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From long before recorded Western history to the present, the Indigenous peoples of the world have engaged in ceremonies and communal performance activities – the White Earth scroll, the corroboree, the potlach – that could not without diminishment be called ‘theatre’, but are certainly performative and might, from a Western perspective, be called festivals. This chapter asks what it might mean for scholars to consider festivals to have begun, not in the competitive framework of the Festival of Dionysus in ancient Greece, but in the relational context of Indigenous ‘internation’ exchange. It traces the history of trans-Indigenous festivals, interrupted by colonization, to the present day, visiting Indigenous cultural festivals in Australia and the Pacific, and ending with accounts of Native Earth Performing Arts’ Weesageechak Begins to Dance (Toronto), Full Circle Performing Arts’ Talking Stick Festival (Toronto), and Kaha:wi Dance Theatre’s Living Ritual Festival (Toronto).
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