Note: Cross-posted with permission from Moniquilliloquies.
Photo credit: Monique Poirier
One of the most disheartening aspects I’ve found in American Steampunk alternate histories is the assumption that despite alternate histories that allow for magitek and phlebotinum and aether-powered airships and steam-powered, clockwork everything from cell phones to teleporters to ray guns… there is still an assumption that NDN genocide took place. That European contact can only have occurred in the 15thcentury and that it can only have resulted in colonialism, slavery, resource theft, land theft, and genocide.Come on, people.
We can have clockwork robots but not POC civilizations?
Filed under History, Essays
Note from Ay-leen: On the blog, I reviewed Professor Lameman’s one-shot comic The West Was Lost. It’s a pleasure to have her speak here about her newest Native steampunk work, The Path Without End. This short film will be screened at the upcoming art festivals: imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival, October 19-23, 2011, in Toronto, Ontario and the Skábmagovat Film Festival, January 26-29, 2012, in Finland.
The Path Without End is a retelling of Anishinaabe stories of Moon People who traveled here from the stars by canoe. The title is a direct reference to Basil Johnston’s retelling. In this telling, I recreate the Human and Moon lovers as they travel, propagate, and face the unending chase of colonization.
I have been largely inspired by my mother, Grace L. Dillon, whose scholarship is in what she refers to as Indigenousfuturism
. She advocates for Indigenous writers of science fiction. In fact, Indigenous peoples have been telling science fiction stories from the beginning. In a sense, in The Path, the planets are both the cosmos themselves but also spiritual planes and representations of the landmasses on earth. There is no single reading of the story.
Filed under History, Essays
Marty Two Bulls, ‘First Thanksgiving’ Click for source.
As a woman of color and as an American, I realize that some holidays just work to mythologize a past that I can’t be really proud of. Thanksgiving in the US is one example, of course. I still think, however, you can be thankful and reflective (after all, this is really what the day is about: acknowledging our pasts) without candy-coating our national history. So, some linkage below!
Image of a loup-garou courtesy of Wikipedia
The Werwolves were created by Honoré Beaugrand and appeared in “The Werwolves” (The Century, August 1898). Beaugrand (1848-1906) was the mayor of Montreal (1885-1887) as well as the author of stories and novels, including La Chasse Galerie (1900), a classic of Québécois folklore. “The Werwolves” is an early example of Québécois horror fiction as well as an interesting usage of traditional Native Canadian mythology.
“The Werwolves” begins in Fort Richelieu, in Québéc, on Christmas Eve in 1706. The Iroquois are “committing depredations in the surrounding country, burning farm houses, stealing cattle and horses, and killing every man, woman, and child whom they could not carry away to their own villages to torture at the stake.” Local white men have gathered at Fort Richelieu to take part in military exercises and to enjoy the coming holiday festivities. The men are telling stories in one of the barracks when one of the guards of the fort shoots at something. The guard swears he shot at an Iroquois outside the fort, although the soldiers who search for the Iroquois can find no trace of him or his tracks. The fort’s commanding officer is sure that the soldier was either drinking or is a fool and has him imprisoned. But an old trapper speaks up for the soldier and tells everyone that the man had been fooled by a band of Iroquois loups-garou (werewolves).
Image from the Gerstäcker Magazine from the Gerstäcker Museum, featuring his illustrated Westerns. Click for source (in German).
Assowaum was created by Friedrich Gerstäcker and appeared in Die Regulatoren in Arkansas (“The Regulators of Arkansas, 1845”). Gerstäcker (1816-1872) was a German who went to America in 1837. For six years he lived a checkered life in America, working as a schoolteacher, chocolate maker, silversmith, fireman, woodcutter, hotel manager, and, for the majority of his time, a hunter in the Arkansas wilderness. He returned to Germany in 1843 and began writing novels for children and novels for adults set in the American frontier and in the South Seas. The Regulators of Arkansas remains his best known novel. It was first published in English as “Alapaha the Squaw,” “The Border Bandits,” and “Assowaum the Avenger,” in American Tales 67-69 (23 July-16 September 1870).
The Regulators of Arkansas is set in Arkansas in the early years of statehood, in the 1830s, when murder was common and bad men more so. Opposing them were local vigilante groups, the “Regulators.” The main characters of The Regulators are searching for a particularly violent gang of thieves who are involved with Rawson, a sociopathic Methodist minister who marries and then kills women. Rawson is engaged to Marion Harper, a sweet woman who only knows him as a devout Methodist. Rawson and his gang steal a band of horses, and when the Regulators pursue them, aided by Assowaum, a native warrior, Rawson murders Alapaha, Assowaum’s wife. The Regulators pursue Rawson and the horse thieves and corner them in a farmhouse, where they are holding hostages, including Marion. Assowaum helps the Regulators break into the farmhouse, and the gang is captured. All of the thieves are hanged with the exception of Rawson, who is burned alive by Assowaum. Marion marries Brown, one of the Regulators, and they live happily ever after.
