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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Oskisihcikêwak / new traditions in Cree two-spirit, gay and queer narratives Scudeler, June


“oskisihcikêwak/New Traditions in Cree Two-Spirit, Gay and Queer Narratives” works in a field where very little historical or foundational material exists. I provide this groundwork for playwright and novelist Tomson Highway and his younger brother, dancer and choreographer René Highway (Woods Cree), and for the performance artist, filmmaker and painter, Kent Monkman (Swampy Cree). Using Cree methodologies, such as wâhkôhtowin or kinship and miyo-wîcêhtowin or getting along with others, the project illustrates how the Highways and Monkman use their art not only to combat racism and homophobia, but more importantly to show the survivance and vibrancy of Indigenous ways of knowing. By using Cree epistemologies, I show how queer theory and queer-of-colour theory can neglect to address colonisation. In four chapters, I show how the Highway brothers “stood together” to form community for their early and undocumented performances, such as New Song . . . New Dance, and through their involvement with Toronto’s Native Earth Performing Arts, Canada’s first professional Indigenous theatre company. I then compare a script written for a made-for-television movie with what it turned into the novel Kiss of the Fur Queen. I then examine Kent Monkman and his establishment of what David Garneau calls “Aboriginal sovereign display territory” in his paintings and performances, and devote a chapter to the work of his alter ego, Miss Chief Eagle Testickle. My overview of the range of media in which these artists worked (film, dance, theatre, painting, performance art) sees this work as a holistic Cree response to colonisation, including sexual colonisation.

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