Illustrating the Future Imaginary
We asked artists to illustrate themselves or their indigenous communities seven, ten or twenty generations from now.
//Listed by most recent.
Konwashennonni Beauvais, Kawehnoke Diabo, Marissa Diabo, Onowiio Morrison Goodleaf, Daelyn Horne, Mackenzie Kane, Hayden Nicholas, Ronikonrakatsthe Phillips, Cole Snow (Mohawk).
Seven Generations Assemble! 2019.
The figurines shown on the other side were produced in the Skins 7th Generation Character Design Workshop. IIF conducted the workshop with nine students from the Kahnawake Survival School (KSS) who were asked to imagine a relation or community member seven generations in the future. Working on paper, they first sketched their characters and used those sketches to talk with each other about how they envision their futures. The IIF team members then taught the students the basics of 3D modelling so they could transform the sketches into digital models. The character models were then printed in 3D and displayed as part of an exhibition at KSS celebrating the students and their work.
Niawen:kowa to Owisokon Lahache and Kahnawake Survival School for your work in organizing and hosting this edition of the Skins Seventh Generation Character Design workshop.
Ariki Brightwell (Rongowhakaata, Raukawa, Ngati Toa Rangitane, Tuwharetoa).
Kaitangata / Man Eater. 2019.
In the past, during battle, our ancestors prayed to Tumatauenga, the god of war and humanity, for his consent to engage in warfare. If the battle was personal, the victors would consume the flesh of their fallen foes; by consuming their mana (prestige), they would completely vanquish their opponent’s body and spirit. Today we do not practice this. We use our warrior spirit to survive colonization and to rebuild what we have lost. The white man has always seen the act of consuming another human as sacrilege, and this condemnation changed our world forever.
Yet today, the white man and his system consume us, our prestige, our land and Mother Earth. It is said that Whiro, the god of darkness, the eldest child of Ranginui (Sky Father) and Papatuanuku (Earth Mother), will rise from the underworld to consume this world. This is a warning to all, to bring peace to one another and to cherish our precious world for our future generations. This is a warning to all, for if we do not heed this and change the path we are taking, war and death will eat us all.
Kristina Maldonado Bad Hand (Sicangu Lakota and Cherokee). Through to the Sun. 2019.
Crows are one of the only birds that fly through a storm and withstand weather; they are a symbol of strength and resiliency. The woman has arrows that represent tears on her face but they point up—this symbolizes letting tears flow, letting go with the intention of moving forward. Her t-shirt says “Here, Still” because we are still here and we will continue to be here for generations to come. It can also mean that we are here but being still, like water or hunters. It is on ledger paper to bridge the past and future together, since only by knowing our past can we make progress in the future.
Suzanne Kite (Oglala Lakota). L-Sys (Lakȟóta System). 2018.
Listener is a science fiction story told through a performance artwork. The story is about a woman wandering alone in the future, receiving transmissions from the Far Place on her Listening devices. During the live performance, Kite uses a hair-braid with sensors to control sound and video. The hair-braid changes a synthesizer, which sends sound to machine learning software, which manipulates the video. This image is a still from the Lakota-System (L-Sys) visual interface. The artist asks, “How can Lakota understandings of hair affect the design of technology? What does a Lakota data-visualization interface look like?”
Dion Smith-Dokkie (West Moberly First Nations—Dunne-zaa, Cree, Saulteaux). Figure 4. Exclusion Zone Radiation. 2018.
“I use Google Earth satellite images as source material for digital collages about land, community and transformation. This image forms part of a series depicting northeastern British Columbia in the year 2207. The Nuclear and Oil Winters, and the concurrent dissolution of the Canadian State, triggered the development of the Decentralized Treaty 8 Authority (DT8A) as a sovereign, Indigenous-led body in the region. Lingering environmental dangers necessitated the designation of large, encompassing exclusion zones. This map and others illustrate how to safely navigate these saturated, unnatural landscapes.”
Briana Makanamaikalani Wright (Native Hawaiian). Pueo. 2017.
