Performances, Indigenous Cooking Demonstration and More Announced for WE THE PEOPLES BEFORE

The First Peoples Fund and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts have announced the full lineup for We The Peoples Before, a festival of events designed to explore and explore profound truths and reflections on history and experience. of the indigenous peoples of this country. Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy Center and the 25th anniversary of the First Peoples Fund, We The Peoples Before is a collaboration in recognition of the rightful place of Indigenous cultural practices as a central influence on the national arts and culture landscape. in the USA. States.

The three-day event will include performances, workshops, film screenings, a cooking demonstration, talks and a multi-disciplinary stage production at the Eisenhower Theater featuring some of the greatest Indigenous performers and storytellers of our time.

The festival will take place at multiple locations on the Kennedy Center campus, including REACH, and will run from June 30 to July 2, 2022.

“Through this unprecedented partnership, the Kennedy Center hopes to demonstrate and redouble our commitment to honoring and supporting Indigenous peoples and their essential contributions to arts and culture,” said Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Vice President of the Kennedy Center and artistic director of Social Impact. “Our collaboration with First Peoples Fund is the first in a series of social impact residencies that we hope will serve as a guide for innovative work changing the way we interact with audiences, social systems and artists. “

“We are humbled by the Kennedy family’s longstanding ties and relationships with Indigenous communities. We hope that through this partnership, we can carry this legacy forward as we center the healing, strength and joy of Indigenous communities at We The Peoples Before. ‘” said Lori Pourier (Oglala Lakota), president of the First Peoples Fund.

Free panels, films and multi-genre performances on the Millennium Stage

To highlight the cultural and artistic contributions of Indigenous communities, We The Peoples Before will feature panels and conversations focused on Indigenous languages, culture, poetry, history, art, tribal sovereignty and food. Festival activities also include an outdoor film screening and mini-film festival featuring short films by six Indigenous filmmakers, as well as performances on the Millennium Stage featuring energetic Indigenous hip-hop artists. and traditional hula dancing.

The Main Stage Event

The culmination of the We The Peoples Before First Peoples Fund’s celebration at the Kennedy Center will be a one-night-only, multi-generational, multi-genre production that will take audiences through the past, present, and possible future of an Indigenous people. An America rooted in history and place, and grounded in the spirit, the land, and the principles of true democracy. Produced by Lori Pourier (Oglala Lakota) with consulting producer Marc Bamuthi Joseph and directed by Roberta Uno, the production will be structured in four movements with a finale and closing coda. The journey follows the East, South, West and North directions, ending with the interdependence of Heaven and Earth. On stage, nearly 50 Indigenous dancers, hip-hop artists, poets, singers and spoken word artists will tell a carefully curated story celebrating the beauty, strength, resilience and profound truths of this country’s Indigenous peoples and their communities. This performance is free but prior registration is required.

Educational Events

The companion to the three-day festival is the We The Peoples Before Education & Impact initiative. Designed to engage thousands of students and bring Indigenous culture, history, and stories to the forefront of American education, specialized programs and materials will be introduced over the weekend and officially launched and distributed to schools. across the United States this fall. A first of its kind, developed by a diverse team of Indigenous educators, the program challenges educators and students to learn more about Indigenous peoples from first contact to the present along a path that includes dispossession, adaptation, recovery and resilience, taking students on a learning journey that allows them to know, honor and share authentic, accurate and positive representations of Indigenous peoples. Featured performers in the program will include Alfred “Bud” Lane III, vice president of the Siletz Tribal Council and the Northwest Native American Basketweavers Association, who works tirelessly to ensure cultural continuity as a dedicated teacher of the language. and traditional Siletz practices. Also included is Lani Hotch, a Tlingit weaver who has transformed the small, ancient village of Klukwan, Alaska through her work restoring tradition and culture, creating woven art that communicates identity through relationships with the land, people, animals and plants.

We The Peoples Before will embrace today’s cultural momentum toward equity and justice, centering the diversity of Indigenous nations, cultures, languages, histories and experiences of tribal communities. Join us to know, honor and share Native America. Learn more here:

We the peoples before the programming schedule

June 30-July 2, 2022

All events are held at the Kennedy Center unless otherwise specified.

For tickets and full schedule, visit the Kennedy Center website here

Languages ​​and Tribal Arts Panel | It’s a story the stars remember

Thursday, June 30 at 1 p.m.


Panelists will discuss language revitalization efforts and the importance of language for cultural survival.

Tribal sovereignty | It’s a story the trees remember

Thursday, June 30 at 4:30 p.m.

Legal Forum

A panel discussion that takes an in-depth look at tribal sovereignty and what it means today.

We the peoples before outdoor movie screening

Thursday June 30 at 8:30 p.m.

Film wall, REACH

We the peoples of before

Friday, July 1 at 8 p.m.

Eisenhower Theater

The multidisciplinary stage production features top performers and storytellers reframing the country based on a vision of justice and shared humanity. This performance is free but prior registration is required.

First Peoples Fund Culture Carriers | It’s a story his hands remember

Saturday July 2 at 10 a.m.

Legal Forum

A conversation with First Peoples Fund Community Spirit Award winners and culture bearers.

Indigenous foodways

Saturday July 2 at 11 a.m.

Skylight Pavilion

A cooking demonstration and discussion with Sioux chef, Sean Sherman (Oglala Lakota).

Panel of Poets, Spoken Words and Writers | This is the story that the lands remember

Saturday July 2 at 12:30 p.m.

Legal Forum

A conversation between three generations of Indigenous writers and poets about what inspires their writing and what it means to put words to paper and play.

Indigenous Arts and Ways of Life

Saturday July 2 at 2:30 p.m.

Legal forum

An in-depth artist conversation about how art and culture are essential to life.

Millennium Stage Performance: Indigenous Hip-Hop

Saturday July 2 at 6 p.m.

Grand Foyer

Energetic performance from some of India Country’s emerging hip hop artists as they weave the traditional with the contemporary.

Millennium Stage Performance: Traditional Hula

Saturday July 2 at 7 p.m.

Skylight Pavilion

The traditional hula dance, or old-style “kahiko” hula dance, is the original dance of the Native Hawaiians (Kanaka Maoli).

We The Peoples Before Short Films Screening & Panel

Saturday July 2 at 8 p.m.

Legal forum

A screening of six thematically aligned short films on We The Peoples Before, followed by a moderated discussion with the Indigenous filmmakers.


All events are FREE, but some require advance reservations. Pre-bookings will be available on Wednesday, June 15 at 10 a.m.

For all Millennium Stage shows, a limited number of advance reservations are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Customers who book in advance must check in at least 15 minutes before their performance time, after which their reservation will be made available to walk-in customers. Complimentary tickets will also be available on the day of the performance 30 minutes prior to performance time, and walk-ins are encouraged. For performances in REACH, please register at the reception pavilion box office. For performances on Millennium Stage North or South, please register with the Hall of States box office

Nohemi M. Moore