L’nuwelti’k (We Are Indian)
L’nuwelti’k (We Are Indian) was hosted by Prismatic Festival in collaboration with Dalhousie University Art Gallery and the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University in September of 2012.
This was the world premiere of a durational performance of L’nuwelti’k (We Are Indian) by Mi’kmaw artist, Ursula A. Johnson. In the performance Johnson memorialized various Indian Registration and Membership Codes with participation from select volunteers, exploring the correlation of identity associated with these numbers.
The performance was site specific to the library atrium of the Schulich School of Law. The Indian Registration and Membership Codes, such as Status 1, Status 1a., etc. are a direct result of legislations that have been created within the court systems of Canada, and the definition of those membership codes lies in the hands of the lawmakers of this country.
This intervention, where Johnson memorialized the various membership codes with a woven bust, made onsite using the actual person who volunteered according to which code they identified with (Status, Non-Status, “Half-breed”, etc.). Each bust was then out on display in the atrium where they all end up looking almost identical to the one woven before them.
When Johnson was approached by students from the School of Law and they asked what she was doing, she would reply, “Have you heard of the Indian Registry Membership Codes?” one student, placed her briefcase on the floor, crossed her arms and said, “ok, you have 5 minutes!”.
Johnson felt that this conversation needed to be had with the various students who were studying to be the next generation of law makers in Canada’s courts.