Canadian Art - - Reviews - —MOLLY SWAIN

In a so­ci­ety that sup­presses our voices and dis­torts our re­al­i­ties, zines re­main one way for marginal­ized peo­ple to ex­press our­selves freely and with­out cen­sor­ship or re­straint. The In­dige­nous zine scene is a grow­ing com­mu­nity that ex­plores and pro­motes our di­ver­sity, ideas and tal­ent through a DIY me­dia form. In pub­li­ca­tions like Na­tive Punx Unite!, Red Ris­ing, kimi­wan and Ev­ery­one Calls Them­selves an Ally un­til It Is Time to Do Some Real Ally Shit, In­dige­nous zinesters are re­view­ing bands, mak­ing po­lit­i­cal in­ter­ven­tions, in­ter­view­ing com­mu­nity lead­ers and shar­ing knowl­edge and sto­ries. All dis­sem­i­nate art and writ­ing on con­tem­po­rary In­dige­nous life that doesn’t rely on colo­nial nar­ra­tives of who we are.

Akimel O’otham/diné/hopi zinester Se’mana Thomp­son’s Queer In­dige­nous Girl mo­bi­lizes this di­ver­sity and per­spec­tive, show­cas­ing the work of queer, trans, non-bi­nary, Two-spirit, dis­abled, neu­ro­di­ver­gent and/or chron­i­cally ill BIPOC (Black In­dige­nous Peo­ple of Colour). The first is­sue was re­leased in July 2016 as a perzine (per­sonal zine) with an in­tro­duc­tion to Akimel O’otham cul­ture, Thomp­son’s ex­pe­ri­ences nav­i­gat­ing ADHD and more. Queer In­dige­nous Girl #2 shifted to a sub­mis­sion-based for­mat, a change Thomp­son sees as rooted in spir­i­tual and ac­tivist ethics: “I pro­vide this zine for oth­ers to re­claim space and their hu­man­ity through words and art. To speak words, to take images and put them into the uni­verse is a sa­cred act—pow­er­ful, heal­ing and bal­anced.”

The third is­sue, Our Peo­ple, Our Strength, gath­ers art and po­etry from 10 con­trib­u­tors. The lay­out—one piece per page on a white back­ground— gives the im­pres­sion of read­ing through a gallery, with vis­ual space to linger over each con­tri­bu­tion. And you’re go­ing to want to linger. Thomp­son’s il­lus­tra­tion Five Gen­er­a­tions, for ex­am­ple, draws the reader into ev­ery­day Indi­gene­ity in a colour­ful de­pic­tion of a liv­ing room that il­lu­mi­nates bonds of kin­ship through the ma­te­ri­al­ity of home. The poem “to be soft is po­lit­i­cal,” by Maria Teresa Carmier, in­ter­weaves fam­ily, trauma and love to poignantly speak to the im­por­tance of gen­tle­ness and heal­ing as strate­gies of re­sis­tance.

Zines have al­ways had a com­mu­nity bent, with zinesters, con­trib­u­tors and read­ers form­ing tight bonds through snail mail, email, zine­fests and, in­creas­ingly, on­line plat­forms. Queer In­dige­nous Girl stays true to this grass­roots ethos on­line and off­line. Whether you see your­self re­flected in its pages or want to en­gage with per­spec­tives that are too of­ten over­shad­owed, Queer In­dige­nous Girl is a chal­lenge and an em­brace, an ex­er­cise in sol­i­dar­ity and a call to cre­ate shared spa­ces, in or­der, as Thomp­son her­self writes, “to heal and gather strength.”

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