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September 29, 2023 | Theatre,

A Note From David Howse and Ronee Penoi on We Are The Land

ArtsEmerson couldn’t be more excited to welcome patrons back to the Cutler Majestic Theatre for the opening of our 13th season with We Are the Land from Wampanoag Nation. Over the past few years, ArtsEmerson hs been intentional in our efforts to re-story the traditional American narrative. Restorying is the act of rewriting our shared history and values so that it represents all people, so that we can see who we are, and where we’re going. If we want to change our world, we need to change our story–and that means centering those whose story has yet to be heard.


We Are The Land is the story of what it means to be Wampanoag. The Wampanoag, or Wôpanâak, are one of many nations who lived with the land long before any Europeans arrived. There were originally sixty-nine tribes in Wampanoag Nation – there are three surviving tribes today. This production features generations of peoples from the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, Herring Pond Wampanoag Tribe, Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head Aquinnah, and Nipmuc Nation. The Wampanoag people have been stewarding their land for over 10,000 years across several eastern states, including Massachusetts. After the onset of colonization, their land was taken and their voice was silenced for over four centuries. In We Are The Land, audiences will hear directly from Wampanoag people telling their story of their relationship to the soil, how it was taken away, and how the nation has re-established themselves in a way that both honors their ancestors and looks toward the next generation. It is a powerful story of the Wampanoag experience and a story of perseverance, resilience, generational healing, and hope.

Why does it matter to hear this story? If we want to build a better future, we must understand how our present is still tethered to colonization. Colonization is not an event, but the structure we still live in today. Many of the performers in We Are The Land are not professional actors. They are actual elders and tribal members. They are historians, communications professionals, artisans, and students. Success for this project does not look the same as for a play on Broadway- success here is the rare and pivotal storytelling of history by those who have, and continue to be, erased from it.

This collaboration to bring We Are The Land to Boston has been in the works for several years. We are incredibly grateful to the multi-talented cast of Wampanoag artists, actors, historians and storytellers, and to Mashpee Wampanoag tribal members Siobhan Brown, Hartman Deetz and Miss Kitty Hendricks for making this possible.

We Are The Land runs at the Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre for a limited run from September 29 to September 30, 2023.

Photo credit: Randall Garnick

2 responses to “A Note From David Howse and Ronee Penoi on We Are The Land”

  1. Liz Clayton says:

    Do you have suggested resources to learn more about the Wampanoag tribes, past, and present? This was mentioned at the end of the 9/29 performance and I’m trying to find them on the ArtsEmerson Notes about We Are The Land.
    As a tour guide in Concord, MA giving Indigenous People tours, we’re interested in resources to help us tell this history.
    Thank you for this amazing performance!

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