Kin Theory brings musician Jeremy Dutcher and Nia Tero fellows together with KEXP at the 2023 Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF).
by Michelle Hurtubise
(This article was originally published on Nia Tero and has been reprinted under an agreement.)
We were gathered outside the Seattle City Center on a beautiful, sunny day in May having an invigorating discussion with acclaimed Two Spirit musician Jeremy Dutcher (Wolastoqiyik member of the Tobique First Nation, and a classically trained composer and ethnomusicologist), when the crows joined us. Making space for their cawing reverberations, Dutcher paused, then said, “I want to acknowledge that my clan just showed up.” How true. We laughed, then dove back into conversation, speaking over the airplanes and nearby construction, but pausing when necessary for the birds, for our Kin, making space for the many relations creating this thriving Indigenous soundscape.
On Friday, June 23, from 4 to 8 p.m., the second annual Indigiqueer Festival will take place in celebration of Pride month and Indigeneity at Pier 62. The festival sets itself apart from other Pride events in that it has been organized by and for Seattle-area queer Indigenous people, with a drag show, art market, and food vendors.
Since time immemorial, Indigenous people have celebrated storytelling as a way to connect the present to past lessons and future dreaming. Narrative sovereignty is a form of land guardianship, and Nia Tero supports this work through its storytelling initiatives, including the Seedcast podcast, as well as in this column for media partner the South Seattle Emerald.
My name is Amelia Filohivalu Yvaana Kami, but I commonly go by Mia Kami. I am Tongan. Both of my parents are Tongan. My mom comes from the main island, from the villages of Kolomotu’a and Hofoa, and my dad is from Haʻapai, which is an outer island. I’m currently based in Suva, Fiji, where I just completed my studies in law and politics at the University of the South Pacific (USP). I am a singer. A songwriter. A new graduate and job-seeker. A daughter. A sister. A woman of the Pacific.
In 2018, a cousin of mine reached out because she was involved in an anti-logging campaign in the Oro Province of Papua New Guinea, and her group needed an anthem to motivate the team while inspiring awareness about these issues in the world and building momentum for their campaign. It was a smart decision. Art communicates and motivates in a way that data and speeches do not, merging the heart and the head. I was honored to be asked.
When I’m in the early stages with a song, it’s just me and my guitar. I start with a theme and some chords, then let the melodies and the words flow, recording myself so that I don’t lose anything good. With this anthem, I didn’t want to be too obvious, so I stayed away from lyrics like “deforestation is bad.” Luckily, pretty early on, I found the word “rooted,” and it just stuck. “Rooted” became the center and title of the song.