All posts by Tessie Borden

Tessie Borden is a former newspaper journalist. She writes about the arts in light of the cultural and political history of the Americas, the American West and California.


Calaca Collective Adds Artist Perspective to ¡Vivan los Muertos!

This year's ¡Vivan los Muertos! celebration at the Autry on October 26 features Aztec feathered dancers, frosted sugar skulls, colorful folkloric costumes, offering-laden altars, and fancifully painted faces. In other words, the usual Day of the Dead stuff to celebrate the traditional Mexican holiday dedicated to ancestors and those who have passed.

A Politician Mouths Off, and a Play Is Born

A reading of the play "Stand-Off at HWY #37"
A reading of the play "Stand-Off at HWY #37"
It was a bit of cowboy swagger from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg that drove Tuscarora playwright Vickie Ramirez to write her latest play, Stand-​Off at HWY #37, part of the First Look series being presented in the Autry’s Wells Fargo Theater Thursday at 7:30 p.m. In August 2010, Bloomberg inserted himself into a dispute between Indian tribes […]

A Wedding Steeped in Tradition, History, and Hope

The newlyweds in the Gathering Circle.
The newlyweds in the Gathering Circle.
Wedding bells were ringing earlier this month at the Autry! On the evening of Saturday, August 17, Jackie Scahill and Powell Browne, surrounded by family and friends, exchanged marriage vows under the Council Tree in the Autry’s own Gathering Circle. That space has seen many kinds of ceremonies. This one was among the most recent and […]

Kateri Tekakwitha Canonization Confirms a Longstanding Indigenous Tradition

628x471 Kateri Tekakwitha CanonizationAP
Native American Christians have a special reason to celebrate this holiday season. One among them who lived in the 17th century was canonized as a saint by Pope Benedict XVI in October. Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, in life a young Mohawk/​Algonquin woman who began Catholic instruction in secret because of her family’s opposition to the teachings, has now been […]

Sen. Daniel Inouye Remembered

Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) in an official Senate photo (Wikimedia photo)
Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) in an official Senate photo (Wikimedia photo)
The remembrances for Senator Daniel Inouye, the veteran Democratic lawmaker from Hawaii, have been flooding the media since his death earlier this week at age 88. He is particularly esteemed in the Native American community for his advocacy on behalf of initiatives to protect Native American heritage, such as the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation […]

Heavenly Voices from the Barrio and Elsewhere in Los Angeles

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This year’s Las Posadas celebration at the Autry, scheduled for December 16, features the Harmonies Girls Choir, whose voices have graced stages as diverse as the Hollywood Bowl and the Basilica de Guadalupe in Mexico City. They will perform classic choral arias as well as traditional and contemporary Mexican songs dedicated to the Virgin Mary. […]

Virginia Scharff on the New Visibility of Women … in the West and Elsewhere

Virginia Scharff, the Autry's Chair of Western Women’s History (Photo courtesy Virginia Scharff)
Virginia Scharff, the Autry's Chair of Western Women’s History (Photo courtesy Virginia Scharff)
When Virginia Scharff thinks about how women have figured in the history of the West and of this country, all she has to do is take a look at November’s elections. On the campaign trail and at the voting booth, women made themselves heard in a way they hadn’t for decades. “Women made a huge difference in this […]

A Tale of Murder and Kidnapping in the Beautifully Desolate Utah Desert

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Chuck Greaves’ Hard Twisted is a novel that tells a brutal story, of a father murdered and a 13-​year-​old girl kidnapped by an ex-​con as he traveled through Oklahoma, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Texas during the Depression. The story is true — as true and as lurid as the tales of Jaycee Dugard and Elizabeth Smart. We tend […]