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  • Kim Senklip Harvey

Salish Earthing: A Creation Class

Yesterday I handed in an assignment for my MFA that asked us to create a course led by Marita Dachsel. I really enjoyed this course, even though it got totally pandemic interrupted, it gave me time to focus and organize some ideas that I've been working on. Including the notion that I feel much more comfortable being called a cultural evolutionist and Indigenous theorist, but that's another post.

Yesterday, we handed in our 12 week detailed syllabus, our teaching philosophy and our teaching resume. By the by - teaching resumes are unnecessarily ridiculous and I won't be convinced otherwise. It's as if the most pedantic person created the format.

The course I created is something that I've been ruminating on for a number of years. I was looking through old grants this past week and came across a 2015 CC application where I talk about "unlocking the anthologies in my blood" and "discovering the stories of my people through land exploration." Now, I would not describe these ideas with this very ummm.. doctriney anthropologic vernacular, but hey I was trying!

My old terminology reminded me of Kim Tallbear speaking on the, All My Relations Podcast, about saying old ideas, differently today. That she wouldn't be shamed into some formative theorizing silence because we might say something differently, than we originally did years ago. Puhleese. Go take a look at my first few blogs, transformation of ideological language is a thing!

So, the sentiments and ideologies underneath those imperial-esque termed statements, are very much the same. I was speaking to the conjuring of Ancestral knowledge that has been embedded into our spirits, blood and land. Memories, teachings, and experiences that get totemed into space and the Universe reminds us of them via environmental activation.

You don't understand? Go back to that restaurant you got dumped at, or go back to the place where you first were kissed, or the hospital you had your child or the place you found out you lost a parent and try to not channel environmental memory. I will never return to the White Spot on Dumfries because Jeffery is a loser and that is the gospel truth!

Moments in time get marked into space and a lot of the time into our blood. Why do you think those racist old spaghetti westerns leaned hard on the "knowing indian" trope? I think it's because in some cases - we fucking did know.


Anyways, I think we all have, oh jeez, "an anthology" of stories locked inside of us and by creating conducive environments we can ground ourselves, connect with our relations and channel the knowledge, teachings and stories. We become conduits as we deeply listen, Dr. Lindsay Lachance termed this thousands of year old practice as presencing;

"the notion of honouring the timelessness of peoples connections to our ancestors. Presencing, is a practice that activates moments of resurgence through allowing one’s heart, mind and body to reconnect with ancestral and spiritual knowledge.”

This process is occurring all the time whether we are conscious of it or not. When I take a retroactive look at the creation of Kamloopa, I made many, many trips to my territories knowing the nourishment and generative spaces the lands gifted me. The times around the fire, with my family, listening to pines and Chilco river echo under the stars.

In 2017, I went to Aotearoa to specifically be on land where I felt Indigenous peoples are respected, to protect myself and think out the methodology for being an artistic leader on that piece. That intentionality around land based creative practice, gave me the space to create Community of Practices, lay the foundation for the Treaty and breathe slowly and deeply into Kamloopa.

When I went back to think about all of this in this last term, I distilled it down to the foundational elements of what I have done and do, to honour the relational bonds with the Universe, and all organisms, whilst being on the land. How those two intersectional components are essential to grounding ourselves in this present, within our temporal connection to Mother Earth and presencing our cultural knowledges.

I called it Salish Earthing: A Relational and Land based creation methodology. An approach that embraces full body listening, courageous exploration, and centers relational responsiveness to explore and deepen our ability to listen to the land to conjure ideas from physical and ideological earthing sessions to steward in stories. Once the Earthing sessions occur, we'd then totem them with our embodiments, sharing and storytelling.

The 12 week course, which really could be collapsed and or expanded in a multitude of ways, honours and shares Salish storytelling, ideologies and ontologies, and then the learner can go do land and spacial work, to then design a personal generative relation-based process.

There are a few stories about Break Horizons, that capture this process. It involves travelling though Lillooet territory and copper presencing itself. But imma save that story for the production! Come to the show and a talkback in...who knows when...2022? and I'll tell you how the Copper Breaking Ceremony came to be.

I'm grateful that Marita held space for us to dig into our desires for knowledge sharing spaces in the academy and for me, in addition, this creation practice is something I'm excited to share outside the academy as well. A lot of the values, protocols and practices are elements I share with the next gen of Indigenous storytellers, so that they have methodologies outside the imperial ones.

I'm also happy about the clarity I was able to formalize with my Knowledge Sharing Philosophy, which I'm going to eventually put in full on my website, but for now here's a portion:

"Knowledge sharing for me, is about gathering peoples to hold space, trouble oppressive ontologies and bear witness to all our ethereal relational impacts. I utilize stories to totem ethnospheric transformations, so we can steward in a more balanced and dignified environment than the one we inherited.

My objective when engaging with peoples activated in learning, is to provide the space for creative grounding in their curiosity, listening and storytelling. To nourish their inter-related cosmic bonds and support their active contributions to their own cultural heritage.

Gathering, grounding, nourishing, all our relations is the greatest story we will collectively create and I’m honoured to support participants and institutions holding space for this telling."

I think postsecondary learnings should be waaaaaaaay more accessible. So, I want to share the texts on the syllabus I created:

This Accident of Being Lost, by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson

Indigenous Methodologies: Characteristics, Conversations, and Contexts, by Margaret Kovach

Kaandossiwin, How We Come to Know, by Kathleen E. Absolon (Minogiizhigokwe)

I read both methodology books in my LE_NONET course in my first semester of my MFA and I think anyone working on creating methodologies, artistic, scientific, social, anthropological, historical, really if you're using systems, you should read these books. Kovach and Absolon have been talking about relation and land based research methods for a long long time because these practices are thousands of years old. I personally found these books mystically igniting.

They are more about "research", but if you're looking to create, you can just replace research. with your generative practice terminologies. These two books were foundational for me to understand the structural and formative practice to grounding Ancestral story work.

Betasamosake Simpsons, This Accident is on there because of her complex storytelling ability to weave land and relations into her creations. Her embodied illustration of relational and land based practice, is space bendingly brilliant and she's also really fucking funny!

In a time when we might have to be physically distant, I think there is a nourishing opportunity to get intimate with the ideas and entities that live within ourselves. I know I've been spending a lot of time troubling and investigating my own ideologies, methodologies and practices. Saying wáy to them, sitting with them around a fire, honouring them and letting them breathe, go and sometimes return.

I send this energy to your spirit and hope these offerings might be of use.

With deep love and in awe of the infinite stories inside of you,


p.s If you want to know more about possibly having this course taught at your place of learning, get in touch. Salish Earthing, is a class that, not unlike ourselves, is reflexive and can exist in many ways and I'd be excited to chat with you about it and my work on applying this method in my own creative practice.

p.p.s I'm currently trying out a once a week, 4 week, online creative writing class, that is going well and hopefully I can make more offers around that once I've piloted this one.

p.p.s here is a video of me dancing, just cause :)

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