The Nakoda AV Club is a youth based collective of storytellers and artists based in the eastern slopes and foothills of the Rocky Mountains. We believe in the power of story and the potential of youth. We have three stories to share with you.
Bison + Land
Respect + Dogs
City + Found Stories
Bison + Land
Gidââbisî means sad in Nakoda. 2019 film made as part of a 72 hour lockdown challenge.
The traditional homeland of our people was the mountains and foothills. We were forcefully removed from these spaces at the time of signing Treaty 7 because of the hegemonic western interpretation of the Treaty. Our elders intent was to make peace. A missionary named John McDougall negotiated on behalf of our people with his own interests rather than ours. He wanted our people to live in Morley close to his mission. We were forecfully removed from the lands we lived on and confined to the reserve. We were banned from using the mountains in the ways we always had when the mountain parks were founded. The same thing happened to our relations the bison.
In 2017 the bison were welcomed back into the mountain parks. Contrary to expectations that they would live in the valley, they immediately started ascending peaks. The mountains have always been their home, as it was ours. In 2019 the Nakoda AV Club began investigating our historic and modern relationships with the bison. We began working with Parks Canada, and invited our friends at the Napi Collective to investigate with us. We spent time in the park, and went on a three day hike to visit the bison. We spent time with elders and in the archives. We worked at the Banff Centre and in the foothills.
If you want to read more about our journey have a look at the Banff Bison Blog (November 2 2019 – walking with the bison). We found strong links between the bison’s story and ours. We made a short story dense with symbolism and pain. We are making it available to you for this event.
Reclaiming a Relationship: Tataga Ozadé ogo né îzîhâ ûbi Nakoda AV Club 2019
Respect + Dogs
Ahomapénî: Relations and Res Dogs – short prepared for Environmental Racism is Garbage by Amber Twoyoungmen & Aiden Powderface (2021).
Ahomapénî: Relations and Res Dogs is a project that the Nakoda AV Club members embarked on to explore the differences in the ways that settler and Indigenous people think about dogs. It was inspired by the ongoing theft and also abandonment of dogs that occurs on reserve caused by settlers.
Ahomapénî is acknowledging a being’s right to exist in its own way, asking for the right to “be” – similar to the english concept of “respect” and the question “do you respect me?” In this film we explore the questions “What do dogs need to be healthy and happy?” Different answers to this seemingly straightforward question illuminate the ways people think about human animal relationships on reserves and in settler dominated spaces.
This documentary dispels myths, and delves into areas where stereotypes and assumptions contribute to challenges for both people and animals living on reserve. This “dogumentary” stems from an interest in exploring the space between the roles for dogs in urban and reserve society, and drawing attention to the meaningful relationships people have with dogs in both. Members of the community at Morley reserve also expressed concern that urban people may have misunderstandings about the connection that the Stoney people have to their animals, in a modern as well as historical sense.
Watch the full documentary here. Nakoda AV Club 2018.
This documentary is divisive. People are very passionate about “res dogs” and their right to steal them under the guise of morality. Several rescue agencies have attacked our members online when they attempt to have dogs returned to rightful owners or questioned the “rescuers” about the dogs they have advertised on their websites. Thankfully when some people see this documentary they begin to understand the different interests involved. Several people have asked what they can do to help so we wrote a guide available here.
City + Found Stories
Luck Has Nothing To Do With It (Soloman Chiniquay & Marissa Peterson 2021)
This short film is part of larger themes we both engage in our practices. The footage is recycled, and when paired with our collaborative voices, creates a new form of expression and representation from possibility for reuse. The sounds are recitations of collected words from signs and graffiti, also repurposed for our own needs. Signs and language clutter this world with instructions that compel us into particular behaviors or startle us out of familiar places and patterns. Visual and auditory noise combine. We collect images and words, harvesting from the urban and rural environments what we need, reusing and repurposing what has been discarded, maybe fostering life anew.
Found Objects + Sculptures
I have always had a strange relationship to garbage and landfills since my youth. I used to play in landfills, collecting things, repairing things, building structures out of furnaces, fridges and old beds to play in. I also used to collect cans outside around my rez neighbourhood and get my family to drive me to the bottle depot so that I could cash them in. I did this from when I was 13 until I was 16 years old. I would often and still do see people (community and non community members) drop trash off wherever they please around Morley. Community members know that there is no money or reasonable infrastructure for sanitation, and that whatever gets deposited at the dump blows away and leeches into the soil and ultimately the water table. Outsiders know they can toss their trash and not be punished.
I don’t think that Canada has it all figured out but I wish my community was up to standard with the rest of Canada. The lack of funding and resources that indigenous municipalities get for basic necessities such as water and waste disposal is racist.
This significance of the text above and the series you see is part of an ongoing projecting I have been working on since I graduated university. These are some of the thoughts and experiences that have informed this work. I just wanted to acknowledge the beauty in these found sculptures and objects at least one more time before they make their journey to the landfill or wherever they’re headed.
I also wanted to say that these most of these images were hand processed by myself and some are shot on expired film and on cameras found in dumpsters and thrift stores. All of my photo projects are done this way and I feel similarly about cameras and film as I do these images. it makes me sad to think about all the cameras in landfills.
One thought on “Nakoda AV Club (Live Exhibit)”
There’s so much to learn and think about here, thank you all for sharing! I especially love the work on relations with animals–the Bison animation is so tender and sad; the bison video is deep (while the Banff blog is so much about images and information); and the rez dogs film brings to light something that as a settler I haven’t really been aware of.