An Indigenous resistance historiography, poetry that interrogates the colonial violence of the archive
Whitemud Walking is about the land Matthew Weigel was born on and the institutions that occupy that land. It is about the interrelatedness of his own story with that of the colonial history of Canada, which considers the numbered treaties of the North-West to be historical and completed events. But they are eternal agreements that entail complex reciprocity and obligations. The state and archival institutions work together to sequester documents and knowledge in ways that resonate violently in people’s lives, including the dispossession and extinguishment of Indigenous title to land.
Using photos, documents, and recordings that are about or involve his ancestors, but are kept in archives, Weigel examines the consequences of this erasure and sequestration. Memories cling to documents and sometimes this palimpsest can be read, other times the margins must be centered to gain a fuller picture. Whitemud Walking is a genre-bending work of visual and lyric poetry, non-fiction prose, photography, and digital art and design.
"Whitemud Walking is so smart and so ceaselessly innovative. It represents for me a fully assured instantiation of the Indigenous literary project: a confrontation of history's terrors head on and an articulation in the present of our beauty and indomitability. Weigel refuses the archive's efforts to flatten Indigenous subjectivity and, in so doing, opens up a kind of boundless space to remember and grieve but also to hope and imagine otherwise. A deeply felt accomplishment." –Billy-Ray Belcourt, author of A History of My Brief Body
"Whitemud Walking is a testament to the power of grief and outrage that so much theft has been allowed to bulldoze Indigenous land rights. Matthew James Weigel's passion for research both honours and mourns what has been trampled and lied about. This is a devastating read but one to learn from. Mahsi cho, Matthew. Your grief is our call to action to learn our own histories and build upon our own Indigenous testimonies of what really happened and when and who was there to witness it. Mahsi cho." –Richard Van Camp, Tlicho Dene author of The Lesser Blessed and Moccasin Square Gardens
"Whitemud Walking is a textual ecology, that through archival troubling, sampling, and reframing, allows the material, human, truly cellular historicity of treaty to enter as a living presence in our contemporary moment. Weigel writes, 'Here treaty means reciprocity and obligation. Here, treaty lasts forever'. This book is not the document you may hold in your hands but the shift in consciousness it foments within you. It is a gift." –Liz Howard, author of Infinite Citizen of the Shaking Tent
"Echoing the caw and grackle of magpies, Matthew James Weigel’s Whitemud Walking lives the sound of Treaty 6. Voices whisper sanctuary in creekbeds, papers rustle precedence in archives; there’s a buzz in your ear, a catch in your throat – listen." –Derek Beaulieu, Banff Poet Laureate
"In Whitemud Walking, Weigel attempts to articulate the breaks even as he seeks his own way through them, writing a space deliberately broken through colonialism and ongoing governmental interference." –Rob Mclennan