Native Steampunk

Posted on September 18, 2009, 12:52 am, by Elizabeth LaPensée, under INSPIRATION.

As we recolonize cyberspace and re-envision technology for Aboriginal means, I am brought back to the Steampunk genre time and time again. For those unaware, steampunk, simply put, is a genre of fiction that re-imagines a past with steam-based technology. (Notably, steampunk has become a fashion and an aesthetic.) However, most steampunk, despite being based in Victorian or Western times, overlooks Native (Native American, First Nations, Aboriginal, Indigenous) representations and forms of technology and aesthetics that did exist.

There has long been a stereotype that Native people are technology illiterate, which it entirely untrue. Indigenous knowledge of technology is just simply different–it takes on a holistic viewpoint with collective memory.

To combat these misconceptions, I have looked to the past to inform the future, and bring my writing and aesthetic interests to a new sub-genre of fiction, art, and fashion–Aboriginal or Native Steampunk.

This work is for me, for every part of me, that buzzes and spins until I get it out. Tonight, I’ll share with you a quick concept sketch for my typewriter. I intend to make it out of copper, brass, woods, with accompanying birch bark scrolls. The keys are syllabics from Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe, Ojibway, Ojibwa). It embodies a large part of who I am.

Aboriginal Steampunk Typewriter Concept, Beth Aileen Lameman 2009

Aboriginal Steampunk Typewriter Concept, Beth Aileen Lameman 2009

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