All Indigenous Ways of Relating Events

“The place names you see on a visitor map aren’t just meaningless. They hold power and they tell a story. What stories are they telling? Are they stories that represent justice or do they represent oppression?”

Ecologist Bonnie McGill, PhD, discusses “Words Are Monuments,” a quantitative analysis of 2,000 National Park place-names categorized according to various forms of settler-colonial violence.

More info:

“We talk about colonial powers coming in and renaming the world around us. It’s like cutting a ribbon. It’s an attempt to destroy your relationship with that place, that power that’s there. It’s part of that genocidal policy, to destroy who we are within. Because who we are inside reflects how we relate to earth outside. And if you have a belief system where the earth deserves to be respected, it structures the way you think and you feel.”

Lummi Nation elder, organizers, and Master Carver Jewell James discusses how place-names and language serve to structure a way of relating to the world around us.

More info:

In July 2021, the House of Tears Carvers of the Lummi Nation transported a 25-foot totem pole from Washington State to Washington DC, stopping at sacred and historic places under threat from dams, climate change, and resource extraction. As the pole traveled, it drew lines of connection — honoring, uniting and empowering communities working to protect sacred places. It carried the spirit of the lands it visited and the power and prayers of communities along the way — ultimately delivering these prayers, power and demands to the Biden-Harris Administration and Congress in Washington DC, and culminating in an exhibition at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.

More information:

This video features conflicting perspectives on the Dakota Access Pipelineā€™s impact to cultural and sacred sites from the State of North Dakotaā€™s Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO), andĀ theĀ Standing Rock Sioux Tribeā€™s Historic Preservation Officer (THPO). Their conflictā€“relevant to the Tribeā€™s ongoing lawsuit challenging the pipelineā€“illuminates some of the deeper tensions at play in struggles to protect sacred places: a clash of irreconcilable ways of understanding and relating to the land, and what happens when the Stateā€™s perspective has been codified into federal law and the input of Tribal Nations as sovereigns is disregarded.

For more than a decade, the House of Tears Carvers and members of the Lummi Nation have traveled across North America with totem poles to raise awareness about threats to the environment and public health. As the poles travel, they draw a line between dispersed but connected concerns, and help to build an unprecedented alliance of tribal and non-tribal communities as they stand together to advocate for a sustainable relationship between humanity and the natural world.

Kwel Hoyā€™: We Draw the Line was a cross-country tour, traveling museum exhibition, and series of public programs uplifting Indigenous leadership in struggles to protect water, land, and our collective future. With this journey, the totem poleĀ entered a museum for the first time. Charged with the stories of resilience they have picked up on their journey across the country, the pole connected the museumā€”and the museum publicā€”to the living universe in which they are enmeshed.

More information here:Ā