Behind Every Job Ad in Indigenous Studies

By | 15 May 2023

there are countless meetings at which mouths were fired
like guns in the old familiar campaigns
from which overstretched Native faculty limped home to be nursed by loved ones
or by Netflix or by messenger threads or by many (too many?) bottles of wine

there are policy documents that do nothing
trumpeting fashionable virtue via a PR machine with phrases sweated over (bled over)
as if those who run the show were ever going to let any of the words run off the page
to change the world anyway

there are contingent sessional part time temporary contracts
bearing names of how many Native people who knew the game was rigged but signed anyway
who gave up nights weekends summers health for work the institution wouldn’t even know
was done in its classrooms in its parking lots in its name

there are others, the ones who have already had their first days there,
but have packed up offices and had last days too –
who moved on for whispered reasons that somehow get twisted into cautionary tales
stories of what they did wrong instead of the millions of things they did right

there are administrators decisionmakers faculty donors alums
who still don’t think this is a real field deserving of real investment
who will smile today for photos like so many cheshire cats
while prepping phrases for one or three or five or seven years later like ‘i guess it’s a matter of fit’

there are ghosts and mysteries and entities
seeping through floorboards
roaming hallways
resting in doorways
looking for descendants
holding with love those they find
trying to warn them about how this story so often ends

so go ahead, Indigenous scholars: apply for these jobs! get them!
be amazing! teach students! write books!
do all the things we collectively want – need – you to do

but do not do them as the first, as the one and only
don’t allow them to turn this into a first encounter scene

do these jobs with guts and support
do them with righteous anger and rigour and love

but most of all do them knowing every moment every day every season
all of those who have come before and around you

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