Sep 13

Indigenous Futurism: Returning to Land, Reclaiming Thyselves

by: Chad Eric Smith

From September 12 – 23, Mural Arts Philadelphia is hosting the annual Arts + Environmental Justice Symposium. The two-week series of events, led by the Mural Arts Institute, will examine how creative people and practices are helping explore the intersection of racial, environmental, and economic justice and meeting the specific calls of the moment. While many of the events will be virtual, allowing participants from all across the country to engage conveniently, there will also be a few in-person events.

On September 14, at 1:45 pm EST, at the Free Library Theater, artists, cultural workers, and activists from California, New Mexico, and Texas will screen short documentaries created to outline the collaborative, participatory arts-based processes they utilized to address local environmental justice issues in their respective communities, followed by a Q&A. On September 20 at 5:00 pm CMT, members of the grassroots organizations Alas de Agua Art Collective and Three Sisters Collective will discuss their collaborative work to recenter an Indigenous/Chicano/Latinx presence in the quickly changing landscape of Oga Pogeh, Santa Fe, NM. Both events have in common the presence of Dr. Christina M. Castro (a.k.a. Dr. X), co-founder of the Pueblo woman’s group Three Sisters Collective.

Dr. X (Jemez/Taos Pueblo/Chicana), a mother, writer, scholar, and organizer, received her doctorate from Arizona State University’s School of Social Transformation & Justice Studies and is an advocate for the rematriation of Indigenous lands and communities. For the first couple of years of grassroots activism around Native country, there were lots of emphases put on “land acknowledgments,” but now it’s more about the land back ideology, which seeks to re-establish Indigenous sovereignty. “We don’t want just an acknowledgment that this land was once ours; we want processes that afford us the opportunity to reclaim ancestral land bases,” said Dr. X.

SOURCE: https://www.prosperitycandle.com/blogs/news/10-social-female-activists-who-inspire-us-today

However, getting one’s “Land back” isn’t just a matter of academic discussion; it’s political. Several champions are using grassroots activism to ensure practical application. Grassroot organizers and front-line organizers mobilize with nonprofits and city and state entities to gain leverage and push for land back. And it has worked. Through the efforts of Alas de Agua Art Collective and Three Sisters Collective, in collaboration with the nonprofit farm next door to Full Circle Farm and Youthworks, activists approached the county for the land, acquired five acres, and began rehabbing to remove trash and debris. “I feel like we are doing a really good job of moving the pendulum of social transformation, reintegrating our original Indigenous name of our community, O’gah Po’g’eh, into the language lexicon, creating a model example of what could be replicated in other cities., states, and counties,” said Dr. X.

And who are the primary leaders of this cause? These political movements, water protection movements, and land back movements are all led by women. Dr. X, and other like-minded women, view it as their personal responsibility as a matriarch to teach people how to reconnect with the land – native or not. Everyone needs to understand our place in the web of life. Humanity must learn our place and how to be in reciprocity with nature. Until then, according to Dr. X, “we will continue to destroy our planet.”

To learn more about Dr. X’s work and the work of collaborators, make sure to RSVP for the September 14th and 20th event by RSVPing at https://www.muralarts.org/art-environmental-justice-symposium-2022/

 

  • Photos by Sepideah Mohsenian Rahman.

  • Photos by Sepideah Mohsenian Rahman.

  • Photos by Sepideah Mohsenian Rahman.

  • Photos by Sepideah Mohsenian Rahman.

Last updated: Sep 13, 2022

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