Beautifully designed by Opaskwayak Cree graphic designer Sébastien Aubin in a way that highlights the multifaceted works of contemporary Native North American cultural practitioners (visual artists, filmmakers, choreographers, musicians, designers, architects, writers, and scholars), the idea for this nearly 450-page book was envisioned by Mississippi Choctaw and Cherokee artist Jeffrey Gibson years ago. That a project like this would take almost two decades to realize is not surprising given the extent to which it traverses diverse communities (Native American, First Nations, Inuit, and Native Alaskan) and art scenes. In his introduction, Gibson writes that rather than assembling a comprehensive publication, the book is “one artist’s take on the field of contemporary art and culture by Native and Indigenous makers.” Considering that the amount of information, documentation, and analysis in this hefty book is staggering, one can’t even begin to imagine what a definitive project on this transcultural community of makers would look like or if it is even possible. This immediately becomes apparent as one moves through its pages, the sheer volume of which magnifies how mainstream artworld institutions and scholarship are complicit in the erasure, gatekeeping, and misappropriation that have been central to the settler colonial project in North America.
Richly illustrated with hundreds of artwork reproductions, film stills, photographs of performances, and musical scores, the book’s images are arranged in groups between texts so that they seemingly interact while being placed in relation to an essay, poem, reflection, or interview.