Today I received copies of Buffalo Shout, Salmon Cry: Conversations on Creation, Land Justice, and Life Together, edited by Steve Heinrichs. As I hold the finished work in my hands, it still smells like fresh ink. And the amazing cover art by Jonathan Erickson (Nak’azdli, Carrier-Sekani) of the Buffalo carrying with her the life and bones of the Salmon pushed me to tears. It’s so beautiful.
Steve contacted me more than a year ago asking if I’d write a poetic response to Randy Woodley’s brilliant essay “Early Dialogue in the Community of Creation.” I was honored, but really had no idea what a watershed book I was being invited into. (See the Table of Contents.) I contributed adapted sections of my unpublished poetry manuscript Saarinen’s Arch and Steve was kind enough to include them.
Buffalo Shout, Salmon Cry is a book that deeply engages the question: How can North Americans come to terms with the lamentable clash between Indigenous and settler cultures, spiritualities, and attitudes toward creation?
Buffalo Shout offers up alternative histories, radical theologies, and subversive memories that can unsettle our souls and work toward reconciliation. It showcases a variety of voices–both traditional and Christian, Native and non-Native.
Many of the Native writers are theologians and scholars affiliated with the 10-year-old North American Institute for Indigenous Theological Studies (NAIITS), which was formed “in response to the inability of the Christian evangelical church to include Native North Americans in a manner that affirmed who their Creator has shaped them to be.”
NAIITS has just signed an agreement with George Fox University, where Randy Woodley teaches indigenous studies, to deliver theological education for Native North Americans and other indigenous people using a curriculum developed by NAIITS. Buffalo Shout, Salmon Cry will likely be a primary textbook for this new joint venture.
Here’s an excerpt from Steve Heinrich’s introduction:
…[The prophet] Jonah is not a white Mennonite settler like me, but stands among and with the colonized. He’s a word-swinging Lakota warrior (think Vine Deloria Jr.), a Sto:lo poet of colonial deconstruction (think Lee Maracle), a shouting buffalo, a weeping salmon, coming out from the shadows of the rez and urban occupied territories to confront the privileged powerful. This Jonah speaks unsettling truths, not to save the empire, but to stop its rapacious ways in defense of all relations, including us settlers.
This is what the book in your hands is about. It’s a Jonah text, perhaps as scandalous, implausible, and necessary as that old anti-imperial myth. A bunch of Jonahs and several settler-ally friends have come together to speak a word to, against, and for the dominant settler-colonial culture in North America. Some employ sharp rhetoric akin to that of the disgruntled prophet; others speak in more hopeful terms. They certainly don’t agree on everything. But they all do sound (with maybe one or two exceptions) a common warning: the controlling culture is violently sick, devastating people and lands. The need is urgent: repent, resist, do something.”
You can order Buffalo Shout, Salmon Cry here.