“I have been exploring what it means to be a contemporary indigenous artist living in a western paradigm.”
As an emerging indigenous artist, it is my responsibility to explore what it means to be an artist, story-teller, and the responsibilities that have to come with it. Since the beginning of my acting and writing career in 2012, I have been exploring what it means to be a contemporary indigenous artist living in a western paradigm. Through my written works, I have attempted to tackle topics such as indigenous political activism, inner-city group home living, living on and off the ‘reservation’, the epidemic of suicide in indigenous communities, and what it means to be a “city indian.”
Through these lenses, I have been provided opportunities that have allowed me to explore such topics with a great microscope. I’ve written over 6 plays-collaborative and individual-acted in a number of new stage-plays, old stage-plays, and screenplays that have been written and directed by First Nation artists. Learning to collaborate with like-minded artists is not only a community-driven endeavour but a step I am taking to bringing together indigenous (and non-indigenous) voices that might not have been heard otherwise. Asking the questions that deconstruct societal scripts in which I(we) have inherited growing up in a small rural town in Alberta, a reservation, and a city. My aim of work is show others my age, and whichever other age I may be able to reach out too, that you can achieve growth in yourself and around you for your community by excelling and moving with that in which inspires you. Mahsichogh (Thank you in Denesuline)
Taran Kootenhayoo is a playwright and actor from Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation living in Burnaby, B.C.