I was born in a bathtub in the middle of a War …

Truth be told I have no idea where I was born. The Sisters at the orphanage just told my parents I was found on the doorstep. I have always told stories since I was young. It’s in my blood and part of my soul. I like imagining my origin story is something amazing, but to be honest I wasn’t brought by a stork, I wasn’t created from a tear cried by the Great Spirit, nor was I birthed from the mind of Yahweh. Like everyone else on this wonderful blue orb, I had a mother and a father who gave me up for adoption when I was 10 months old.

I cross Over Borders, but I’m still There now …

from https://worldatlas.com

from Wendy Grande on Pinterest

My birth certificate says I was born in San Salvador (hey, E. Salvador … El Salvador, coincidence?), but the Sisters at the orphanage told my mother when she came to pick me up, I was actually born in Santa Anna. If you look at the map it may appear to be far away, but El Salvador is pretty small. Santa Anna is a little over 30 miles away. Not as far as you may think.

More importantly, I was born to the Indigenous Pipil Tribe in Santa Anna … one of the last of the Aztec Tribes before the Indigenous people start becoming Mayan (Lenca Tribe). El Salvador is special because it has both the great Aztec Nation and Mayan Nation within the country’s borders. Not bad for a country only 191 miles long. These great Indigenous nations were considered some of the most intelligent and creative civilizations on the planet. I’m not that smart, but I like to imagine my birth parents were because they gave me up to give me opportunities I might not have had if I stayed in El Salvador.

A rather tragic oversight of being Born Indigenous outside of the United States is that the government doesn’t recognize you as Indigenous. I wasn’t born into one of the 574 federally recognized tribes within the United States. Even if you were Indigenous and born within the United States you may not be recognized as Indigenous if you do not have a federally recognized tribal affiliation. You may not know … in order to be recognized as Indigenous (or Native American or First Nations or however you want to be identified) within the United States you are required to have a CIB card (Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood). If you don’t have the right Blood Quantum the government of the United States will not consider you Native American. There are only three things which are measured by Blood Quantum in the United States: Horses, Dogs and Native Americans.

Growing Up in the Land of The Shapshifter…

Agiocochook (Ah-Gee-Oh-Coh-Chu-k). This is a word most people reading this will never have heard of. It is the Abenaki (Ah-ben-nah-key) name for Mt. Washington. It is a landmark, along with the Old Man in the Mountain, which represents New Hampshire to the residents of the state. Even though The Old Man in the Mountain went to his final rest in on May 3rd, 2003, it is a strong symbol of the region not just to New Hampshirites, but the Abenaki and some Mohawk Tribes as well.

I grew up in Derry, NH, about 154 miles away from Agiocochook. I was brought to my new home in the summer of 1977 after my mother spent a week in El Salvador finalizing my adoption. I grew up with my mother, father, brother (3 years older), my younger sister (13 years older) and my older sister (16 years older). I am the youngest in my family … and also the brownest of the bunch. New Hampshire is not known for its minority diversity. When I arrived, and subsequently left, the minority population changed drastically.

I had an average childhood. I played outside, rode my bike, walked to the county store, and grew up without the fear of gun fire and murder that was prevalent in El Salvador. I went to school, made friends and lived a life devoid of fear. I created characters to play, performed for audiences whenever I could and loved making up stories for anyone to hear. The only difference between my childhood and my friends’ childhood was that I went to the beach to swim while they wanted to lay in the sun. That, my friend, is envy. I was asked once how I felt about being dark skinned. I responded, “We’re all bread of the Earth. God just chooses who he wants to put into the toaster.

The Old Man in the Mountain from Dennis C. Wheeler on Pinterest

My Mom and I from “my family scrapbook”

Living in Yutas between the LDS and the Ute …

Playing My Guitar at WABCON from “my family scrapbook”

Outside My House in Provo, UT from “my family scrapbook”

After high school, I spent a year and a half at the Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford, studying music education and vocal performance. Music was a big part of my life growing up. My mother put me in piano lessons when I was 6. I started taking percussion lessons when I was 10; drum set, mallet percussion and my absolute favorite, timpani. I sang in high school at Pinkerton Academy, went to all-state for voice all four years (even took top score my junior year), and was fortunate to be part of the All-Eastern ACDA High School Choir twice, a rare honor indeed. I performed in musicals, professional choirs, chamber ensembles and specialty choruses all through high school. I was destined to be in music, which is why after I left the Hartt School of Music I worked in computers.

