few things.  We learn about the Pilgrims, then Columbus, our Founding Father's, our President's, we memorize our States and their Capitols.  At what point do we learn about the people that already existed right here in the America's?  At what point do we recognize that there have been American's for centuries, who lived and thrived right here on this land, LONGER than any other civilization has.  America (the civilization) after all, has existed for about 240 years.  But 240 years is a drop in the bucket for Native American's, whose history has spanned for THOUSANDS of years on this land.  

Native American Rock Opera "Something Inside is Broken" (which just completed a successful West Coast Tour) is exactly what it says it is.  A tragic historical account of the people who lived and thrived here on the American continent before colonization, before civilization.  It's an honest look at how women and children bore the brunt of the suffering, being forced into slavery.  It's NOT an honest look at how today's youth and young adults are concerning themselves over cultural appropriation and entitled claims on how non-indigenous people shouldn't wear face paint and headdresses.  It's NOT an honest look at how non-blacks shouldn't be allowed to wear corn rows.  If anything, it's just the opposite.  The production team has turned an absolute blind eye to racial stereotypes and considers cultural appropriation to be a first world concern. Natives play Whites, Non-Natives play Natives, Blacks play Slavers, and Whites play the Slaves.  Director Jack Kohler (Hoopa Valley Tribe) received some heat from Native cast members who who were irritated that Non-Natives were wearing face paint, and playing Natives.  For instance, Sammy Cee, born in Hong Kong, was cast as a Native, a Slaver, and a Soldier.  The idea is to NOT follow Hollywood's White washing of media and entertainment.  And in order to combat stereotypes and end racial discrimination, the answer is NOT to exclude non-Natives.  The answer is to take the high road.  We cast who we cast because they have the skills necessary to fill the part(s).  And this story is intended to speak from a human level.  

From now on, the production team will be inviting and offering discounts to middle schools to all their future shows. They are the perfect audience, in that they are unafraid to laugh, cry, fall in love, get angry, boo, and be engaged in the dialogue.

"I didn’t create the project as some big guilt trip. I'm a descendant of these survivors and I want to help share the story...In our current society, social justice dominates the conversation.  In the older Nisenan teachings preservation of the land and life's cycles is the basis for status as a noble person.  Being able to survive on the land is one of the first things taught to children." says Creator Alan Wallace; the play is based around the Nisenan tribe, who survived famine, enslavement, disease, 52 years of homelessness, and systematic extermination.

At it's core, "Something Inside is Broken" is a Rock Opera.  It tells the truth how it is to those who lived through it, without any apology. The main villain is historical Icon John Sutter, who's name has been plastered on streets, hospitals, and monuments turned into tourism vistas all over the Greater Sacramento Area.  Kids learn about Sutter in 4th and 5th grade history.  Field Trips are taken to Sutter's Fort, where children and families can learn about all the exciting things about the Gold Rush.  But what is learned about the Natives who lived and died here because of the Gold Rush?  What is learned about the many women and young girls (some as young as 10) that were kept at the Fort as Sutter's sex slaves?  None of that is taught.  And that's a REAL problem, according to director Jack Kohler, Stanford Alumni and Media Arts Teacher.  "We hope to rewrite the history books.  We hope to help tell the whole truth, so that we can teach our youth, and ultimately shift our values." Production team management of the Rock Opera have stressed, that the social commentary in the play is more about how society values money, gold, and gain over human life.  And that's an issue worth discussing.  That's the dialogue the production hopes will inspire reflection.  For the love of humanity, don't waste your time worrying about what makeup, hairstyle, and dance number is appropriate for whom and what race.  

The play promotes education and perspective understanding as central themes.  There are obvious good guys and bad guys, but don't come looking for the PC police.  The last show of the West Coast tour, held at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido had a row of 5th graders, and according to the cast and production team, they were the highlight of the tour.  They laughed at all the jokes, especially the "inappropriate" ones, and they just seemed to get it.  From now on, the production team will be inviting and offering discounts to middle schools to all their future shows.  They are the perfect audience, in that they are unafraid to laugh, cry, fall in love, get angry, boo, and be engaged in the dialogue.  They are unafraid to be human, and they don't feel sorry for it either.  They aren't overly sensitive, they aren't PC, and they certainly aren't stuffy.  And that energy and dynamic helps the rest of the audience relax, and enjoy the show.  It's a tragic story, but it's still fun, entertaining, filled with beautiful music, dance, and acting.    

More information on the play at

Source: On Native Ground

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