by Peter Morin and Tania Willard
Instructions for BUSH gallery Storymancy:
Indigenous knowledges intervene into western systems through spirit and intention. It is brave holding to – being accountable to – the deep histories of Indigenous knowledge(s). BUSH gallery Storymancy reorganizes our experiences with “the book.” Storymancy is a chance to imagine a new way of opening up the complexities connected to knowledge and knowing. There is no easy way forward. BUSH gallery Storymancy is a River moving through english words and pages.
To practice BUSH gallery Storymancy:
1. You find the “right” book. Hold this book in both hands. Calm yourself. Calm your mind. Create harmonic resonance with your body, the book and the land.
2. Next, locate your question. Ask this question out loud with intention. For example: “Vine Deloria, Jr., Vine Deloria, Jr., Vine Deloria, Jr., will we continue to build knowledges?” Close your eyes while asking the question.
3. Leaf through the pages of the book with your eyes closed. Stop on the page that feels right. Move your hand over the page. Stop your hand where it feels right on the page. And read the word, sentence, paragraph to infer meaning or find your answer.
BUSH gallery Storymancy works anywhere but works best on your traditional territory. Consider that traditional territories also include urban rezs, the friendship centre, your aunty’s house, your uncle’s house, your mom’s house, your dad’s house, your grandma and grandpa’s house.
Storymancy is one method of decoding Indigenous knowledge; it is a liberation for Indigenous histories to move outside of western structures. This use of BUSH gallery Storymancy remains a radical activation of body, land and future ancestors. These answers are meant to be interpreted. They are not endings but beginnings to increase your knowledge. Knowing this, we decided to use this method to read and review the following books:
The Days of Augusta edited by Jeane E. Speare; photography by Robert Keziere ( J.J. Douglas, 1973)
Virgin Bones: Belayak Kcikug’nas’ikn’ug by Shirley Bear (McGilligan Books, 2006)
Walking the Clouds: An Anthology of Indigenous Science Fiction edited by Grace L. Dillon (University of Arizona Press, 2012)
Smoke Signals: A Screen Play by Sherman Alexie (Hyperion, 1998)
The Only Good Indian: Essays by Canadian Indians edited by Waubageshig, Citizens Plus, The Indian Chiefs of Alberta (known as the Red Paper) p 5-39 (New Press, 1970)
Secwepemc – English Dictionary, Version 3 by the Elder’s Language Committee and Language Advisory Committee (Secwepemc Cultural Education Society, 2001)
Basic Tahltan Conversation Lessons (Tahltan Central Council, 1992)
We asked these books, these containers of knowledge, kinship and ancestry, the following questions:
What is Indigenous art?
We asked this to The Days of Augusta and Augusta said (page 37):
“They didn’t have a ceremony when a
man became a chief,
Anyway, I don’t remember a ceremony.
I guess they had their times, yes,
before my time,
I guess they did.
We had a Priest…
We had a priest who talked Shuswap.
He was an early, early priest, yes.
He died from appendicitis,
Or old age, or something.
Anyhow, he died.”
The BUSH wants to learn from Augusta that art is sometimes like a priest, a priest who speaks your language but ultimately that priest will die. I guess art also has its times and maybe some ceremonies, but we ultimately can only carry our own knowledge of those leaders, ceremonies and spirits that we are in relationship to. This is how we think about Augusta’s answers to our question.
How should we remember the ancestor artists?
We asked this to Simon Ortiz’s “Men on the Moon” (page 92) in Walking the Clouds:
“Later the spaceship reached the moon.
Amarosho was with his grandfather Faustin.
They watched a TV
Replay of two men walking on the moon.
So that’s the men on the moon,
Yes, Nana, there they are,
There were two men inside of heavy
clothing, and they carried
Heavy looking equipment.”
The idea of the moon and us is both an historical moment, an ancient story and a future possibility. Simultaneously existing in all times, we position this as a continuum of how ancestor artists inform our work at BUSH gallery. The heaviness is history and accountability.
Is there a difference between Indigenous art and Indigenous land?
We asked this to Virgin Bones: Belayak Kcikug’nas’ikn’ug (page 105):
“It is my belief that the first and final responsibility for all creation is the healing; the healing of the earth without whom we will not survive; and the heal- ing of our attitudes toward one and other, because without our love and respect, our descendants will not survive.”
I mean Shirley Bear just said it all, I am not sure I can tell you any more.
Do we all need to watch the music documentary Rumble?
We asked this to Smoke Signals: A Screenplay by Sherman Alexie (page 38):
During the sixties, Arnold Joseph was the perfect hippie, since all the hippies were trying to be Indians anyway. But because of that, he was always wondering how anybody would recognize when an Indian was trying to make a social statement. But there proof, you know? Back during the Vietnam War, he was demonstrating against it, and there was this photographer there. He took a picture of Arnold that day and it made in onto the wire service and was reprinted in newspapers throughout the country.
We think we should watch this documentary – ‘cause Sherman Alexie recognizes these echoes.
What is the next step for BUSH gallery?
We asked this to our Indigenous language dictionaries:
From Tahltan Language Conversations:
I want coffee
From Secwepemc – English Dictionary:
Smoked meat or fish sp’úm’llts’e
We are still re-learning our languages.
How is BUSH gallery interrogating western colonial spaces?
We asked this of The Only Good Indian
(e) Hear all other claims that Indian persons or tribes want to heave heard.
This is excerpted from:
“What Would a Claims Commission Do:
The Claims Commission could:
(a) Help modernize the treaties.
(b) Award compensation to aboriginal peoples who are registered Indians who have no treaties. The Royal Proc- lamation of 1763 issued following the acquisition of Canada by the British provided that no Indian could be dispossessed of his land unless with his consent and the consent of the Crown. This common consent was given in the treaties under which Indians were to be compensated for giving up their title to the lands.
©Examine the boundaries of reservations and recognize the need to include as a part of reserves the lakes that are on the edge of the reserves.
(d) Prepare draft legislation to overcome the bad effects of the Migratory Birds Convention Act and other improper restrictions on Indians fishing in lakes and rivers.
(e)Hear all other claims that Indian persons or tribes want to heave heard.”
This means we need to be good listeners and invite others into our circle and then protest, lobby, imagine and disrupt.
How do we write a BUSH gallery site/ation?
We asked this to Eden Robinson’s “Terminal Avenue” (page 207) in Walking the Clouds:
“His brother once held a peeled orange slice up against the sun. When the light come through it, the slice became a brilliant amber: the setting sun is this colour, ripe orange.
The uniforms of the five advancing Peace Officers are the robin’s egg blue, but the slanting light catches their visors and sets their faces aflame.”
Whoa, this answer is so good, the sun is already recording everything we do, in growth rings and cycles and lifetimes.
How do we take care of Indigenous knowledge?
We asked this to Virgin Bones: Belayak Kcikug’nas’ikn’ug (page 39), an excerpt from the poem “Links”:
Drinking coffee and thinking of you
Thinking of you
Coffee stains on my body