Spatializing our futurity and relationality: Mvskoke emergence geographies

Laura Harjo

Mississippian Black Metal Grl on a Friday Night

Harjo, Hotvlkuce. "CHAPTER THIRTEEN. Mississippian Black Metal Grl on a Friday Night (2018) with Artist’s Statement." In Otherwise Worlds, pp. 291-294. Duke University Press, 2020.

Hotvlkuce Harjo’s work illustrates an embodied Mississippian-era kin-space-time envelope. Hotvlkuce is a queer, non-binary interdisciplinary artist who applies ancestral knowledge and practices in their artwork, and in doing so produces a space of futurity by depicting ancestral tattooing in their illustrations, we see contemporary urban Mvskoke people with Mvskoke tattoos. Hotvlkuce states “Traditional tattooing with Mvskoke (Creek), Southeastern, and Mississippian cultures was an integral part of identity formation.” (Harjo, 2020, p. 291) Further, Hotvlkuce is guided by community knowledge in urban diasporic spaces, invoking their grandfather’s teachings and memories of Mvskoke values and of tattoos. Drawing on a deep study of Mississippian art, they stylize facial and finger markings in a contemporary context, living the futurity of their Mississippian ancestors as (see “Mississippian Black Metal Grl on a Friday Night”). Here, embodied Mvskoke space, is spatialized futurity and is a nod to ancestral roots, and Black metal which operates as a “place of refuge for many Native generations due to its existence going against nonnormative systems.” (Harjo, 2020, p. 291)

Laura Harjo is a Mvskoke scholar, award winning author, and associate professor in Native American Studies and affiliated faculty in the Regional and City Planning Program at the University of Oklahoma. Her scholarly inquiry is at the intersection of geography and critical ethnic studies with “community” as an analytic focus. Harjo’s research and teaching centers on three areas: spatial storytelling; anti-violence and Indigenous architecture and planning; and community-based knowledge production. Harjo's book, Spiral to the Stars: Mvskoke Tools of Futurity (University of Arizona Press, 2019), employs Mvskoke epistemologies and Indigenous feminisms to offer a community-based practice of futurity.