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This machinima features my avatar, xox, reciting the 18 verses of the traditional Thanksgiving Address. Sometimes known in Kanien’kéha (the Mohawk language) as Ohén:ton Karihwatéhkwen, or sometimes as “the words before all else,” this ancient oration greets and gives thanks to the natural world, including the people, earth, water, plants, animals, wind and more. With this work, I am exploring what it means to say the Ohén:ton Karihwatéhkwen in cyberspace, which is considered very *un* natural. Yet it is still a place where people gather, and many natural resources contribute to its creation and operation.  I am also wondering about the ways that an avatar can give thanks, that a human cannot.

Coming from Kahnawake, a community located in Quebec, I have always had three languages–Kanien’kéha, français and English–in my ears. But the Kanien’kéha was the quietest. In cyberspace, I can enact new realities. As xox progresses through the verses, words in the colonizers’ languages start to disappear, until finally we hear only the Indigenous language.

In my practice I ask myself what aspects of our culture are most significant or essential to our self-identification as a people. Which ones continue to guide us? Which ones can contribute towards the greater society? The Thanksgiving Address reminds us of our relation to everything in the universe, and to be grateful for it all. It is a simple, powerful idea and I would like to see what would happen if everyone did that every day.

Selected Machinimagraphs