Spiral to the Stars

Mvskoke Tools of Futurity

Laura Harjo (Author)
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All communities are teeming with energy, spirit, and knowledge, and Spiral to the Stars taps into and activates this dynamism to discuss Indigenous community planning from a Mvskoke perspective. This book poses questions about what community is, how to reclaim community, and how to embark on the process of envisioning what and where the community can be.

Geographer Laura Harjo demonstrates that Mvskoke communities have what they need to dream, imagine, speculate, and activate the wishes of ancestors, contemporary kin, and future relatives—all in a present temporality—­which is Indigenous futurity.

Organized around four methodologies—radical sovereignty, community knowledge, collective power, and emergence geographies—Spiral to the Stars provides a path that departs from traditional community-making strategies, which are often extensions of the settler state. Readers are provided a set of methodologies to build genuine community relationships, knowledge, power, and spaces for themselves. Communities don’t have to wait on experts because this book helps them activate their own possibilities and expertise. A detailed final chapter provides participatory tools that can be used in workshop settings or one on one.

This book offers a critical and concrete map for community making that leverages Indigenous way-finding tools. Mvskoke narratives thread throughout the text, vividly demonstrating that theories come from lived and felt experiences. This is a must-have book for community organizers, radical pedagogists, and anyone wishing to empower and advocate for their community.
“This country’s first philosophers, poets, artists, and knowledge keepers were Indigenous peoples. The Mvskoke were a major cultural force in the southeast. Laura Harjo’s Spiral to the Stars: Mvskoke Tools of Futurity marks a continuation of the development of our cultural knowledge. Community defines us, and we do not go forward together without the revisioning of all elements that make a living culture. Each generation makes a concentric circle that leans outward into the deepest star knowledges even as it leans inward toward the roots of earth knowledge. We are still here within the shape of this cultural geography. We keep moving forward with the tools Harjo has illuminated here. Mvto.”—Joy Harjo (Mvskoke), U.S. Poet Laureate

“Laura Harjo’s Spiral to the Stars clearly articulates the importance of Mvskoke futurity. All Indigenous communities can use this book as a tool for decolonizing knowledge.” —Michelle M. Jacob (Yakama), University of Oregon

Spiral to the Stars is a rigorous, heartfelt, and urgent contribution to Mvskoke studies. Laura Harjo develops and validates a collection of way-finding tools—Mvskoke knowledges, methodologies, and practices—that are critical to (re)claiming Indigenous futurities.”—Kimberly Robertson (Mvskoke), California State University, Los Angeles

“When Laura Harjo defines futurity as ‘the act of living out the futures we wish for in a contemporary moment’ she refines and extends understandings of the timelessness of our common dreams offered by C. L. R. James, José Esteban Muñoz and Jack Halberstam. This is great company to keep but what’s most amazing and beautiful is how they are moved to stay with her where she has always stayed in movement—on the path of a tradition as agile as it is rooted, as essentially radical in its transformative memories and commitments as in the way it lifts off into the depths of what it can be, which is what it is. In Spiral to the Stars, Mvskoke knowledge of life, from ancient days through the wreck and reckoning of history to the fiercely futurial urgency of now, is cared for, deepened and lived. With rigorous generosity, Harjo hands us the invaluable gifts she has been given. It’s not enough to thank her; we have to try to keep her company.”—Fred Moten, New York University

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