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Love after the End: An Anthology of Two-Spirit and Indigiqueer Speculative Fiction

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Lambda Literary Award winner

This exciting and groundbreaking fiction anthology showcases a number of new and emerging 2SQ (Two-Spirit and queer Indigenous) writers from across Turtle Island. These visionary authors show how queer Indigenous communities can bloom and thrive through utopian narratives that detail the vivacity and strength of 2SQness throughout its plight in the maw of settler colonialism’s histories.

Here, readers will discover bio-engineered AI rats, transplanted trees in space, the rise of a 2SQ resistance camp, a primer on how to survive Indigiqueerly, virtual reality applications, motherships at sea, and the very bending of space-time continuums queered through NDN time. Love after the End demonstrates the imaginatively queer Two-Spirit futurisms we have all been dreaming of since 1492.

Contributors include Darcie Little Badger, Mari Kurisato, Kai Minosh Pyle, David Alexander Robertson, and jaye simpson.

ISBN-13: 9781551528113

Media Type: Paperback

Publisher: Arsenal Pulp Press Limited

Publication Date: 10-20-2020

Pages: 224

Product Dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

Joshua Whitehead is an Oji-nêhiyaw, Two-Spirit member of Peguis First Nation (Treaty 1) in manitowapow. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Calgary and the author of the poetry collection full-metal indigiqueer and the Lambda Literary Award-winning novel Jonny Appleseed.

Read an Excerpt

Joshua Whitehead

Love after the End: An Anthology of Two-Spirit and Indigiqueer Speculative Fiction is a project I am humbled to be a part of. Originally, the project was geared towards the dystopian, but after careful consideration, we decided to queer it more towards the utopian. This, in my opinion, was an important political shift in thinking about the temporalities of Two-Spirit, queer, trans, and non-binary Indigenous ways of being. For, as we know, we have already survived the apocalypse; this, right here, right now, is a dystopian present — what better way to imagine survivability than to think about how we may flourish into being joyously animated rather than merely alive?
When I think about the trajectory of queer literature, primarily queer young adult literature, I take note of its breadth, and its longevity, yet it wasn’t until 1982, when Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden sprung onto the stage with a queer bildungsroman, that we witnessed our first “happy ending.” In her blog post “Queer Fatalism,” Sara Ahmed writes of fate and the fatal as overlapping with categorizations of queer inasmuch as, she argues, “queer fatalism = queer as fatal.” Within Indigenous ways of being with the term “queer,” which we have now braided into our linguistic systems, we are well aware of the fatalism of queerness from the beginning of colonial expansion on Turtle Island in 1492—a small marker in the longevity of our temporalities. One example is George Catlin, an American painter who “specialized” in portraits of Indigenous peoples across the Plains in an attempt to “save” them through memorialization. His painting Dance to the Berdache depicts what he calls a “berdache,” an outdated and offensive term that has since been removed from our lexicons and replaced in 1990 with the term “Two-Spirit” being celebrated and brought into community. Upon witnessing a Two-Spirit person cohabitating harmoniously within their peoplehoods, Catlin announced, “This is one of the most unaccountable and disgusting customs that I have ever met in Indian country…I should wish that it might be extinguished before it be more recorded.” Our Indigiqueerness has always signalled fatalism in the eyes of colonial powers, primarily the white gaze, from the directed killings of Two-Spirit peoples during Western expansion, through to contemporary erasures and appropriations of the term “Two-Spirit” by settler queer cultures who idealize, mysticize, and romanticize our hi/stories in order to generate a queer genealogy for settler sexualities. I write this during the massive global climate strike, the onslaught of colonial consumption bringing about the end of the world, the era of Trump and Trudeau’s proposed pipelines, and the newly cresting wave of Two-Spirit, queer, trans, and non-binary writing in the nation-state we call Canada. These, I believe, go hand in hand — both destruction and the thrum of collective singing. Hence, utopias are what we have to build, and build now, in order to find some type of sanctuary where we and all others can live — there is no plan, or planet, B for us to turn to.
In nêhiyâwewin we have the word “nîkânihk” for “in the future,” and within that word is “nikânah,” or “put her/him in front.” Here, in this anthology, we have done just that: we have put Two-Spiritedness in the front, for once, and in that leading position we will walk into the future, in whatever form that may take, hand in hand, strong, resilient, extraneously queer, and singing a round-dance song that calls us all back in together. I bring forward this short, concise history in order to say: we have lived in torture chambers, we have excelled under the weight of killing machinations, we’ve hardened into bedrock, but see how our bodies dazzle in the light.
The stories in this collection exude the beauty, care, deadliness, and majesty of Two-Spirit folx from a variety of Indigenous nations. Take, for example, Gabriel Calderon’s “Aanwànikàdjigan,” which tells the story of Winu and Bèl, two ayakwe, who etch markings onto their bodies in order to become “memorizers,” or living archives, while captive, and in a tender moment kiss “like the world was ending, but really, wasn’t it already over?”
Find the reprisal of David Alexander Robertson’s heroes from Love Beyond Body, Space and Time (Bedside Press, 2016) in “Eloise,” a story that plays with cyberpunk elements — think Neuromancer’s digital realm meets the interactivity of Ready Player One — in a virtual world called the Gate where a downloadable application condenses a fantastical life into a series of minutes. The Gate reads like an inverted type of conversion therapy used as nostalgic reparative work for mourning, love, and the dying. In Kai Minosh Pyle’s “How to Survive the Apocalypse for Native Girls” we are guided by three powerful characters, Migizi, Shanay, and Nigig, and we find a wonderful gifting, a weaving of Afrofuturism with Indigenous futurism as a way of simultaneously holding ancestors and descendants in the same palm as we are taught to “watch those in power carefully.”
In jaye simpson’s “The Ark of the Turtle’s Back” we witness the destruction of Earth, one affected by “the International Water Ration of 2167,” and a space voyage where buffalo and life forms are terraformed onto a new planet within a star’s hospitable zone, a planet uncolonized but infantile and helped to develop, where the answer to the question “How do we build a relationship with [a] new planet?” is “like all consensual relationships, we ask them out.”
In Nazbah Tom’s “Nameless” we witness the connection between Jennifer, an enby (non-binary) counsellor, and K’é, a Traveller who can move between this world and the next. Tom’s story reminds me of Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony, as we learn how kinship transcends time through K’é, who works to call ancestors home.
In Mari Kurisato’s “Seed Children,” another sequel story from Love Beyond Body, Space and Time, we are introduced to the Children of the Light, synthetic NDNs who battle their enemies and are transplanted to a new, hospitable world, Rose Dawn, by travelling in a seed spaceship known as the Great Tree. Kurisato’s deployment of synth and cyborg bodies weaves wonderfully with queer Indigeneity inasmuch as we ponder the ethics and morality of what governs the right of a person, or people, if they’re augmented with metal or, more specifically here, queered through steel.
In Darcie Little Badger’s “Story for a Bottle” we find a floating city, New America, with a rogue operating system named Olivia—I’m reminded here of the film Her, as Little Badger peppers the story with heartfelt existential conversations between humans and AI. In Nathan Adler’s “Abacus” we are introduced to the titular character, a bio-computing AI and Ojibwe rat, and Dayan, a seventeen-year-old Anishinaabe, who fall in love through their avatars in a cybernetic landscape known as ve-ar.
Lastly, in Adam Garnet Jones’s “The New World” we are brought into a world on the brink of collapse where the only saving grace is a haven known as the Rainbow Camp, where “a group of NDNs raised a rainbow flag with a warrior head on it.”

