Quote of the Day: What is Your Name and Why Do You Care?

According to the Creek author Joy Harjo, the foundation of good protocol in Indigenous territory is self-identification… Secwepemc scholar Natalie Clark reframes Harjo’s protocol as a question: “who are you and why do you care?” I take this question and the responsibility of naming myself as a serious and ongoing process: the question of the name is not one that can be definitively answered at any one given time. Because they erupt out of the space between subjects, identities and motives are in a constant state of flux: they move slowly overtop a mantle of bodily presence. It’s like plate tectonics, a scientific theory that took what appeared to be ineradicably stationary (the ground under our feet), and illuminated the enduring amble of continental drift. Like the land beneath us, our identities drift, following the currents of new relationships and communities, but the ground remains the same. It is a freeing realization to recognize that identity is in motion (however slowly), but it doesn’t release us from the responsibility of self-assessment or the obligation to probe our own privileges and motives—in fact, it highlights that identifying ourselves should be a persistent practice, one that we regularly revisit in our work and community engagement.-David Gaertner, “Narrative Tectonics: A Settler Scholar in Indigenous Studies,” Novel Alliances


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