Cover for The West Was Lost. Click to read the comic
Native steampunk has been presented in many different ways and, like the comic Finder (which had been reviewed here a couple of weeks ago), The West Was Lost is another drawn tale that speaks in layers and plays with the concept of linear storytelling. The creators Beth Aileen Lameman (née Dillon) and her husband Myron Lameman are both Native (Beth has Irish/Anishinaabe/Métis heritage and Myron is from the Beaver Lake Cree Nation) and passionate about indigenous representation in their creative projects. Beth Aileen’s past work includes her comic Fala–which is described as a Native “Alice in Wonderland”–, the urban fantasy animated series Animism, and the games TimeTraveller–about a time-hopping Mohawk man from the 22nd century– and Techno Medicine Wheel. Myron is an independent filmmaker whose previous work includes his recent documentary made with support from National Geographic All Roads called Extraction, about the Beaver Lake Cree people’s fight against the Canadian federal government over tar sands expansion on their land. He has also done the short films Blue in the Face (also working with Beth Aileen), Indigenous Streets, and Shadow Dances and Fire Scars.
The comic itself is a one-shot 24-page piece, but the story it contains weaves in and out of time, consciousness and space. The summary of The West Was Lost is probably the most linear way to describe it:
The cold north wind brings with it chaos and harsh reality when decisions are made by Nezette, who leads members of the Sovereign to rid the west of the intruding Zhaagnaash people by putting flame to oil. Nezette must confront her worst enemy: the temptation of Windigo in herself.
Note: This is cross-posted with permission from Edwardian Promenade.
Released in 2009 (though with a fair share of controversy over the admittedly tasteless title, “Barbarian Princess”), with limited run last year and a DVD release in September, Princess Kaiulani is a gorgeously-shot tale of an unjustly forgotten figure in American history. Though the writing isn’t as nuanced as it could be, and there are many holes in the tale which require further reading after viewing the tale, for a movie which sheds light on a dark, yet fascinating period not often told outside of Hawaiian history, Princess Kaiulani is an excellent addition to the library of any history buff and period film aficionado. The film follows Princess Victoria Kaʻiulani Kalaninuiahilapalapa Kawekiu i Lunalilo Cleghorn (to give her full name) from shortly before her mother’s death to her own premature death at the age of 23. In between that regrettably short time span, we are shown the tenuous state of Hawaii’s royal family and its inhabitants.
Tokeah, or The White Rose opening page
Tokeah was created by “Charles Sealsfield” and appeared in Tokeah; or the White Rose (1829). “Charles Sealsfield” was the pseudonym of Karl Anton Postl (1793-1864), a German novelist. Sealsfield’s life is for the most part a mystery, largely of Sealsfield’s own making. He was a Moravian monk who fled from Metternich’s regime in Austria and emigrated to the United States under mysterious circumstances. He wrote journalism and a number of novels. Historically Sealsfield is important in German literature as a post-Sir Walter Scott writer of historical novels. Sealsfield attempted to widen the scope of his historical novels beyond what Scott had attempted and wrote about political movements on the national level in addition to individual characters. Tokeah began the tradition of German novels about the American frontier, a tradition which became a cultural obsession and which has only slightly diminished today.
Tokeah is the chief of a band of Oconee Indians in Georgia. Tokeah and his men discover a white baby girl, and they bring her to Copeland, a white trader, for safekeeping. After seven years of war with Anglos Tokeah takes the girl back from Copeland and renames her “the White Rose.”
Hawkeye was created by James Fenimore Cooper and appeared in Cooper’s five Leatherstocking novels, including The Last of the Mohicans (1826). Cooper (1789-1851) was one of the major early American writers, although he is known today primarily for Last of the Mohicans.
Set in 1757, The Last of the Mohicans is about Natty Bumppo, a.k.a. “Hawkeye,” and his adventures alongside his friends Chingachgook, a Delaware Mohican, and Uncas, Chingachgook’s son. Against a backdrop of the events of the French and Indian War (1756-1763), Hawkeye, Uncas, and Chingachgook battle Mingo Indians and the wily, evil Magua, and help Major Duncan Heyward, an officer in the British Army, and Cora and Alice Munro, the daughters of Colonel Munro, the commandant of Fort William Henry. At the end of the novel Magua, Cora, and Uncas are all dead, Heyward and Alice are engaged to be married, and Chingachgook and Hawkeye are mourning the coming demise of “the wise race of the Mohicans.”
For the last post of the year, I’m enjoying a post-holiday recoup and a some good steampunky links. Featuring some oldies but goodies, great vids, the launch of SteamCast in Brazil, and pretty steampunk art after the jump.