Noxious Sector Projects
312 S. Washington St.
Seattle WA 98104

Janet-Marie Rogers & Alex Jacobs

When We Were Stars

Curated by Jackson 2bears

As my Grandfather told me: "In the beginning this entire earth was covered in water, and all that lived here were those animals of the sea and of the air; high above there was another place that the people called Sky World, and in this place lived an ever-blossoming tree that gave light for all those who dwelt there. One day the Great Chief of Sky World grew ill, and had the tree uprooted believing this would cure him; instead, his pregnant wife accidentally fell through the hole left by the tree, and tumbled through the air to our world bellow."

As First Nations people we keep our histories in the form of storytelling. And as we have always done, we continue tell our stories as a way to renew and strengthen our connection with our traditional culture, with each other, and with Mother Earth.

The Sioux philosopher Vine Deloria Jr once wrote that the main reason for theological/philosophical incommensurability between Western religions and "tribal spirituality" was that the first followed a temporal logic, whereas ours was based on a spatial one. Deloria argued that Western philosophy was rooted in a teleological, chronological and linear view of the world, and by contrast Native spiritually was based on a non-linear, geographical or circular philosophy. He said that our stories were "written on the land," and could be described as multidimensional, non-linear narratives that interconnect (spatially and dimensionally) with one another. For us, our stories are "animate" narratives because each time they are told and re-told in our ceremonies and at social gatherings they undergo important transformations -- this is how Native people experience their historical narratives through storytelling: as something spatial, dimensional, alive and ever-changing.

The story of Sky Woman as the first mother of this land and her journey to this place we call Turtle Island is at the very centre of our Haudenosaunee cosmology; it is our Creation Story, and to retell it is to "honour the life she gifted us," and celebrate our communal spirit as Onkwehonwe (Indigenous peoples).

-- Jackson 2bears