I’d like to end with a short story of my own. While visiting my homeland in Manitoba, Peguis First Nation, in the summer of 2019, I visited an auntie who is a medicine woman to ask for bear root and bear grease for my travels home. That summer saw many tribulations for my body, spirit, and mind, so I was in desperate need of maskihkiy. While I was sitting with her, she asked me who the bear grease was for, since it is primarily a medicine to heal and alleviate the pains attributed to ailments like fibromyalgia, arthritis, and chronic pain. Since I usually “butch” my femme self up when visiting home, for fear of being ostracized or worse, I told her it was for a friend of mine. Although this auntie and I are not close in terms of our personal lives, she knew what I meant when I said “a friend.” “For a loved one?” she asked, and I bowed my head and nodded. She knew that this maskihkiy was for a partner, lover, caretaker of mine, for whom I, in turn, needed to reciprocate that same care during a time of extreme bodily duress. She knew the medicine was for a queer nicîmos. She just giggled to herself and went into her storage room to get what I needed, and we traded thanks, tobacco, and hugs.
While we waited for our uncles to finish their cigarettes and chatter on the porch, she asked me if I had harvested any maskihkiy recently. I nodded and told her I had picked some sage and juniper in Manitoba just a week before, but I had a hard time finding what I needed in the latitudes of the rolling prairies. So she told me a story, as aunties are wont to do. Auntie noted that she, too, had difficulty finding sweetgrass—a medicine she needed for her community — in an open field before. “In these moments of need, the Creator always knows,” she told me. “So what I did was I put medicine down, prayed to Creator, told them what I needed and why I needed it, and I smudged right there in the open field.” And, as all aunties do, the cadence of her carefully chosen words reeled and lulled everyone in her vicinity. “And after I finished and opened my eyes, there it was: wîhkaskwa, glowing there in them fields like hair on fire. I knew that Creator had opened my eyes to see the kin I needed to find — our medicines. We need only humble ourselves and be unafraid to ask for help in times of need for us to receive exactly what it is we need.” This story was one of ethical harvesting, yes, but it was also a story she was telling me, and all of us by extension, of how to find what we need when we need it: through community and through our relations. So, here, in the opening pages of this anthology, I too put medicine down for you so that you may see the braids of Two-Spiritedness glowing in the glaze of ink on page. And I hear my Two-Spirit persona Jonny Appleseed reverberating in my thorax, aching to sing: “We are our own best medicine.”
Kinânâskomitin to everyone in this anthology, who trusted me with their work and equipped themselves with beaded breastplates and dentalium earrings in order to tell you their stories. I invite you to relish in these oratories, find what you need, and harvest earnestly so as to save the roots, because these are the stories we need now more than ever: stories of earth, mothers, queer love, trans love, animality, kinship, and a fierce fanning of care. Here’s a small fragment of our kisemanitonahk. Nîkânihk, see you in the future, nitotemak.

Table of Contents

Introduction Joshua Whitehead 9

Abacus Nathan Adler 17

History of the New World Adam Garnet Jones 35

The Ark of the Turtle's Back Jaye Simpson 61

How to Survive the Apocalypse for Native Girls Kai Minosh Pyle 77

Andwànikàdjigan Gabriel Castilloux Calderon 95

Story for a Bottle Darcie Little Badger 113

Seed Children Mari Kurisato 135

Nameless Nazbah Tom 147

Eloise David A. Robertson 167

About the Contributors 191