Stories, Marks and Drums

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I have spent my life trying to understand and express who I am and what I do. In part this is because I am fully entrenched in the Western world and at the same time completely rooted in my Indigenous understanding of the world. I have found the ways that I was taught to be an Ojibway, helped me to understand and articulate my journey as a painter, lawyer, student, professor, consultant. In North America, we spend our careers being defined by what we do. We ask  new acquaintances the question, what do you do? As individuals, we get lost. We allow ourselves to be defined by our environment.

Indigenous thought suggests a different way of looking at the world. Indigenous thought, in all its incarnations, describes a vision quest. This process grounds the individual in place which, in turn, allows them the freedom to explore the possibilities of their story. In order to know where you and your projects are going, you must know your story, who you are, and the rhythms you carry through the world.

During the residency, we will look at alternative ways of looking at story. I believe that this will help you to see the story of your project and yourself in different ways. We have a way we see and tell our story. I will introduce you to the Trickster in a number of its incarnations. The Trickster always shakes up the story. I hope to provide an alternative approach to how your story can be told.

In order to be confident in exploring your stories, you must be comfortable with who you are. As an Ojibway man, I have carried a Mark, a symbol that represents me. At some point it becomes hard to tell if you are defining your Mark or your Mark is defining you. We will explore the idea of these Marks and hopefully help you find yours. Your Mark allows you to take chances because you are always anchored to your Mark.

Finally, we will each create a drum. From an Aboriginal perspective, the Drum represents our heartbeat and the heartbeat of the world. It carries our Mark and our Story. It addresses how we tie ourselves to the rest of the creation. Understanding this relationship is system thinking. We will look at how the system affects us and how we affect the system. We build a drum to help understand our work and ourselves from an alternate viewpoint. We build the drum to understand our agency within the world. The Indigenous perspective will be a thread that helps to weave a strong fabric for social innovation.