Cherokee citizen and actor DeLanna Studi met with students at Salt River Schools’ Accelerated Learning Academy (ALA) on January 16.
Studi was in the Valley for her solo act theater piece called “And So We Walked: An Artist’s Journey Along the Trail of Tears.” Studi, the niece of actor Wes Studi, performed the piece on January 17 at the Arizona State University Kerr Cultural Center as part of a national tour. Studi also visited Native Health in Phoenix.
At ALA, Studi met with about a dozen students for an hour. She talked about her acting career and her theater piece, which recounts a six-week journey when she and her dad retraced the route of the Trail of Tears, the forced relocation in the 1830s of thousands of Cherokee from their homelands to Oklahoma. Studi acts out 27 different people in the performance.
Studi encouraged the students to “reclaim our stories.” She broke the students into two groups for a storytelling workshop, where each group decided on a short act to perform for one another. She encouraged creativity and highlighted the long history of storytelling connected to Native people. For the Cherokee, Rabbit is a cultural hero, a trickster that has taught her people many lessons since time immemorial.
She encouraged the students to stay in touch with her and to reach out if they happen to be in the same area in the future.
“It’s our job to promote, support and celebrate each other,” she said. “Thank you for taking a moment to be brave and share your voice and story and allow us to be silly together as a team. That means the world to me. Remember that—when you get silly, the world opens up.”
To learn more about Studi and her theater piece, visit http://delannastudi.com and follow her on social media channels.