By Kaylea Berry/Reporter
OKMULGEE, Oklahoma – An inter-tribal collaboration of Indigenous artists and scholars will present three site-based projects as part of the Yellowstone Revealed event, occurring in Yellowstone National Park at the end of August 2022. The event will celebrate Yellowstone National Park’s 150th anniversary and highlight the relationship between Indigenous people and the land. Dr. Kirsten Kunkle is a Mvskoke citizen performing during the celebration.
Dr.Kunkle is a Mvskoke Operatic Soprano, co-founder, and artistic director of the Wilmington Concert Opera in Wilmington, DE. Dr. Kunkle met Dr. Shane Doyle, Mountain Time Arts advisor, during the Intermountain Opera Bozeman concert in May 2021. Dr. Doyle reached out to Dr. Kunkle to participate in the All Nations Teepee Village performance.
The All Nations Teepee Village symbolizes a new era of Indigenous inclusion and representation in Yellowstone National Park using twelve teepee lodges and fifteen teepee rings. Tribal representatives will share their cultural knowledge about the past and current relationship between YNP and Native people. Dr. Kunkle will perform a piece called “Reclaim the Land.” The song was written, composed, and will debut with the anniversary performance.
This piece is specific to Yellowstone and speaks on the desire and support of Indigenous people collaboratively coming back and bringing our culture back to the land. Dr. Kunkle mentions the beauty of Yellowstone and everything happening around it, and also briefly the hindrances that have kept native peoples from the land. These include water not being considered valuable, removal of our people – Indian Removal Act, hair cutting – boarding school assimilation, and Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW).
“The tribes are important, and we need to make sure that people realize that,” Kunkle said. “It’s not just beautiful geysers and amazing wildlife. It is the people who inhabited that land.”
According to Kunkle, the Yellowstone Revealed event is a great way to explain the history and importance of the land and the Indigenous people that inhabited it.
The All Nations Teepee Village performances begin at 8 p.m. on August 23 – 25 in Madison Junction, and native artworks will also be displayed. Yellowstone Revealed is free and open to the public but requires a park pass to see events within the park.