Contracolonial Practices in Salish Sea Namescapes




Shortreed, Kim

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This portfolio dissertation emerges from the observation that Indigenous and settler toponyms are fundamentally unequal in the Salish Sea’s diverse namescape. To explore these toponymic inequities, I ask the following question: if settlers and their toponymic systems fail to make space for or to acknowledge Indigenous toponymies in the Salish Sea, particularly in W̱SÁNEĆ territories, what do these failures say about the settler state’s approaches to attendant questions around land and, ultimately, space for Indigenous worldviews? To answer this question, I examine toponymic justice and Indigenous/settler toponymic equity through thematically linked but separate articles, a public-facing blog, and an interactive art installation. The prologue situates me as a settler scholar attempting to do anticolonial scholarship and art. The introduction frames my academic perspectives on toponyms and settler approaches to understanding Indigenous toponymic resurgence. In the first article, I discuss the PKOLS/Mount Douglas toponym(s) and renaming ceremony and explore “decolonization” through toponymic means. In the second article, I analyze toponymic power dynamics in the Salish Sea, by conceptualizing a “panoptoponymy”—a toponymic version of a panopticon—and describing its toponymic-power functions through the example of the British Columbia Geographical Names Office. In the third article—through a skateboarding lens and the voices of some Indigenous skaters, artists, and writers—I conceive of and define a “skatescape”: a geospatial awareness particular to skateboarders. The fourth article is a manifesto that details the theory and practice involved in building the first prototype of a “haptic map,” an interactive art-map installation the features audio recordings of both SENĆOŦEN (a language spoken by W̱SÁNEĆ Peoples) and English toponyms. The final article is a collection of the public-facing blog posts that discuss the construction of the first haptic map prototype, the Untitled ṮEṮÁĆES map, and provide thoughts and resources on toponyms. I contend that the Untitled ṮEṮÁĆES map, and the way in which it was conceived and constructed, can serve as a model for future academic and artistic collaborations; it is one answer to the question of how to address Indigenous/settler toponymic inequities in the Salish Sea. Built with TEMOSEṈ (Charles “Chazz” Elliott), a professional artist and carver from W̱JOȽEȽP (Tsartlip) First Nation, this unique map offers new ways to represent and combine Indigenous and settler spatial literacies and represents new methodologies for Indigenous/settler cartographic collaborations.



toponyms, Salish Sea, skateboarding, decolonization, art, contracolonialism, place names, W̱SÁNEĆ, SENĆOŦEN, W̱JOȽEȽP, Tsartlip, map, cartography, Indigenous language revitalization, toponymic resurgence, settler studies, British Columbia