I have always loved technology. I built my first microprocessor when I was in 6th grade for a science fair project, which I failed because my science teacher didn’t think I understood the math needed to program the processor. I built my first computer when I was eleven and had my first job developing databases when I was twelve. Computers came naturally to me. In 1996, I left New Hampshire and journeyed towards Utah, to hang out with my brother and start a different life. I stopped focusing on music and started working in computers as a Technical Writer, Senior Development Lead, and Senior Database Developer/Administrator.

In 2006, I left my job and became a Business Consultant helping companies achieve their next level of success, whatever that may be. I worked with startups, established companies looking to grow and Fortune 500 companies wanting to ensure their strategic place in the industry. I bought a home in Provo, UT, worked out of my home office, and volunteered at different non-profits. One of the places I volunteered was the local LDS Employment Resource Center, helping people find Employment Satisfaction. I love volunteering there and stayed for almost 17 years.

My time in Utah was exceptional, but there was something missing. Something in my journey I was supposed to accomplish.

The Land of Enchantment … My Current Path

When I moved to Utah, two things happened in my life. First, I turned my back on singing. It was no longer enjoyable and a lot of the people I was around made it no longer enjoyable. Second, I started to wonder more about my Native American Heritage. My parents wanted me to explorer it as I was growing up, but I didn’t care. I wanted to be like everyone else … people who didn’t care, nor know, about where they came from. We were focused on moving forward creating good lives for ourselves with the opportunities given. Once in Utah it was important to explore this cultural side because so many people misunderstood what it meant to be Native American. I started reading and listening to as much Native American themed content as I could. I started playing the Native American Wood Flute. I started going to schools teaching kids about Native American culture. I started finding an identity I never knew I had.

In February of 2020, right before the COVID pandemic shut down the world, I was going to open a Native American restaurant. The property agent, a real piece of work, asked for a business plan because I had no restaurant experience. I felt this was strange, but complied because I have wanted to open a restaurant since I was young. I called the agent to prepare the contracts and he told me the place had just been leased. Come to find out, a new restaurant owner just rented the space (I found out later the agent worked with a restaurant conglomerate and gave them my business plan). They opened a Native American themed restaurant 6 months later. I was extremely mad at this circumstance, but 2 weeks later in March the country shut down due to the pandemic. Things have a way of working out the way they should.

I needed a purpose for my life and didn’t know what that meant. For the next year I worked on several different projects, some Native American … some not. In 2021, I thought about where I was and what I wanted to do. I remembered an article I read in a magazine called Native Peoples that talked about the top 10 Tribal Colleges in the country. I re-read the article and discovered the Institute of American Indian Arts, the only Indigenous college in the world focused on art studies. I found they had a newly formed program Performing Arts degree as well as a Creative Writing degree with an emphasis in Playwriting. I had always wanted to write for the theater and, more importantly, write more Native American plays and musicals. Music was always important in my life. Theater has always been a love. Now I could combine both and hopefully find success creating new shows and experiences. After a visit to the school in August, I sold my house, put my things in storage, and moved down to Santa Fe, NM in November to start my life at IAIA.

E. Salvador with Native Wood Flute from “my family scrapbook”

Performing Arts Building at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) from “IAIA Photographic Views”

E. Salvador Discussing Story Structure from “my family scrapbook”

To the Future, To Our Vision, More Entrenched May We Become …

What does the future hold for me? I don’t know. I have several scripts in the works submitted to different organizations and competitions. My hope, like so many, is to have my worked performed in various venues. I would love to have a piece on Broadway. I would love Native American Theater to not be relegated to only “specialty theaters” but to have a place among performances in all spaces. I would love Native American Theater to be recognized for the power it is. I don’t know if I’m the person who will be there, but I am determined to create a path to make it possible. You can support me on that journey, or you can watch videos where I discuss Native American theater, or you can just read my thoughts and stuff on the Native American theater (or theater in general). This isn’t just my journey; it is our journey. And together we will venture into this exciting space, learn a few things and start a meaningful conversation.