Celebrations of Indigenous Language & Visual Sovereignty, Story & Design
Preview Workshops & Events - October 19th-26th.
Winter Count: Indigenous Beauty, Fashion & Design Week - November 2nd-9th.
Oki. Aba Wathtech. Dadanast’ada. Tansi. Bozhoo. Halito.
It is with pleasure that we welcome you to Otahpiaaki 2019: Winter Counts - Celebrations of Indigenous Language Through Visual Sovereignty, Story & Design.
We are honoured once again to be a gathering place for a host of Indigenous fashion designers, artists, musicians, and performers showcasing and celebrating indigenous beauty in all of its forms – intellectual, physical, emotional,and spiritual. Our runway in Mohkinstis/Calgary takes place at the newly opened, state-of-the art Central Public Library and will feature designer ateliers + literary features on each floors.
In our fourth and final year solely at MRU, we are focused on iihpkim mootspi (Blackfoot) -- passing on the teachings that one has received, to communities in the hopes that Otahpiaaki-inspired projects will blossom in many Nations under the guidance of a new generation of community-based producers, creatives, educators, and Elders. Otahpiaaki 2019 will take on a slightly different format as we engage in sahpahtsimah (Blackfoot) -- collaborating in a good way. Our goal is to host a showcase not only in Mohkinstsis, but to tour the knowledges we have gained as a team to support and promote capacity in (3) other communities in Treaty 8, Treaty 6, and Treaty 7 outside of Mohkinstsis.
Community showcases will include a collection from an anchor designer, capsule collections suitable for touring from the Otahpiaaki designer’s circle, and small collections from emerging designers, artists, and performers in host communities. The focus of celebrating couture, street wear, and modern regalia on the runway continues, along with workshops, performances, screenings, and/or language projects, but by- and in-community.
It is also the International Year of Indigenous Languages (United Nations), a year to raise awareness of the consequences of the endangerment of Indigenous languages across the world, and an opportunity to establish links between Indigenous language, lifeways, justice, balance, truth, and reconciliation. The theme Winter Counts encourages and platforms the stories in designers’ collections and their visualizations of language and message in pattern, form, and action.
An Indigenous Resurgence. An Indigenous Renaissance.
For Siksikaitsitapi (—the Blackfoot Confederacy), the Winter Count was a visual way of reckoning time, of keeping a record of significant stories and happenings with insights into the importance of these events for the Nations’ people. It included the Elders and traditional people who illustrated the hides, and their feelings. The Winter Count embodied Ihstipaitapiyiop, Blackfoot teachings of ‘all we have been given’. All of these things, and more, were ‘carried with it’.
The old people who carried this knowledge include Ekistanopatki (Mrs. Buffalo), Sisinaki (Mrs. Many Guns), John Yellowhorn, and Billy Strikes with a Gun. Albert Moustache Sr., Joseph Crowshoe Sr. and his wife Josephine also helped. Allan Pard, and Leonard Bastine published this knowledge at the Oldman River Culture Centre in 1979, as it shared with and written down by Paul Raczka. We thank Duane Mistaken Chief for sharing his on-going knowledge of the language.
Language revitalization is fundamental for the survival of traditional ways. Language is the very foundation of Indigenous culture, a culture is expressed through language. Language is understanding, understanding of our ancestors, ways of life, and traditions rooted in the love from Creator. Language is life and we must work hard to protect it. Language is intimately tied to the land. With the loss of land, ways of speaking about the lands and their resources are lost.
The Indigenous Creative Movement is exploding. More designers, artists and performers are raising their voices through a mix of traditional and contemporary art forms stemming from justice, resilience, and resistance. Artists, designers, musicians, & writers are leading the resurgence of Indigenous-led creative projects, innovating with revolutionary visions. - TARYN HAMILTON (BARREN LANDS FIRST NATION)
In Blackfoot, Otahpiaaki describes the moment when the sole and vamp of the moccasin are bound together. We believe that the work of reconciliation is for neighbours and that important conversations and teachings can be shared through creative and artistic practices. Our project is a gesture of reconciliation inspired by Call-to-Action #83, where Indigenous and non-Indigenous creatives work together in Sapatsimapi (Blackfoot) — collaborating in a good way.