© 2020 by Ronnie Dean Harris 

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"SPEAK OF WHAT YOU KNOW"

A part of ​Intangible:Memory and Innovation in Coast Salish Art
Bill Reid Gallery - Vancouver, BC | September 13 to December 10, 2017
I once heard: “Speak of what you know.”

 

So here I am, on another stop on this constant journey of understanding. Understanding of myself, my culture, my ecosystem, my consciousness and my position in the cosmos. My understanding of indigeneity has shifted almost constantly. Since my first days of looking through books my grandparents had and witnessing ceremony with them, the world around me has revealed its own indigeneity to me in layers, strands, waves and particles over my existence in this realm. 

 

As I know it to be, from this point in my understanding of the concepts of time and space is the only viewpoint and narrative I can truly represent in this world. Ideologies around indigeneity under governmental, academic, scientific, cultural and cosmological modalities are external voices that have caused endless chatter in my own consciousness. From these trains of thought, I have derailed.

 

I have witnessed ceremony and my own grandparents in actions of rediscovering and reactivating their own cultural practices. I’ve seen in my lifetime the evolution of a cultural resurgence in the Salish longhouse traditions and practices as well as the evolution of contemporary Salishan artistic practice, praxis and practicality as we fight to find relevance in this new era of digitization and globalization. Commodification of indigenous knowledges for consumption of non-indigenous artists has driven creation of artistry out of survival, while at parallel, artists have worked to preserve ancient techniques and stories as to continue the conversations spirit/ancestry has handed down to us.

 

Either #NativerThanYou or #NotNativeEnough to academics in Cowichan sweaters or those with deeper ties to indigeneity and ancestry…I’ve learned to survive while carrying my own basket of stars along the way. Keeping the stories, connections, activations, bloodline, family tree, histories, stories, understandings and relationships to land/water/stars within my own bundle/box/basket(s) that were handed off to me to continue exploring and unfurling.

 

My own research and journey plays out in memes, posts, Tweets, rap verses, spoken word, performance and ponderings while working to understand my position in this colonial construct of a city/province/country/colony/cosmology and respond in the continuation of my family bloodline and responsibility to land and futurisms.

 

I am no expert in anything but my own understanding. I am not a master carver. My grandmothers were weavers and now I use words to weave for you a tapestry of understanding and expression while finding my way through this indigenous/colonial reality we stand in together.

Article in BeatRoute Magazine by Becca Clarkson: http://beccaclarkson.com/2017/11/17/beatroute-intangible/