Tule Mat House: A Photo Essay by Jill Janvier

2017 summer intensive

8_(sm)_Whole Tipi

Reflections: Tule Mat House Project
July 11-14, 2017

I got involved with the Tule Mat Tipi Project because I was really interested in how ancient knowledges continue to inform ways of building. In addition, the organizer Mariel Belanger, asked me to photograph her performance during the Tipi take down on July 14th.

When I arrived on the first day, Mariel was putting up a banner that acknowledged the Tuum Est fund as the sponsor. I was even more excited to see a good dozen or so people who were also there to help.When I arrived on the first day, Mariel was putting up a banner that acknowledged the Tuum Est fund as the sponsor. I was even more excited to see a good dozen or so people who were also there to help.7(sm)_Mariel Cutting

Our mentor and instructor, Dr. Shawn Brigman, drove from Spokane with a truck full of Tule mats. He was an excellent instructor who encouraged us to assist, while graciously sharing parts of his much earned knowledges.

As I worked, it became apparent how a traditional home like this Tipi was best built with teamwork. This strongly reinforced the need for family and community unity in Indigenous tribes since time immemorial.

6_(sm)_Shawn The Boss.I also found this to be an empowering experience as a guest in the unceded Syilx territory because it validated that Indigenous people have things in common like industriousness, kinship, values, architecture, and land based knowledges. It was also the first time that I was able to engage in an Indigenous-led, experiential learning on the campus, outside of the classroom… without books, computers, or papers and pens.

I also enjoyed listening to Mariel and Dr. Margo Tamez talk about how they felt profound value in reclaiming Indigenous practices and spaces. They also talked of continuing with similar projects in the near future.

I was honored to just be present, and I gained a deep appreciation for how the materials worked together. Some materials were old harvests from ten (or more) years ago, while others were harvested on the day of construction.

The building and community based sharing over the four day period sent a strong and simple statement… WE (The Syilx People) ARE HERE. This is a profoundly timeless statement…

I saw in Mariel a sense o3a._(sm)_teamwork.f bliss each day that I was at the Tipi. And while she had a very personalized artistic purpose in coordinating this project, I also believe it was her vision to foster community appreciation for the earth-based knowledges that Dr. Brigman had to share.

This project was indescribably wholesome, and it is my most treasured UBCO experience to date.

Jill Janvier, Denesuline, UBCO BFA Student

4_(sm)_Timeless Hands

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