As I speak with strangers, acquaintances, and new friends I have met during my time in San Diego, I am repeatedly met by blank stares when I mention I am involved in the field of Native American Law. Of course it’s a niche practice, and I would expect nothing less from citizens of a state in which the Native population is relatively small. But consider these facts about San Diego: it sits in a state with a larger American Indian population than any other; over 100 federally recognized Tribes call the state home; and, even more significantly, there are more reservations in San Diego County than any other county in the United States.
With that in mind, it was so very refreshing to see the San Diego Symphony’s production of “Your Song, Your Story” at the Marina Park on July 16th. As a multicultural, multimedia celebration of the various musical traditions present in San Diego, it was simultaneously succinct and wide-reaching—not any easy task to pull off with such a diverse population as that of the city. But the most successful aspect of the show was its full embrace of the often awkward attempt at over-inclusiveness from which many events like this suffer. It managed to strike just the right note, so to speak, throughout the program with song, dance, and storytelling, and the location by the marina couldn’t have been more idyllic.
Importantly, keeping in mind the aforementioned facts about the city’s Native population, the Kumeyaay Bird Singers were featured at the top of the program. They lead the symphony in a spirited opening number as a narration of, ironically, San Diego’s colonial history played over the loudspeakers. As far as juxtapositions go, there couldn’t have been a more rewarding one than that. I felt like a real San Diegan for that single hour. And so I would like to give many thanks to the San Diego Symphony and sponsors of the event for helping combat the ignorance about the city’s cultural history that is still prevalent. After all, the more we discover about the people around us, the more we may understand about ourselves.
Christopher is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and is entering his third year at the University of Oklahoma College of Law.
Ted is head of the Native American Law practice group and primary editor for the Blogging Circle. Connect with Ted at firstname.lastname@example.org and 619.515.3277.