“The Pueo (Hawaiian Owl) represents strength, love, protection, righteousness and perseverance in my family; it is our Aumakua, or Family God. In times of major change, the Aumakua acts as a guide and guardian; it is vigilant and steadfast. The Pueo has watched over my family for generations and always shows up in times of need and hardship. In this painting, the Pueo watches over Hawaiʻi, which has become a futuristic underwater city, bustling and full of life. The Pueo acts as our guide to keep us connected to our culture, even in this time of amazing technological advancement.”
Nicole Neidhardt (Diné – Navajo). Remembering Futures from the Past. 2017.
“Storytellers Remembering Futures from the Past takes place in a new world 7 generations from now. The Earth has become uninhabitable and humankind has been forced to find a new home amongst the stars. The Diné moved to a planet with two moons who hold the world in balance. This world is the 5th world the Diné have lived in, the next step in our Creation Story. The people terraformed the planet to look like their home in Round Rock, Arizona. The hogans (traditional Diné houses) are partially made of glass and rigid woven panels. The image depicts storytellers who are remembering creation stories and archiving them to be shared later with their community. They use a form of telepathy, with each dot representing a story from Diné history. The piece shows the resiliency of our cultures, our people, our stories and how all of that is maintained and nourished by the matriarchs of our families. They reinforce that no matter what future we live through, we will not lose who we are as Diné.”
Nā ‘Anae Mahiki collective (Kanaka Māoli). Māhoe. 2017.
“Lehua and her twin are Hawaiians living in space. The twins (māhoe) have been raised by their grandfather (tūtū), and have been taught the old Hawaiian ways. Storytelling (mo’olelo), paddling canoe (hoe wa’a), and surfing (he’enalu) in space are the favorite pastimes of the twins. Lehua and her sibling have always been close and they love to play games and compete with each other.”
Character Design: Briana Makanamaikalani Wright (Kanaka Māoli)
Background: Chad Brown (Kanaka Māoli)
Space Canoes: Jasmine Eladas
Kaleikulaakeliiokalani Makua (Native Hawaiian). Ua Hoʻi Mai. 2017.
“The title of this piece translates as ʻReturned’. The prompt for the creation of this piece is imagining how my ancestors will live many generations in the future. I am hopeful that the Hawaiian culture will continue to revitalize and exist in the contemporary world.”
ᑲᓇᕒᐲᐅᐣ/connorpion/piihkonikewin (mixed non-status urban cree/atimekw/métis/settler living in Tkaronto/Dish with One Spoon Treaty Territory). ᐋᐣᒋᓈᑯᐑᐦᐃᑎᓱ/aandjinaagowiihidizo/s/t/h/e/y transfigure themselves. 2017.
“we are stars and nebulae between grandmother moon and grandfather sun. our spirits stretching from our traditional territories to these cities. they stretch and reach and braid the space-time continua. they vogue, sashay, jingle and grass dance to transcend settler colonial violence. we are the spectrums that bind two halves and we are essential. our presence and powers complete ceremonial circles. not of one nor the other but both and all. we are in the centre, in between, mixed/abitoose. our rightful place is in the centre, third and fourth genders and beyond — infinite/asakamik. we are earthseeds and our destiny is to one day return to and take root in starworld/giizhigong.”
Moanaroa Te Whata (Māori of Ngapuhi and Ngati Porou tribes). Ambassador of Aotearoa. 2017.
“I think in 7 generations from now we (humans) will be doing pretty well. After a few more wars, things like corporate greed, war, and prejudice will be seen as a distant lesson on what not to do. Eventually things will be all good here and there will be a perfect balance between the old world and the new. Aliens will finally decide it is safe enough to drop their invisibility shield and come hang out. My descendants will act as ambassadors to these beings and will welcome them with open arms, food and dance. Overall I’m hoping for a positive future for my descendants where they will still have their culture, be happy, and the world won’t turn to custard.
I was thinking of the archway (whareroa) in downtown Auckland that leads into Aotea Square. Aotea Square is a public space that holds open concerts, markets, festivals and political rallies. I felt that it would be a good place to reimagine. The cityscapes in this picture show the development to come in the future. So seeing as it’s not on a marae, it’s not a traditional welcoming. It’s basically a welcoming though the gateway into the city to meet the people.”
Jeffrey Veregge (S’Klallam). Bold Steps. 2015.
“The first Indian in space…”
Kaia’tanoron Bush (Mohawk). Use It. 2015.
