Sovereign Histories, Gathering Bones, Embodying Land

A Gathering of the Indigenous Literary Studies Association

First Nations University of Canada

oskana kâ-asastêki, Treaty 4 Territory

May 28 – May 30, 2018

as part of the

Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Regina

Regina, Saskatchewan

May 26 – June 1, 2018

     For its 4th annual gathering, and 2nd time at Congress, the Indigenous Literary Studies Association invited scholars, knowledge-keepers, writers, artists, and community members to explore the connections between sovereignty, gathering, and embodiment in Indigenous literatures, and how these function as carriers of memory and knowledge. 

     ILSA’s theme was related to the Congress 2018 theme, “Gathering Diversities / Diversités convergentes / mâmawihitotân nanâtohk-ayisiyiniwak,” which reflected the history of the Regina area as a traditional place of gathering, evoked in the city’s original place name, Wascana, or oskana kâ-asastêki – the place where the bones are gathered. This refered both to the region’s heritage as rich buffalo hunting grounds for a multitude of Plains cultures, and the clearing of the plains in the colonization of the land and peoples.  ILSA sought to respond to this history, with the theme of “Sovereign Histories, Gathering Bones, Embodying Land,” drawing on Leanne Simpson’s notion of “placing bodies back on the land.”

(1) Responding to this notion invites us to consider Simpson’s contention that “resurgence happens within Indigenous bodies and through the connections we make to each other and our land.”

(2)  Further connected to this is Eric Gansworth's idea of "sovereign bones": "Even as flesh fails, we understand that the parts of us we leave behind are the support structures. Those elements of our beings, stolen for so many generations, like voices, ideas, cosmologies, come back to us – those sovereign bones.”

(3)  How might such sovereignties be remembered, embodied, or gathered through Indigenous literary writings, readings, and practices?

1. See interview with Leanne Simpson:

2. Ibid. 

3. Eric Gansworth (ed), Sovereign Bones: New Native American Writing. Nation Books, 2007: p.5

     We welcome participants to consider these themes in connection to the histories of Indigenous writings in their multiple and expansive dimensions, including discussions of literature, film, theatre, performance, storytelling, song, hip-hop, and other forms of narrative expression.

     The Indigenous Literary Studies Association supports diverse modes of creating and disseminating knowledge. While open to all proposals dealing with Indigenous literary arts, ILSA encouraged proposals for sessions and individual presentations that engaged with the following topics: 

  • Land-based Sovereignties, Pedagogies, and the Literary Arts

  • Applied Literature and Community Healing

  • Kinship and Community Responsibility

  • Indigenous Ways of Knowing

  • Embodied Forms of Resurgence

  • Literary Methods and Indigenous Protocols

  • Oral Traditions and Material Cultures

  • Indigenous Performance Arts

  • Collaborative Creation and Multi-Media

  • Cree, Saulteaux, Nakoda, Dakota, Lakota, Dene, or Métis Narrative Arts

  • Two-Spirit and Queer Indigenous Critical Ecologies

  • Land, Stories, and Narrative Arts as Praxis

  • Urban Indigenous Communities and the Literary Arts

  • Artistic Expressions of Sovereignty and Self-Determination