Terra Nullius Is Rape Culture #LandBodyDefense

Terra Nullius Is Rape Culture

Original colour photo courtesy of Dayna Danger

TERRA – Earth, NULLIUS – Empty
Empty Earth; the notion that our lands were “uninhabited” and “unused” before European colonist invaders arrived. A foundational colonial logic used to justify the DOCTRINE OF DISCOVERY.

Rape culture is a setting in which rape is pervasive and normalized due to societal attitudes about gender and sexuality

Behaviors commonly associated with rape culture include: victim blaming, sexual objectification, trivializing rape, denial of widespread rape, refusing to acknowledge the harm caused by some forms of sexual violence, or some combination of these

TERRA NULLIUS IS RAPE CULTURE invokes our power (#LandBodyDefense) through the naming of violence that has been so deeply normalized and consequently invisibilized by over 500 years of settlement. To acknowledge it as rape culture is to acknowledge the connectivity between our bodies and our lands, that what happens to our Mother will happen to us, and an awareness that rape is a tool of conquest. 

In this piece we speak back against settler colonial power and cisheteropatriarchy, out-ing this culture of rape as colonial violence which deems these cityscapes as natural, these settler colonies as “Free Worlds” and our bodies as threats – of bloodlines and Nations to be disposed of; dispossessed; violated; taken without consent.

As we tear down the mask of invisibilized, deeply normalized colonial violence on our lands and bodies, we heal ourselves through the power of witnessing our own sexual, emotional, physical, spiritual and land-based traumas. This poster was designed and illustrated by Iako’tsi:rareh Amanda Lickers and the embroidering was done by both Amanda and nîmis Lindsay Nixon (Nehiyaw / Anishinaabe). It is through our kinship that we heal ourselves and our ancestors alike as we embody the wampum agreements which link our peoples on our shared lands. Our kinship is bound by ancient agreements of friendship as Anishinaabek and Haudenosaunee peoples, connected by our histories of mutual aid, respect and caretaking.
13555668_10154319089702658_2047983481_oAs we pass the burning-red threaded needle back and forth, calling in our bloodlines with each stitch, our relatives and relations, our message pokes through to the spirit world. We beckon to the sky world, to those un-seen worlds, whispering, “We are still here, and we have not forgotten our original instructions.” It is through the power of collaboration, community, and kinship that we are able to transcend the isolation of trauma and begin to connect to one another as well as the landscapes whose stories, pain, and sustenance weave through our veins as her children, caretakers, and kin. The skydome is a reminder of the unseen worlds whose fates affect us, of the potential of the unknown, the power of curiosity, and of Sky Woman herself. Sky Woman who fell into this watery-world, whose gratitude and friendship with the four-legged, the winged, the swimmers, and the crawlers birthed the clay and earth from which us two-legged were eventually made. By employing embroidery along the horizon, we are using traditional techniques (sewing) to heal the intense truth of the black and white poster. The skydomes show us that even though we are broken, violated, and experiencing harm, we are still connected to those unseen worlds. The spirits of our territories are always with us. Despite being shattered and separated we are still somehow connected to something much older than this pain, trauma, and suffering. 13555878_10154319089807658_728960677_o But most importantly, these stitches are a reminder that the Sky World is still there, as we are still here. Despite all that has been taken from us the colonizers have not won. 

If we seek to protect our greatest mother against the violations of colonial capitalism and resource extraction, we must understand all the threats that sharpen themselves against her: Perhaps most importantly this culture of rape that was brought here over 500 years ago and has made its twisted marks on our lineages, our family structures, and on our individual and inter-generational bodies of trauma. If we do not centre the experiences of survivors of sexual and intimate violence, if we refuse to interrupt rape culture and revitalize cultures of consent, both over our bodies and our lands, then we will not be able to heal ourselves, our Nations, or our relatives – past and future.

TerraNullius-01nia:wen’kowa Courtney for photo editing support

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