Karen White – Artist Statement, History and Philosophy
This is my Duty; This is my Fire
My paternal Grandfather was Northern Salish, according to the late Elder Ellen White, of Snuneymuxw, I am related to her late husband, Douglas White, through my Grandfather, Bernard. My paternal Grandmother is Tuscarora and Scots, from New York State. My maternal Grandmother was a fierce Scot from Paisley. My maternal Grandfather was Chippewa. According to the Governement of Canada, I am a non-status Indian. At nineteen I was adopted into the Daklaweidi Wolf Clan by the Grant family of Carcross/Tagish First Nations.
I have been reading and writing as long as I can remember. I never felt at home anywhere. Writing takes me where I have not been.
I began exploring poetry and short stories when I was thirteen. I could not get it right, so transitioned from poetry to song writing. I was a professional singer/songwriter for nine years, interviewed and recorded by CBC North for years. I performed my works live for decades. The archived CBC North recordings are still played on CBC across the country. I never stopped writing the short stories.
I wrote my first novel, ‘Seahawk and Red Drum' in the early two thousands while working at the Victoria Native Friendship Centre.
I attended the Banff Centre Indigenous Emerging Writers program in 2011, The Indigenous Writer’s Program in 2013, and Fables for the 21st Century, 2018.
I penned ‘The Silence’ in six weeks afterward. A prequel, ‘Bonewalker’ was drafted in 2015 and published 2023.
My first play, ‘Satan and Jesus do Chinatown’, was chosen by Victoria’s Intrepid Theatre as part of their 2015 ‘You Show’. It played to sold out audiences in July 2015. It was beautifully directed by Los Angeles Fringe Director/Actor/Playwright Mark Hein.
I wrote a prequel to the play, called ‘Creator Interview with an Unconceived Child’. It was highlighted in the 2016 Belfry Theatre ‘Twenty-Sixth Annual Playwrights Cabaret.’ I have recently finished a full-length piece called 'A Conspiracy of Ravens, in which to first two plays will be scenes. The play was used recently in the University of Victoria Masters in Theatre
program as an assignment.
My poetry has been published in 'Out of Bounds Magazine', and short stories selected in anthologies published by Exile Publishers, Degenerate Literature, Raven Chronicles, and in a compilation by the Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre.
I performed a scheduled public reading at the Raven Chronicles anthology celebration on July 1, 2016, in Seattle, Washington. Public readings include Banff Centre 2011, 2012, and 2013, including an 'Alberta Festival of the Arts event), and The Victoria Native Friendship Centre "Celebration of the Written Word with Aboriginal Authors", June, 2016.
In March 2017 I was commissioned by the Belfry Theatre to write and perform a ten minute piece. "Mohawk Air" ran for ten shows in four days, all sold out. I was extremely honored to receive an Indigenous Arts Award from the Hnatyshyn Foundation in May, 2017.
The body of my work includes a short story collection, and seven novels.
Inspiration comes from years in the deep silence among the Tlingit-Tagish people in the wild landscape of the Yukon. Three years among the Shona of Zimbabwe filled me with joy, rhytm and life.
My teachings, all I witnessed, lives in the writing. My Northern Salish, Duklaweidi, Tuscarora, Chippewa and Scots blood and bones lay right there in the pages. Home is there. In the words.
What I do when I am annoyed.
The Old Martin D-18
Rehearsal'Satan and Jesus do Chinatown' Intrepid Theatre, Victoria BC
city of victoria cool interdisciplinary arts evening by janet rogers
'A Conspiracy of Ravens'.