Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Urban Indigenous Futures

I am continuing steadily through "Me Artsy" by Drew Hayden Taylor.  I found a lot to think about in the essay "For Sisters" by Karyn Recollet.  As part of her PHD, Recollet she interviewed a number of indigenous hip hop/rap artists.  She speaks of these artists as working to "...spread Indigenous knowledge to create ways of moving us forward beyond present realities and spatial realms towards a future Indigenous condition..."  She highlights to the relevance of this work to urban indigenous lives and suggests that it is simultaneously documenting, "...our journeys into the future."  This language resonated particularly recent post on a couple of artists who are imagining what indigenaity might look like in a post-colonial world. 

Recollet  sees these forms of cultural expression as challenging current stereotypes of indigenaity, especially the one related to the static nature of indigenous culture.  She believes the working through these concepts can be a means of retaking our urban spaces.  Incidentally most of which are indigenous lands.  This  point also made me think back to a review I did a couple of weeks ago, looking at the possibilities for indigenous peoples in these urban spaces.  In that view it was important to challenge the idea that every indigenous person will find themselves by returning to their remote homeland.  That author challenged this concept arguing that some indigenous peoples may already be there, that this home may no longer exist or that it may not be a good place to be.

The nature of rap/hip hop, Recollet argues, with its roots in the fusion of sounds and visual images, can inspire each of us to imagine the remix in our own lives and to consider how these elements come together to create our urban identities.  She goes further, "This jumping off point produces a moment that allows us to reflect upon the ways that we use capitalism and commodities to express our own complex Indigenaity."  This actually brings me back to one of my favorite posts which explored how to bridge this dichotomy.  I want to show I am Indian/Métis, so I buy stuff to show that, which potentially undermines the ideas of indigenaity, especially where it enters into the capitalist and consumerist spaces.  I found my answer in the works of Judith Butler and Kent Monkman in their work on the conscious creations of per formative selves.  I think this performativity really does matter.  Passing someone on the street wearing their Neechi Geer, Tammy Beauvais clothing or beautiful beaded item, and there is a moment of recognition.  Even in the rush for a morning coffee, I am aware of these brothers and sisters working in the towers around me.  What I hang of my ears and wear on my body feels like it can really matter.  It can spark a conversation, bring pride or be a reminder.  This benefit is not even accounting for the value in supporting indigenous artists.

Recollet sees that in the creation and viewing of rap /hip hop, we can reclaim and occupy spaces that were perhaps previously taboo as well as those that are emerging.  Through this process we can produce a vision of the future which encompasses complex and lived indigenous realities.  We can perform and critique ideas of the authentic, historical versions of ourselves .

Recollet closes by speaking to the creation of, "a space of radical decolonial love," when love can encompass all the unique facets of ourselves, while supporting a full acceptance of difference.  She sees this a space where we appreciate each other for what we are and what we bring to the world.  In doing this we can come together to imagine and create new possibilities for existence.  For this to happen, she argues we will need to reject ideas like hetero-normativity, current ideas of ownership and ideas about bodies.  This rejection, she says, would support the development of a more inclusive vocabulary of relationships.  It would allow for radical self reflection and  a challenging of the role of colonization (internal and external) in the lives we live.  She closes with a quote by artist Peter Morin who asked, "Where do you carry your sacredness when you have been exiled?"  She responds that Hip/hop and rap are part of the practice that can bring us closer to home and as a "practice of embodied sovereignty."

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