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“The Eighth Fire”

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 August 2016

Extract

The Anishinaabe people of Turtle Island [North America] have a teaching called the Seven Fire Prophecies, which clocks the history of our time on this land, from how we received our earliest teachings, through the arrival of the “light-skinned race,” through the loss of our ways. According to many of our teachers, we are now living in the time of the seventh fire, a time when there will be “a rebirth of the Anishinaabe nations and a re-kindling of the sacred fire.”

The eight fire is an extension of the prophecies, a suggestion and a wish that now is the time for the Indigenous people and the settler communities to work together to achieve justice, to live together in a good way.

—Yvette Nolan (Algonquin), Medicine Shows

In many disciplines where it has become apparent that scholarship has been one of the key technologies of colonization, complicit in the exploitation and decimation of the land and its human and nonhuman inhabitants, there has been a (re)turn to ways of knowing that are not about power/knowledge—naming, disciplining, categorizing, objectifying, and isolating elements—but about relationality, reciprocity, respect, and what Opaskwayak Cree scholar Shawn Wilson discusses under the principle, shared across many Indigenous cultures, of “relational accountability.”

Type
Essays: A Call for the Future
Copyright
Copyright © American Society for Theatre Research 2016 

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References

1. Nolan, Medicine Shows: Indigenous Performance Culture (Toronto: Playwrights Canada, 2015), 117. In a footnote, Nolan says, “These quotations are from ‘The Laws of the Seven Fires,’” as told by Elder William Commanda, keeper of the Wampum belt, related to me through personal correspondence.” For a more detailed account of the Seven Fires prophecy, see “Teachings of the Seven Prophets: The Seven Fires,” Passamaquoddy website, www.wabanaki.com/seven_fires_prophecy.htm, accessed 7 February 2016.

2. Shawn Wilson, Research Is Ceremony: Indigenous Research Methods (Halifax: Fernwood, 2008), 77.

3. The work of Nishnaabeg scholar Leanne Simpson is among the most powerful and nuanced accounts of this resurgence, which is deeply grounded in the land, the language, and a specific culture. See especially Dancing on Our Turtle's Back: Stories of Nishnaabeg Re-Creation, Resurgence and a New Emergence (Winnipeg: Arbiter Ring, 2011).

4. For accounts of Indigenous research methodologies within the academy see, for example, Linda Tuhiwai Smith (Māori), Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples (London: Zed Books, 1999); Margaret Kovach (Nêhiýaw and Saulteaux), Indigenous Methodologies: Characteristics, Conversations, and Contexts (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2009); and Wilson.

5. See Kovach, 29 and passim.

6. See Keith H. Basso, Wisdom Sits in Places: Landscape and Language among the Western Apache (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1996).

7. Nolan, 4–5, 143–53.

8. See Gerald Vizenor (Anishinaabe), Manifest Manners: Postindian Warriors of Survivance (Hanover, NH: Wesleyan University Press, 1994).

9. See Howe, LeAnne (Choctaw), “Tribalography: The Power of Native Stories,” Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism 14.1 (1999): 117–25Google Scholar.

10. See Michelle H. Raheja (Seneca), Reservation Reelism: Redfacing, Visual Sovereignty, and Representations of Native Americans in Film (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2010).

11. See Gerald Vizenor, Fugitive Poses: Native American Indian Scenes of Absence and Presence (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1998), 15; and Simpson, 88–90.

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