Dr. Nikki Dragone, American Studies
NATIVE & INDIGENOUS FUTURISMS AND FUTURITIES
In framing this new course on Native & Indigenous Futurisms and Futurities, I knew environmental sustainability would play an important role in course design. In many ways, Indigenous futurities focuses on communities. To be truly sustainable, a community must focus on more than just environmental sustainability. I applied for Valley & Ridge to ensure that this more holistic understanding of sustainability would be woven into this course.
Native American & Indigenous futurisms and futurities are related concepts. Both look towards a future that unsettles colonial narratives of the so-called “vanishing Indian”. Both draw on Indigenous ancestral stories, sacred histories, land-based practices, relationships and knowledges to reshape notions of science, technology, time, place and possibility. Indigenous Futurisms stories possible futures through literary and visual arts; in fact, one of its sub-genres is “Indigenous Science and Sustainability”. Indigenous futurities takes unactivated possibilities of ancestors and relatives embedded in Indigenous knowledges, stories and ways of being, and puts them into practice in the here and now so as to frame the future of those relatives as yet unborn.
Valley & Ridge gave me the tools to weave a series of assignments position my students as part of a handful of survivors of an apocalyptic slipstream event that leaves them stranded in an alternate universe that is centered on the “Dickinson Farm”. They will work together in small “kinship” groups, and as a class, to design a post-apocalyptic sustainable community that is ethically rooted in Indigenous values and futurities. To do this, they must think critically about the relationships between economic, social, cultural and environmental sustainability. For example, each group must become experts regarding one of four Indigenous futurity tools, such as community knowledge. Each group must facilitate a class discussion about the relevance of their assigned futurity tool to the design of the class’s sustainable community. In addition, students will be required to critically think and discuss their relational accountability to each other, to the non-human world, to the future generations, and to the Indigenous authors/communities whose values and futurities they are borrowing from to design their sustainable community.