In this piece of prose, author and poet Jordan Angunayuak Carpenter examines the act of living through one’s relations, and attempts to understand the generational power held within a name. He explores the ancestral powers and responsibilities rested in one’s heritage, and the burden of living into a name within the reality of continuing colonialism.
Carpenter delves into the tactics used by governments in their attempts to stifle and asphyxiate Indigenous imaginations, while also speaking to the inherent resiliency of children, despite the efforts of entire empires. He ends with an affirmation: names are only given power by those they inhabit, and his determination is fully realized in his declaration to live up to his namesake.
Jimmy Memogana Hunter and Bears (1978) Courtesy Spirit Wrestler Gallery
a hunter calculates. plans. executes. envelopes their prey, smothering the target in their gaze. a hunter kills, and revels in their success, as their namesake demands.
i know these things, yet i am no hunter.
i often wonder what my grandfather foresaw upon gifting me this name. a revelation, or a meeting, or a prayer. he rested his dreams in my bones, whispered wind through my arteries. he gave me the gift of seeing through time, to a reality hidden in the space between words. a glimpse of a vision of a world uncluttered, clean and clear as new snow. fresh. ready for the hunt.
the inhuman hunt. government sanctioned killings. release a pox, and tell the prey to eat their own entrails if they wish to escape. demand servitude and destroy those who still dream. drown them in the putrefying and intoxicating miasma of “modernity” as the memory of their self suffocates. for in their breath lies the secret, a world revolution too dangerous to let bloom in a yet unbroken heart. but everything can be broken, given time, as any good hunter knows.
yet, despite everything, my father learned how to survive in an environment far colder, far lonelier, than any night on the land. ingenuity and fortitude forged themselves within him, a natural response to unnatural realities. his name was replaced by a number, a demarcation of dominance, a code meant to track patterns and movements, and not if he had eaten that day. starvation is a tool of any competent hunter, of course.
but children can find the singular glowing ember in a mountain of ash. to be named so callously yet with such cruel serendipity is not a joke lost on the young. fanciful tales of espionage and daring, secrecy and sovereignty, just because of three simple digits. after all, who wouldn’t want to be known as agent double-oh-seven in those brief respites during recess?
diminutive amidst concrete monoliths, fog singed purple with toxins, invisible hunters wielding thought and time, unseen through the tangled undergrowth of disparate unrelations. voice without echo, absorbed into the void between consciousnesses.
but my grandfather named me. his words are great quilts, woven with sinew and fat, gristle and heat, and they swathe me in the inextinguishable flames of my ancestors. i am made holy in the light of their fires, cleansed, renewed.
and in their name, i will learn to hunt.
Read More Atiq (Naming Your Soul)
This series was made possible with the generous support of the Ontario Arts Council.
This series was made possible with the generous support of the TD Ready Commitment.