Working from ideas developed in my dance film, a response to Leanne Betasamosake Simpson’s As We Have Always Done, I created some pilot “Land Acknowledgement Performative Postcards.” Though land acknowledgements initiated by settlers at performance venues may seem tiny gestures, I feel that their performative enactment are butterfly wings that prepare ground for resurgence, as discussed by Simpson and others. I presented this research at the Indigenous Research in the Americas working session of the American Society of Theatre Research, November 2019 in Arlington, VA: “You Shall Not Pass!” – Activating the Uncommon, the Irreconcilable, and the Indigenous in the Public Commons, convened by Jill Carter, University of Toronto.
The cards use typical post card font welcoming the addressee to an iconic tourist spot. The double-entendre re-signification takes place due to the matter-of-fact titling and iconic status, (re)marking in memory the original and primary signification of place.
Enactments/provocations include handing out postcards at major tourist sites in Arlington and D.C. and responding to people’s reactions through performative explanations of how Indigenous resurgence is in progress and how they might prepare in support. Ideas for these preparations include performatives like asking settlers to walk while feeling the ground; helping them to see beyond settlers’ current reifications of the land in monuments, malls, and street names; and engaging in round dancing.
A “New England” postcard series is coming soon!