“I am a violin teacher in Kahnawake with the Viva! Sistema program. It focuses on providing a social stability for children who may come from less fortunate families or who are unable to afford music lessons. The girls in the drawing are some of my students. The drawing was inspired by these students and David Bowie’s “Starman” hence the title, “Use It”. I was also thinking about the role social media and personal devices will play in young people’s lives and how this might change their futures and of course, as you said, the importance of preserving our traditions and practices. Initially my outlook on the future of Indigenous people was bleak. We spend everyday fighting for tomorrow, it was difficult for me to imagine something beyond 50 years but doing this work made me realize that we can build a kind future for our children.”
Heather Campbell (Inuit). 7th Generation Inuit Community. 2015.
“This painting depicts Inuit communities 7 generations from now. If two or three generations from now, humanity hasn’t destroyed our planet and themselves, it will be because we’ve embraced clean energy. The painting shows windmills which power the community, plus a communal greenhouse to grow food. The domed shaped homes have solar panels on the top, are build to withstand extreme weather, and provide protection from the damaging effects of the sun, which has become more dangerous due to the near depletion of the ozone layer. The homes have their own water supply as well and the dome of the home continues underground to create an orb. People will be forced to spend a lot of their time underground and everything is connected by tunnels. We are all living in the hills now because the polar ice caps have melted, rising the sea level. The earth has become warmer, resulting in the growth of trees further north. But the environment is slowly recovering from what past generations have done to it.”
Ray Caplin (Mi’kmaq).
Hunter of Altered Game. 2015.
“16 generations into the future, where Massive corporations and industry have long since coated the planet with towering cities and factories, it was also ages ago that all of earth’s recourses had cease, and the cities where left abandoned to crumble. The density of the cities has made it difficult for nature to reclaim the earth. toxic and radiation had soak the soil, morphing any life that dwell there into mutant like. In the mist of the ruin’s, a lone hunter preyed upon the altered game that roamed. Knowledge that was passed down from generations would shape him into noble hunter. Adapting modern tools such as his power spear, combined with the teachings from his anchors, allow the Mi’kmaq hunter to strive in this rugged forest of steel skeletons with poisoned skies.”
Steven Keewatin Sanderson (Plains Cree, James Smith Cree Nation).
Picking Up Where We Left Off. 2015.
“I envisioned a post apocalyptic world where the plains people returned to our old ways and were once again masters of your own destinies.”
Teyowisonte Tommy Dear (Mohawk).
Kahnawá:ke (Perseverance). 2015.
“I thought about what the future of our community would be in terms of likelihood and in terms of how I hope it would age. The illustration is intended to be an aspiration portrayal of our future. The illustration shows the dominant colonial world growing around us, amidst the contrast of the foreground depicting a Haudenosaunee Longhouse, which is holding colonialism at bay. The Longhouse symbolizes our enduring culture and nationality and the smoke symbolizes that it continue to exist and live. The rows of purple wampum on top and on the bottom of the illustration reflects the Two Row Wampum, which represents the desired relationship of coexistence and non-interference between our peoples. The top row is falling apart, which symbolizes the colonial failure to respect this relationship.”
Darian Jacobs (Mohawk).
Soaring High. 2015.
“Attempting to illustrate the far future was a big challenge as I tend to not think further ahead than next week. I realized I was trying to show a dark and pessimistic world that I wouldn’t want to live in. Once I let myself let go of those ideas and paint what I wanted, I found that my future would be bright and colourful. People living high in the sky and are using technology that might be powered by solar and wind power, or maybe some kind of magic. Sometimes people forget to hope, and assume everything will go wrong, but we don’t know how the world will change. Why not imagine a happy place?”
Joseph Erb (Cherokee).
Turtle Our Teacher (Turtle Translation App). 2015.
“The Turtle Translation App is about learning the old stories and ways with better communication. The idea is that future technology brings us back to who we are.”
Elizabeth LaPensée (Anishinabe).
Returning to Ourselves. 2015.
“Returning to Ourselves reflects our cyborg selves of the future in a spacetime when we activate interstellar travel by recognizing the depth of teachings from the past. Blood memory echoes as thought initiates form and the triangulation of breath ignites the connections of planetary traplines.”