Movement Research Performance Journal has recently published my new essay "MATAO: Queerly Navigating Indigenizing Creative Practice" in their latest issue "Sovereign Movements: Native Dance and Performance". The piece speaks to my experiences in Queer, Black, and Native communities that constellate me identifying as Matao and the ways that it can be productive for reclaiming Matao creativity. Order the issue here!
Movement Research announces Issue 52/53 of its print publication, the Movement Research Performance Journal. Continuing to experiment with approaches to engage contemporary performance through the medium of print—poem, prose, essay, narrative, image, and interview fill these pages.
With and through the site of this publication, various editors, writers, contributors, and artists consider the place of dance and performance in the contemporary moment. For this issue, Sovereign Movements: Native Dance and Performance, guest editor, choreographer Rosy Simas invited writer, Ahimsa Timoteo Bodhrán, to work with her.
Together they assembled contributors from Native and Indigenous communities to reflect upon their practices, the historical conditions out of which they operate as well as movement, performance, and choreography as a socio-political project.
Perspectives range from a variety of subjectivities, dispelling any notion of an absence of Native and Indigenous voices in the movement and performance art community.
The contributions in this issue contend that not only do these voices exist and flourish, but they have been speaking and innovating since before most discourses historically featured in the Performance Journal. Just as it is important for physical institutions to acknowledge that they sit upon occupied land of Native and Indigenous people, so too must institutions of history, practice, and epistemology acknowledge their occupation of knowledge and memory.
The cover and back cover of this issue invoke the history and intentionality of the Two Row Wampum Treaty from 1613 made between the Haudenosaunee and Dutch settlers. Two Row Wampum (back cover) is a living treaty—a way for people to live together in peace and respect and to ensure that people meet to discuss issues that emerge. Merritt Johnson’s Border Wampum (front cover) is a physical and symbolic tool for action against colonial borders. The pattern of jagged white lines in a dark purple ground references the jagged cutting apart of land and Indigenous life by colonial borders opposed to different ways of life flowing smoothly side by side.
Several of our contributors have provided works of poetry reflecting upon their experiences and practices. Heid E. Erdich contributes an original poem—Skins, Forms, Flows, Tones—as well as five responses to the Rosy Simas’s work Weave. Poet Max Wolf Valerio shares two excerpts from performances and one written work exploring queer indigeneity and identity and the assumptions placed upon the trans and Native body.
Poet Jewelle Gomez offers two poems that focus on the queer Indigenous experience as it runs parallel to a genocide history of displacement and land abuse. Other contributors have chosen to use the interview form with collaborators or colleagues to present an intersubjective or dialogic reflection. Simas and Bodhrán begin the issue with a discussion of what it means to feature Native and Indigenous bodies and labor now and how this work is both a political and personal expression.
Gerald Clarke and Michelle H. Raheja converse about their memories and interactions with the recently passed Payómkawichum, Ipi, and Mexican-American artist James Luna. Artist Maria Hupfield speaks with John Hupfield (Waaseyaabin) and Deanne Hupfield as well as Sm Łoodm ’Nüüsm (Dr. Mique’l Dangeli) and Goothl Ts’imilx (Mike Dangeli) about their respective Native dance practices and the traditions they keep alive or recreate in the wake of erasure from North America’s settler colonial governments.
Tanya Lukin Linklater explains the conception and content of her 2017 work How we mark land and how land marks us. Lukin Linklater also speaks to Megan MacLaurin about how land use/land treaty, the concept of the “national” park, and feminism undergird her work and politics. Rosy Simas interviews Christopher K. Morgan about his leadership at Dance Place in Washington D.C. and his practice as a Native Hawaiian dancer. Zoë Klein and Sam Aros Mitchell reflect on creating work in the space of the bifurcation of identity that results from the legacy of adoption in Indigenous communities and the plurality of racial identities.
Dancers Anthony Aiu and Kaina Quenga use the form of the Polynesian talk story to explore their individual practices, the cultural translation that results from pursuing their Hula/Polynesian dance outside of Hawai‘i, and the activist projects they are both a part of. Several contributors have decided to use the essay form to express personal narrative or strategies of resistance and survival. Iakowi:he’ne’ (Melissa) Oakes discusses her practice and family history as it has been conditioned by generations of colonial and state violence.
Karyn Recollet and Emily Johnson co-author an essay about their hybrid concept of “kinsillatory gylphing” and Indigenous movement practices that allow for new possibilities of relationality. María Regina Firmino-Castillo, Daniel Fernando Guarcax González, and Tohil Fidel Brito Bernal have written a collective essay in their three voices—Kaqchikel and Ixil Mayan as well as de-indigenized mestizx—about the strategy of “transmotion” in Mesoamerica and how Indigenous epistemologies and their embodied logics offer alternative frameworks to approach state violence and border control.
Dakota Camacho explores the notion of the “sovereignty of spirit” in their own creative practice and reparative journey to become part of Matao resurgence. We have asked other contributors to create a specific work in response to the themes throughout Performance Journal 52/53, and in other cases, for permission to reprint original work. T. Lulani Arquette interweaves the Native Hawaiian creation story with the history of her people to explain how the notion of family extends beyond kinship and deeply influences her practice.
Anastasia Ski um talx McAllister presents two collage works and explains how she attempts to heal the loss from displacement through a digital connection with other Native peoples. Musician Laura Ortman shares two collage works related to her recent album and her performative musical practice. Andrea Carlson illuminates her work and its relation to her grandmothers as well as the museum as landscape and its effects on objects in a series of paintings (reproduced here).
Pelenakeke Brown’s visual work, A Traveling Practice, examines the choreography of the keyboard and challenges the ableist assumptions of movement practices. We have republished Postcommodity’s essay, “No Es Un Sueño,” about border politics and the terminological violence surrounding nation-states, the so-called “Nativism” of the United States, and colonial amnesia. Merritt Johnson has reprinted the text from her “Exorcising America” video series in which she offers methods of Indigenous survival in the form of DIY tutorials in the encounter with the demon that is “America.” Johnson and Nicholas Galanin co-author a text for an “Exorcising America” video tutorial, spoken in Kanien’kéha and Tlingit with text in English, about exercising trust as an act of resistance and survival for Indigenous bodies.
Finally, in line with the constant work of decolonization, the Performance Journal functions as space for community reflection and reaction. Heid E. Erdrich, Melissa Olson, Jamie Randall, Marcie Rendon, Sarah Again Howes, and Anthony Ceballos all offer their interpretations of and reactions to Rosy Simas’s work Weave, giving the reader an insight into the act of witnessing.
Throughout this issue, dance and movement is posited as a powerful strategy against settler colonial mindsets and as an effective tool against erasure of Native and Indigenous cultural traditions. These pages discuss the importance of Native sovereignty and analyze various histories of resistance to settler-colonialism. Artists in the issue propose alternative artistic models to probe the roles of art and artists in society towards a more expansive constellation that fundamentally critiques the Western reward system in culture as well as the often celebrated cult of authorship.