Could you survive a zombie apocalypse on the rez?

Would you survive a zombie apocalypse? How about if you were living on the rez? That’s the topic of a panel discussion at this year’s Indigenous Comic Con in Albuquerque, N.M., hosted by the co-creators of the website A Tribe Called Geek.
A Tribe Called Geek co-creator Johnnie Jae gives her tips of how to survive a zombie apocalypse on the rez. (Gene Page/AMC/Canadian Press)

Originally published November 12, 2017

Would you survive a zombie apocalypse? How about if you were living on the rez?

That's the topic of a panel discussion at this year's Indigenous Comic Con in Albuquerque, N.M., hosted by Johnnie Jae and Jack Malstrom, the co-creators of the website A Tribe Called Geek.

They gave the talk at the very first Indigenous Comic Con and were invited back to do it again this year. In it, they not only give tips on how to survive a zombie apocalypse, but outline how Indigenous people have already survived a type of apocalypse — colonization.

"Putting it in terms of surviving a zombie apocalypse is an easy way to start discussing colonization and the way that we survived as Native people in a way that doesn't come off as too preachy, but also … people can relate to," Jae explained.
A Tribe Called Geek co-creator Johnnie Jae with her Indigenous Comic Con pass. (A Tribe Called Geek/Facebook)

"As Indiginerds, we often have these discussions. What is it going to be like if we have to face zombies? What if there's another asteroid strike? How do we survive as Indigenous people?"

Jae said that surviving the zombie apocalypse is easy for Indigenous people living on the rez, and she has a few pro tips to pass on.

First, Jae said the community must secure its borders.

"In our communities we know everybody, so it would be easy to see when strangers start coming into our territory. Which inevitably is going to happen because they are going to want our resources."

Next, the community would have to take stock of supplies like food, water and weapons. If needed, they might have to make new weapons such as bows and arrows and skull crackers.

"A skull cracker is a traditional weapon, that was made from a stick, usually about two to three inches thick, and it would have an oval rock … on top, held on together with rawhide," said Jae. "And they would use that to pretty much, crack skulls."

Jae said that at last year's event, people left the talk feeling like they learned something about the struggles that Indigenous people have gone through.

"People thought it was going to be something hokey, kind of like a parody almost," she said. "Once we started tying it back to how we survived colonization and how we continue to survive and rebuild and reclaim what was lost, then it started to hit people."

A Tribe Called Geek 

Jae says that she has always self-identified as a geek, and saw the need to create a space to share her love of comic books and sci-fi.

"The more I started talking to people, the more I started to realize that there are a lot of Native geeks out there," said Jae.
A Tribe Called Geek is a website and podcast created for Indiginerds from across Turtle Island. (A Tribe Called Geek/Facebook)

"Within our native communities, it's okay to be traditional, it's okay to be an athlete, like these are things that we understand, as Native people. But what we don't understand is how being a geek — how is that Native?"

That's how the website and podcast, A Tribe Called Geek, was created.

For Jae, her love of geek culture stories stems from a realization that a lot of the stories parallel the struggles that Indigenous people have gone through, having survived colonization.

"We start seeing these struggles in other things, and you start seeing it in geek culture, you know with Harry Potter and Voldemort, you start seeing that struggle and you start relating it to what you go through as Native people," said Jae.

"I could see myself in some of the struggles that I was going through in some of these stories."