Looking towards the future: Indigenous futurism in literature, music, film and fashion

In popular culture, Indigenous people are often portrayed as being of the past, living traditional lives. Or they're not shown at all. This week on Unreserved, how Indigenous people are seeing themselves in the future.
Themes of Indigenous futurism are popping up in the video game Terra Nova, films like The 6th World, music like Yamantaka//Sonic Titan, and the clothing of Loren Aragon. (Submitted by Maize Longboat/Still from Futurestates.tv/Richmond Lam/Kyle Muzyka)
Listen to the full episode39:01

Originally published on March 10, 2019.

In popular culture, Indigenous people are often portrayed as being of the past, living traditional lives — or, they're not shown at all.  

Aside from a few characters, like Star Trek's Chakotay, Indigenous people aren't often portrayed as existing 10, 50 or 100 years from now. This week on Unreserved, how Indigenous people are seeing themselves in the future.

The term Indigenous Futurism was coined by Dr. Grace Dillon from Portland State University. She explains what the term means, and also discusses the success of Black Panther, the Afrofuturist film Indigenous audiences flocked to.

Lou Cornum has always liked science fiction and stories about space, but has seen very few examples of Indigenous space explorers in popular culture. They wrote an article called The Space NDN's Star Map for The New Inquiry, which takes a look at what it means for Indigenous people to be seen as space explorers.

You can't talk about futurisms without talking about technology. Indigenous Matriarch 4 Media Lab runs workshops for Indigenous artists, storytellers, producers and community members wanting to learn about virtual reality, augmented reality and 360 degree video. We visited a workshop and spoke to organizer Loretta Todd and a couple of the students.

Aconav is a women's fashion line created by Acoma Pueblo designer Loren Aragon and Navajo designer Valentina Aragon. The fashion line takes inspiration from Pueblo pottery designs, but also looks to the future. Their Xenomorph Hanu collection took inspiration from the Aliens film franchise.

Jarrett Martineau is the host of CBC Music's Reclaimed, a show that explores the range of contemporary Indigenous music being made around the world. Indigenous futurisms in music is a topic close to Martineau's heart, so he picked a song by Canadian group Yamantaka//Sonic Titan that speaks to this theme.

Maize Longboat has always loved video games, and wanted to create a game that reflects a common experience as an Indigenous person. Along with the help of Mi'kmaw artist Ray Caplin, the duo is creating Terra Nova.


This week's playlist: 
Silver Jackson. (Dr. Jessica R. Metcalfe)

Kendrick Lamar featuring SZA - All the Stars 

A Tribe Called Red featuring Saul Williams and Chippewa Travellers - The Virus 

Silver Jackson - From Another World 

Yamantaka // Sonic Titan - Someplace