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  • When I was four years old,

  • my dad taught me the Taos Pueblo Hoop Dance,

  • a traditional dance born hundreds of years ago in Southwestern USA.

  • A series of hoops are created out of willow wood,

  • and they're threaded together to create formations of the natural world,

  • showing the many beauties of life.

  • In this dance, you're circling in a constant spin,

  • mimicking the movement of the Sun

  • and the passage of time.

  • Watching this dance was magic to me.

  • Like with a time capsule,

  • I was taking a look through a cultural window to the past.

  • I felt a deeper connection

  • to how my ancestors used to look at the world around them.

  • Since then, I've always been obsessed with time capsules.

  • They take on many forms,

  • but the common thread is that they're uncontrollably fascinating

  • to us as human beings,

  • because they're portals to a memory,

  • and they hold the important power of keeping stories alive.

  • As a filmmaker and composer,

  • it's been my journey to find my voice,

  • reclaim the stories of my heritage and the past

  • and infuse them into music and film time capsules to share.

  • To tell you a bit about how I found my voice,

  • I'd like to share a bit about how I grew up.

  • In Southern California, I grew up in a multigenerational home,

  • meaning I lived under the same roof

  • as my parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents.

  • My mother is Dutch-Indonesian and Chinese with immigrant parents,

  • and my father is Ojibwe

  • and an enrolled tribal member

  • of the Prairie Band's Potawatomi Tribe in Northeastern Kansas.

  • So one weekend I'd be learning how to fold dumplings,

  • and the next, I'd be traditional-style dancing

  • at a powwow,

  • immersed in the powerful sounds of drums and singers.

  • Being surrounded by many cultures was the norm,

  • but also a very confusing experience.

  • It was really hard for me to find my voice,

  • because I never felt I was enough --

  • never Chinese, Dutch-Indonesian or Native enough.

  • Because I never felt I was a part of any community,

  • I sought to learn the stories of my heritage

  • and connect them together to rediscover my own.

  • The first medium I felt gave me a voice was music.

  • With layers of sounds and multiple instruments,

  • I could create soundscapes and worlds that were much bigger than my own.

  • Through music, I'm inviting you into a sonic portal

  • of my memories and emotions,

  • and I'm holding up a mirror to yours.

  • One of my favorite instruments to play is the guzheng zither,

  • a Chinese harp-like instrument.

  • While the hoop dance is hundreds of years old,

  • the guzheng has more than 2,000 years of history.

  • I'm playing the styles that greatly influence me today,

  • like electronic music,

  • with an instrument that was used to play traditional folk music long ago.

  • And I noticed an interesting connection:

  • the zither is tuned to the pentatonic scale,

  • a scale that is universally known in so many parts of music

  • around the world,

  • including Native American folk songs.

  • In both Chinese and Native folk,

  • I sense this inherent sound of longing and holding onto the past,

  • an emotion that greatly drives the music I create today.

  • At the time, I wondered if I could make this feeling of immersion

  • even more powerful,

  • by layering visuals and music --

  • visuals and images on top of the music.

  • So I turned to internet tutorials to learn editing software,

  • went to community college to save money

  • and created films.

  • After a few years experimenting,

  • I was 17 and had something I wanted to tell and preserve.

  • It started with a question:

  • What happens when a story is forgotten?

  • I lead with this in my latest documentary film,

  • "Smoke That Travels,"

  • which immerses people into the world of music, song, color and dance,

  • as I explore my fear that a part of my identity, my Native heritage,

  • will be forgotten in time.

  • Many indigenous languages are dying due to historically forced assimilation.

  • From the late 1800s to the early 1970s,

  • Natives were forced into boarding schools,

  • where they were violently punished if they practiced traditional ways

  • or spoke their native language,

  • most of which were orally passed down.

  • As of now, there are 567 federally recognized tribes in the United States,

  • when there used to be countless more.

  • In my father's words,

  • "Being Native is not about wearing long hair in braids.

  • It's not about feathers or beadwork.

  • It's about the way we all center ourselves in the world as human beings."

  • After traveling with this film for over a year,

  • I met indigenous people from around the world,

  • from the Ainu of Japan,

  • Sami of Scandinavia,

  • the Maori

  • and many more.

  • And they were all dealing with the exact same struggle

  • to preserve their language and culture.

  • At this moment, I not only realize the power storytelling has

  • to connect all of us as human beings

  • but the responsibility that comes with this power.

  • It can become incredibly dangerous when our stories are rewritten or ignored,

  • because when we are denied identity,

  • we become invisible.

  • We're all storytellers.

  • Reclaiming our narratives and just listening to each other's

  • can create a portal that can transcend time itself.

  • Thank you.

  • (Applause)

When I was four years old,

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B1 US TED native music heritage chinese folk

【TED】Kayla Briët: Why do I make art? To build time capsules for my heritage (Why do I make art? To build time capsules for my heritage | Kayla Briët)

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    簡韋樵 posted on 2018/01/31
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