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 invites 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 is related to the Congress 2018 theme, “Gathering Diversities / Diversités convergentes / mâmawihitotân nanâtohk-ayisiyiniwak,” which reflects 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 refers 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 seeks to respond to this history, with the theme of “Sovereign Histories, Gathering Bones, Embodying Land,” thereby 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. Prospective participants are invited to propose conference papers, panels, roundtables, workshops, performances, and other formats for special sessions. Panel sessions will be 90 minutes in duration, including at least 15 minutes for questions and discussion. In keeping with our desire to enable dialogue and community-based learning, we welcome session proposals that utilize non-standard or alternative formats. While open to all proposals dealing with Indigenous literary arts, ILSA encourages proposals for sessions and individual presentations that engage 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

     Sovereign Histories, Gathering Bones, Embodying Land features writers Louise Halfe, Warren Cariou, Randy Lundy, Rita Bouvier, Janice Acoose, Harold Johnson, Blair Stonechild, Carol Daniels, Solomon Ratt, Lisa Bird-Wilson, Beth Cuthand, Gloria Mehlmann, and more.

     The gathering also features the Renate Eigenbrod Memorial Mentorship Lunch, which will connect emerging artists and scholars with established mentors; both mentors and mentees can register for the event at the time of the gathering.

     As well, in collaboration with the Canadian Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies (CACLALS), this year’s “Aboriginal Roundtable” will bring together artists, activists, and academics who will engage the conference theme  Those interested in participating in the roundtable as featured speakers, please contact Deanna Reder at

     ILSA will also include interdisciplinary sessions with ACCUTE, ACQL, and APFUCC.

     The deadline for all proposals is February 1st, 2018.  All proposals should be sent to

     If you do not receive an acknowledgment of your proposal within 7 days, please contact the ILSA council members directly, especially ILSA President Jesse Archibald-Barber, ILSA Secretary Sarah Henzi, or ILSA Registrar Sandie Dielissen.  We remind you that prospective participants must be members in order to present at ILSA 2018 in Regina.

     Membership Rates are $40 (faculty) or $20 (students, community members, or underwaged) for one year. Please visit our website at to complete your membership.

     Thank you for your continued support. Please note that for the 2017-2018 year, we will be using this email,; we encourage our members to contact the ILSA Council directly should you have any concerns or ideas you wish to share. 

The Indigenous Literary Studies Association Council 2017-2018

Jesse Archibald-Barber, President (

Michelle Coupal, President Elect (

Sarah Henzi, Secretary (

Aubrey Hanson, Treasurer (

Svetlana Seibel, Early Career Member (

Jordan Abel, Early Career Member (

Deanna Reder, Past President (

Sandie Dielissen, Registrar (