Canadian Art - - Reviews -

Erica Vi­o­let Lee in­tro­duced the world to the term “aca­demic aun­ties” in 2016. Since then, my world has shifted—the idea that we build and main­tain beau­ti­ful, weighty, strong and dy­namic kin­ship re­la­tions through our res­o­lute, dis­rup­tive and ten­der pres­ence in the academy as In­dige­nous philoso­phers is a life­line. We are kin. We oc­cupy these spa­ces re­la­tion­ally. Lee’s oeu­vre is just that: a col­lec­tion of po­ems, sto­ries and deeply mov­ing in­tel­lec­tual in­ter­ven­tions that weave to­gether her ex­pe­ri­ences liv­ing and work­ing within Treaty Six Ter­ri­tory in Saskatoon, and her in­ter­na­tional cli­mate- and In­dige­nous fem­i­nist–ad­vo­cacy work.

Work­ing as a “ne­hiyaw philoso­pher queen,” Lee in­ter­ro­gates the vi­o­lence of set­tler colo­nial­ism, lays bare a vul­ner­a­ble and beat­ing heart

that tends to lives and sto­ries across vast ter­ri­to­ries, and fun­da­men­tally re-en­vi­sions prairie lands and waters as think­ing spa­ces—spa­ces wor­thy of care and at­ten­tion and, to bor­row a term from scholar Cutcha Ris­ling Baldy, “(re)sto­ry­ing.” Lee also ad­vances waste­land the­ory, tend­ing specif­i­cally to the power and pres­ence of ne­hiyaw law in lands be­ing vi­o­lated by set­tler-colo­nial par­a­digms of ex­trac­tion and era­sure. This quote from her Novem­ber 2016 piece in on­line mag­a­zine GUTS sums up her philo­soph­i­cal work beau­ti­fully:

But the heart of waste­lands the­ory is sim­ple. Here, we un­der­stand that there is noth­ing and no one be­yond heal­ing. So we re­turn again and again to the dis­cards, gath­er­ing scraps for our bun­dles, and we tend to the dev­as­ta­tion with desta­bi­liz­ing gen­tle­ness, care­ful­ness, soft­ness.

In Lee’s work, she re­turns again and again to sto­ries and spa­ces long ig­nored and for­got­ten by white-set­tler thinkers in­tent on as­sert­ing a Euro­cen­tric vi­sion of life and law in prairie land­scapes. In­stead, she brings her vast in­tel­lect, care and at­ten­tion to bear on prairie lands, waters and at­mos­pheres. Moontime War­rior is a cat­a­logue of long­ing, life and lib­er­a­tion, and Lee’s work is a nec­es­sary salve in the post-apoc­a­lypse. —ZOE TODD

askiy: an of­fer­ing for the stream PHOTO ERICA VI­O­LET LEE

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