Walking Turtle Island

Mar 1, 2012

Image by Lori Fagerholm

Ever heard of Turtle Island?

Is that from a Disney film, you ask. A magical, secret place in one of the gazillion shows on Nickelodeon?

You’ll have to go further back than that, I’ll tell you. A lot further back, even before cable television. (Did your child just gasp?)

It seems at one point in time, long, long ago, there was a great flood, and all would soon be lost. But a turtle, who was obviously endowed with unearthly amounts of compassion and courage, worked herself slowly, steadily, and determinedly down into the depths of the earth. After quite some time, and with time running out, she returned with mud on her back. The “Great Mystery” blew on this mud, it spread, it stuck, and thus the continent of North America came into being—and humans were saved from extinction.

Walking Turtle Island, a one-man show at the Autry National Center, will be performed by storyteller Robert Owens-Greygrass, who is of the Lakota nation (as well as of French and Irish heritage).

Yet, this may not seem like a one-man show. Greygrass depicts 22 characters in all, from a grandfather to a mixed-blood sun dancer, from a boy who’s lost his dog to an 80-year-old Ojibway woman. He even portrays Iyeska, a “trickster and spirit guide who moves through centuries and inhabits various spiritual ‘skins.'”

Greygrass will also be performing Ghostlands of an Urban NDN. (NDN? Yeah, we didn’t know, either. It’s slang for “Indian.”) This piece follows Robert, “a multiethnic-non-specific-lower-middle-class-urban-NDN” as he finds his way through the urban landscape.

These two works were launched last year at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington D.C., and then performed for the Festival of First Nations in London.

Walking Turtle Island & Ghostlands of an Urban NDN
Opening Night, Saturday, March 3rd at 2 p.m.
Autry National Center, 4700 Western Heritage Way
Thursdays-Sundays through March 18th
Tickets: $20 students/military/seniors; $20 general admission

or call 323.667.2000, ext. 299



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