Cochise Anderson Sees the Future Through the Past!

Posted By PowWows.com June 10th, 2015 Last Updated on: June 10th, 2015

Cochise Anderson!

Cochise Anderson!

Interview by Dawn Karima, Native Culture Editor

DK: You have so many talents and you use them in such a unique way! Introduce yourself to us, please, and tell us how YOU describe what you do?

CA: Halito, anchookma ikana-ma – Greetings, good to be here friends. My name is Cochise Anderson from the Chickasaw (Deer clan) and Choctaw (Raccoon clan) Nations of Oklahoma. (Okla – Houma is our language w/ Okla meaning Town and Houma meaning the color Red.) I am in my 26th year as a Native American cultural artist as an actor, playwright, spoken word performance artist, youth theatre director, traditional musician, blues musician and arts advocate. However, to be more to the point, l just tell people that I am a Traditional and Contemporary Storyteller.

DK: If you could collaborate on a project with anyone from the past, present or future, who would it be? Why? What do you think that your result would be like?

CA: I would like to be able to find a way to collaborate my Chickasaw grandmother, Catherine Willmond, who is one of the last first language Chickasaw speakers and was the primary source for the Chickasaw Analytical Dictionary, published by the University of Oklahoma Press and took over some 20 years to compile with her collaborator, Dr. of Linguistics, Pamela Munro of UCLA, where my “granny” has been teaching the Chickasaw language for 38 years!! I would like to document her life story that includes our family and tribal history, but also such things as being a keeper of tribal recipes, medicinal knowledge, beadwork and traditional music, clothing and stories. I already include many of her talents and insights in my performance art work to transmit her vital knowledge within an artistic environment, but really would like to include more of her specific stories because she is the last generation that experienced boarding schools, relocation and language revitalization. I would make sure that she would have input during the rehearsal process, because her eyes and ears are the ones that saw and heard. Che hullo le, U r sacred 2 me Granny!!


DK: You are such a strong Native artist! What do you like best about your culture? How does your culture manifest in your art and performances? Tell us something about your tribe that you think might surprise us?

CA: One of the things I like about my culture/s is that when I was teaching over in Choctaw, MS, some of the elders took me in and talked about our ancient tribal cosmology where everything in the Circle of Life was acknowledged and understood and within the context of using our Choctaw language. When you can understand and interpret your language with American English you can discover the thinking process of our ancestors. I have a character in my new performance piece, “Methods of Mass Deception,” that alludes to this approach to our tribal philosophy. What might surprise people about my okla in Choctaw, MS is that stickball aka lacrosse is such an important part of our culture, that there are up to 64 teams, with 30 players per team, that participate in the World Series of stickball that represent all eight communities and all ages and genders, sponsored by Pepsi Cola during the Choctaw Fair in July.

Native music and tradtion,too!

Native music and tradtion,too!

DK: Where can folks find you? Experience your art and talent? Connect with you and what you do?

CA: I am on FB under my name as well as you may view my live concerts, blues and spoken word w/ traditional music and my theatrical Performance Pieces on YouTube under MadArtist10i and under my name. For information on bookings you can reach me at: [email protected] ( FYI, Tushka is Warrior and Chaffa is Number 1!)

DK: What do you think is the importance of spoken word and performance art to us as Indigenous People? What are some of the themes and ideas you hope to convey to your audiences?

CA: Spoken word and Performance Art are contemporary manifestations of our Oral Tradition and in so are how our points of view are expressed and understood. Again, I like to able to navigate within both the Traditional and Contemporary storytelling styles to illustrate our powerful legacy from our ancestors to our families to our personal stories and that ultimately, we are all healers as artists.

DK: Anything else you'd like to share with us?

CA: The major revelation I have come upon as an Indigenous artist, is that WE, as part of The Circle of Life, have both – a RIGHT to be where we are and who we are, as well as understanding that right is forged with the RESPONSIBILITY of honoring the Creator, by respecting each other and ourselves with COURAGE and HUMILITY, and allowing that WISDOM to guide our hearts and to give our children a renewed vision of our legacy as authentic HUMAN BEINGS.

Blending multiple media, art forms and outlooks into a powerful Native voice!

Blending multiple media, art forms and outlooks into a powerful Native voice!

DK: Many thanks for sharing with us!

CA:Yakoki inkana-ma, Thank you, my friends!

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