Live Long and Make Bannock

By Drew Hayden Taylor

DrewHaydenTaylor

A mil­lion years ago when I was a child, I was always fas­ci­nat­ed by what could be. I think this was pri­mar­i­ly because I was sur­round­ed by what was. As a Native per­son, I was con­stant­ly made aware of our her­itage, our cul­ture, every­thing from the past that made us unique and spe­cial. Also I was con­scious of the fact that – tech­no­log­i­cal­ly speak­ing – we were at a bit of a dis­ad­van­tage to those who showed up one day for din­ner and nev­er left. I remem­ber the first time I saw tele­vi­sion, played with a com­put­er, watched Star Trek, and got an elec­tric tooth­brush. Darn clever those White peo­ple. Native peo­ple con­stant­ly won­der at the clever inno­va­tions and devices the dom­i­nant cul­ture feels the need to cre­ate – every­thing from vibra­tors to nuclear bombs. 

As a fan of writ­ing, why shouldn’t my fas­ci­na­tion extend to lit­er­a­ture? Part of my jour­ney in this life both as a First Nation indi­vid­ual and as a writer is to expand the bound­aries of what is con­sid­ered Native lit­er­a­ture. We have many fab­u­lous and incred­i­bly tal­ent­ed writ­ers in our com­mu­ni­ty, but some crit­ics might argue our lit­er­ary per­spec­tive is a lit­tle too pre­dictable: often his­tor­i­cal­ly based, fre­quent­ly deal­ing with the tragedies of col­o­niza­tion, com­mon­ly bleak and depress­ing. But why can’t it be more!?!?

Much like Star Trek’s Enter­prise, there is so much out there to explore. Out of sheer inter­est and a grow­ing sense of excite­ment, I want­ed to go where no oth­er (or very few) Native writ­ers had gone before. So I wrote come­dies. I wrote an Ojib­way vam­pire nov­el. I wrote a musi­cal. I wrote mag­ic real­ism. And so on and so on.

Now, as we are well into the 21st cen­tu­ry, I want­ed to explore the con­cept of Native sci­ence fic­tion, a phrase fre­quent­ly viewed as an oxy­moron. It seemed intrigu­ing to take the con­cepts of tra­di­tion­al (a word of mixed mean­ings in the Native com­mu­ni­ty) sci­ence fic­tion char­ac­ter­is­tics and fil­ter them through an abo­rig­i­nal con­scious­ness. The final prod­uct is a book of short sto­ries I wrote that will be out in Octo­ber titled Take Me to Your Chief and Oth­er Sto­ries. It will explore time trav­el, arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence, alien land­ings, gov­ern­ment con­spir­a­cies, talk­ing toy robots, and Native super­heroes – all com­plete with beads and blankets.

It’s fre­quent­ly said how hard and dif­fi­cult being a writer can be. But on occa­sion, it can be a hell of a lot of fun.

 

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Drew Hay­den Tay­lor is a pro­lif­ic author and play­wright with over 27 pub­lished books and numer­ous writ­ing awards to his cred­it. He was born and raised on the Curve Lake First Nation in Ontario, Cana­da, and still lives there.