Back 2 the Land: Romanticize This!

By Moll Walker

The clear Alberta sun is shining on the south-facing wall of rock under my hands and feet, warming my back. I look down at my foot placement, and shift my weight over my right foot as I straighten up and reach for a hand hold. My brother is below me on the other end of the rope, saying something hilarious. Beside him is one of my best friends, belaying another of my best friends who climbs beside me. We reach over and high five.

My sister, grandmother*, Chelsea, her two eldest awasisak, and I sit at a large kitchen table. We just watched an incredible sunset while eating moose steak and brussel sprouts. The adults have had a glass of fancy-but-not-snootily-fancy wine. There’s a fire burning in a huge fireplace and we’re all sitting in comfy chairs and wearing lots of flannel. We mention that we all received A’s on our latest assignments, congratulate each other, share a profound sense of satisfaction related to four generations of women kicking academic ass so entirely, then pull out our homework and get started.

Generally speaking, as Indigenous people we don’t have access to empowering romanticized narratives about ourselves. Romanticization works ON and AGAINST, not FOR us, by erasing, displacing, and disappearing us. The history of romanticizing Indians, our spiritualities, life ways, cultures, and bodies has always been tied to the presumed inevitability of our dying out as settlers and settler culture consume and colonize. Everything from contact stories to national parks have used romanticization to justify Indigenous genocide and reify settler superiority. Being an Indigenous person, especially in settler spaces, often means spending significant time and energy busting myths that have sprung up from these narratives (“No, I don’t paint with all the colours of the wind;” “No I am not the last of the Mohicans.”) It’s exhausting, and I think it’s made a lot of us wary of romanticizing anything- the moment we do, it will be twisted to serve settler conquest needs and to quell settler anxieties. Or worse, what we’re romanticizing will be taken away from us, because life (especially under the capitalist colonial cisheteropatriarchy) does that to you sometimes. And sometimes it does it a lot.

The process of going back 2 the land is going to be difficult, and Chelsea and I both want to be be transparent and realistic about it. That being said, I think it’s really important that we allow ourselves to romanticize this journey as well. Especially at times like these: when we’re both super stressed and when many aspects of our lives and futures are so unstable. It can be really overwhelming! Putting on some rose-coloured glasses and thinking romantically about the future can remind us why we’re doing this to ourselves right now, and create space to work towards what we envision. Even silly little fantasies about doing homework with my grandmother or spending a day with friends actually work to create these futures, as well as explode settler expectations about what it looks like to be a native going back 2 the land.

Sure, I could have written about mastering Michif and bringing people onto the land and going to ceremony all time, and those things are definitely on my mind, but at this moment of chaos when I project myself into the future it’s at a kitchen table or spending time in the mountains. These romanticized narratives won’t hinder me in accomplishing the tasks I need to do in the here and now, but they will ground and focus me so the here and now doesn’t overshadow the future.

So excuse me, I’ve got some errand-running, leave-taking, packing, and daydreaming to do.


*In real life, my grandmother has applied to take a grad-level creative writing course at the University of Calgary this fall.

Back 2 the Land: First callout for help!

by Vin Chiesel*

Going back to the land isn't easy. It's not like you jump aboard your robot space-unicorn of science and WHAM!** There you are, on the land, with the birds singing and the mice making you a meal of bannock, bison sausage and dill mustard. IF ONLY.

Molly and I have plans. Plans within plans. But to do our planning effectively, we need a temporary roof over our heads so we can build a permanent roof over our heads. An ante-shelter, if you will. A penultimate place of protective repose. In this case, also know as a basement.

My parent's basement, actually. And currently it is full to the brim of stuff my parents have been storing down there since my sibs moved out.

As of June 23rd, Molly is going to be busy for days, driving and blogging (driveblogging, drogging, bliving?) all of our worldly possessions across so-called Canada. Meanwhile, my brood and I will be flying home on June 24th. On the 25th, we need to begin the arduous process of moving parental detritus out of the basement so we can clean and repair said subterranean sanctuary.

Unfortunately we lack adequate muscle power. My father won't be there for some time. My mother broke her arm a while back and is still not healed up. Also, she is not very mobile. Basically, my parents can't (and shouldn't) help us. So it's just me, the city-boy husband I am dragging into rural reality (minus the kicking and screaming) and the baby. While this may surprise some of you, the baby will not actually be much help here.***

This is where you (possibly) come in. If you are in the amiskwaciy-wâskahikan (Edmonton) area, and you want to start getting involved in this land collective Métis in Space is kicking off, then we could seriously use your muscle!****

If you can be available that weekend to help us out, please get in touch at metis.in.space[at]gmail[dot]com! We will bannock you right up!

* Don't say I never did nothing for you, Moll Walker!

**Your robot space-unicorn of science is really only good for whiling away the time (http://unicorn.jocke.no/).

*** Other than moral support, of course. She's got cheeks for weeks, and that's going to cheer everyone up!

****You don't have to be asiniy awa (the Rock), but we would definitely accept Dwayne Johnson's help.