Our new Artist in Community program, in partnership with Dare Arts and the National Park Service, gives Outer Banks artists the opportunity to demonstrate their crafts or perform their arts in our Outer Banks national parks!
Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your background in art.
I am the author of “Hope on Hatterask.” My song, drum, dance, and poetry are mostly rooted in my traditionally adherent indigenous culture. I am a descendant of Mattamuskeet and Machapunga people from Hyde County, North Carolina. Since much of that original culture was lost after English contact, I have learned powwow dances from the Plains natives and drumming and songs from many other indigenous peoples. But I have composed a few songs myself in Algonquin dialects and in English.
What do you strive to convey in your work?
I frequently include aspects of “Kah haay seena hah kee,” our Mother Earth. I combine this with the commonality of all human beings in a sort of universal indigeneity concept I call “Indigen-us.” My goal here is to engender a moral obligation within my audience to live in a righteous relationship with both Mother Earth and with each other.
Where do you find your inspiration?
From the deep emotions that are stirred in me either from generational or individual pain or the simple overwhelming happiness I feel from a beautiful “Saay Ku” (Sunset) on Pampico Sound.
What do you enjoy most about living in the Outer Banks?
The pristine natural beauty and awesome power of “Pampico Tetamuk” (Pamlico Sound) and “Kee tah hee khan” (Atlantic Ocean).
Why are our Outer Banks national parks important to you?
The national parks designation and concomitant management authority of the National Park Service are the only things standing between the preservation of the incredible natural beauty here and a destructive wave of overdevelopment.
Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
My ancestral spirits have led me on a path of diversity that in some ways is truly unique. After surviving 74 winters and two cancers, I am blessed to be here, and I have a moral obligation to share the wisdom of that journey. Artistic expression is one of those vehicles.
Gray Michael Parsons is a senior adult who was born and raised in Washington, North Carolina. But after graduating from East Carolina University, he spent most of his life in Maryland and a few years in New England. He is retired and a resident of Frisco, North Carolina, located on his beloved Hatterask Island. Although his primary identity is as a traditionally adherent indigenous man (Mattamuskeet/Machapunga), his ancestral roots also include Scotch-Irish and West African. His diverse mosaic is reflected in his first book “Hope on Hatterask” and in his poetry. His public song and dance experience has been primarily as an indigenous powwow dancer and drummer/singer. However, his own compositions of song and poetry reflect a deeper more personal belief focused on his life-long love affair with “Ka hay seena hah key” (Mother Earth) and the promotion of his own creation, a concept he calls “Indigen-us”.
The two are inextricably linked and have become a primary mission for Gray. At the core is a belief that all humans have indigenous origins. All of our ancestries include people who at some point in their development understood and practiced a deep reverence for that which sustained their lives. This included the recognition of and respect for Creation as a whole but also of the individual key elements that worked in unison such as Sun, Water, Land, Moon, Flora/Fauna, etc. Therefore, all people have the ancestral right and moral obligation to align themselves in balance with Creation and to see themselves as “Indigen-us”. This opens the door to a better understanding of our relationship with, and our responsibilities to Mother Earth. Gray’s tapestry of of readings, poetry, and song are often audience interactive and reflect the inclusive “Indigen-us” concept. It can be a unique experience with positive sustainable outcomes for all “who have ears” for Gray’s art with a purpose.
Amazon | “Hope on Hatterask“