The Echoes Build My Home
The Echoes Build My Home is a generative multi-media installation of lens-based performance collaborations between myself, my more-than-human kin* and the land. It is intended to be a critically incomplete reference to Niitsitapi yáakokiiyi*– homebuilding –tradition and medicine wheel memory, which necessitates intimate multispecies connections between ancestors and intergenerational storytelling. Locally sourced materials give reference to the distance traversed and adaptations made in my practice of reconnection; agave stalks stand in for cottonwood poles, beargrass is braided as sweetgrass. To resist and subvert the colonial capitalist death-drive by making connection and building community is to enact survivance* as a lived practice of glitchwork. These synergetic, collective and poetic actions are complicated through a multivocal glitched lens that gestures towards the material and bodily agency of all my collaborators.
Drawing inspiration from traditional home-building practices of my Niitsitapi relations, audiences are invited to be active participants in the construction of a home space on land that is not my own. Navigating the installation by following multi-species joining of cosmic bodies referencing the sun, viewers embody collaborative efforts to dress the central niitóyis* structure, aiding me in the process of worldbuilding through webbed-relationality. The center video evokes a grass dance performance and is projected back onto borrowed land, an adobe circle. The day-long performance references long-distance attempts at reconnection by navigating the digital landscape of Google Earth and bodily movements considering grass dancing in a place of sometimes water— a wash. Breath and voice of more-than-human kin speak through bones and dried plant matter acting as technological collaborators, to echo multivocal calls of the land. Leaning into knowledge ways that ground home in the land and lateral relationships with human and more-than-human kin, this work builds itself in a circle referencing horizontal and webbed power relations that are cyclic, intergenerational experiences of time. It embodies memory, distance, reconnection, recognition, and collaboration as an ongoing praxis of survivance.
Thank you. Let us listen together again.
- more-than-human kin: plant and non-human animal relatives
- Niitsitapi: “The Real People,” referring to the Blackfoot Confederacy consisting of four tribes: the Kainai (Bloods), the Piikani (Peigans), the Siksika (Blackfoot) and Aamskapi Pikuni (Blackfeet)
- yáakokiiyi: to erect a lodge
- niitóyis: lodge (tipi)
- survivance: “Survivance is an active sense of presence, the continuance of native stories, not a mere reaction, or a survivable name. Native survivance stories are renunciations of dominance, tragedy and victimry.” -Gerald Vizenor (Anishinaabe), Manifest Manners: Narratives on Postindian Survivance (1999)
Acknowledgements: Deep gratitude for the ongoing labor of so many in making this work. Thanks especially to D for the solid foundation; Chloe for the play; Aedan for the breath; Katie for the graphic design; Branden G. for the drone footage; Alain for the sweat and conversation; Tehan for the new tech and grounding companionship; David for all of the questions answered with care; my committee, Sama Alshaibi, Marcos Serafim, Aaron Coleman, and Dr. Amy Fatzinger, for their honest challenges and support; my family for their stories; my more than human kin, as always; and the land of the Tohono O’odham and Pascua Yaqui for all of its knowledge.
Smoke Hole, Earth Portal
90 minute looped projected video, 5’ diameter adobe circle, four reclaimed agave
lodgepoles, sweetgrass, beargrass
Remembering to Rise and Set: Piinaapooh’ss / Niipootsit (east/ get ready)
11 minute looped video with cow hip bone
Remembering to Rise and Set: Amskapooh’ss/ Iikinaipooyit (south/ speak softly)
11 minute looped video with cholla bones
Remembering to Rise and Set: Amiitooh’ss/ Aisstakapii Naatoo’sii / Kookoomikiisoom
Kiistoo Kiitaisinoowaas Kookoyii (west/ the sun is crawling away /moon, take charge of
11 minute looped video with bison skull