Canadian Inuit throat singers Kathryn Merritt and Charlotte Qamaniq.
Photographer unknown

Beyond language: indigenous art and expression

The remaining Idyllwild Arts Academy Native American Festival week events continue to look at how the many layers of language and artistic expression result in rare and unique connections not easily translated across cultures.

• Noon to 1 p.m. Thursday, June 28: Kabotie Lecture Series will feature pre-eminent filmmaker Randy Redroad’s “Through a Mythic Lens: A Native Filmmaker’s Journey,” at the Krone Library.

• 7 p.m. Thursday, June 28, is film night at the Krone Library featuring a film by Randy Redroad, who will host the evening screening.

  • 7 p.m. Friday, June 29: The week’s highlight will be performances by the Mountain Cahuilla Bird Singers, and Canadian Inuit Throat Singers. Led by Bill Madrigal, the Bird Singers will open the evening by welcoming guests to the gift of bird singing given by the elders through oral teaching. The second act will offer the very rare opportunity to experience a Katajjaq performance by Inuit throat singers Kathryn Merritt and Charlotte Qamaniq from Nunavut, Canada.

Katajjaq is a unique call and response form of traditional art found among the Inuit. A pastime between girls and women for thousands of years, these extraordinary songs and lullabies express emotions through the interpretation of sounds of animals, nature and tools.

Performed while looking into one another’s eyes and holding one another at the elbow maintains the connection. Their blended voices, metered a half step off, create a compelling, mesmerizing and intimate cultural strength for the Inuit people, only passed through direct experience.

• Noon-2 p.m. Saturday, June 30: Members of the Chia Café Collective, Tongva elder Barbara Drake, Craig Torres, Abe Sanchez and area archeologist Daniel McCarthy, will have a book signing of their new book “Cooking the Native Way” in Nelson Dining Hall, while in residence teaching a native plants class (registration required for workshop).

• Native food tastings by Chef Freddie Bitsoie, executive chef, National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institute, will be provided after all events.

Sponsors of the festival include the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, Anonymous Foundation, Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, Chickasaw Nation, Tribal Alliance of Sovereign Indian Nations, The Soboba Foundation, Cahuilla Band of Indians and San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians.

Festival consultants are Joe Baker, director, Palos Verdes Art Center (Delaware); and Gerald Clarke, Jr. (Cahuilla), artist, assistant professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Riverside.

The festival’s program director is Heather Companiott and program coordinator is Kelly Kinder (Yurok).