February 09, 2012

All about Jason EagleSpeaker

Jason EagleSpeaker, a.k.a. Luke WarmWater, a.k.a. OHK-SIIK-IIMI

By Lynn Calf RobeJason EagleSpeaker is a self-made graphic novelist, nationally published author and entrepreneur, and self-proclaimed “half buffalo ndn and half salmon ndn” (otherwise known as half Blackfoot and Duwamish) with family ties to the Kainai Nation and Muckleshoot Tribe. He created a business venture that includes www.eaglespeaker.com and a non-profit organization called The Connection. Front and center on his website is the quote, “We’re More Than Just Beads and Feathers,” so I asked what that means to him. “It is a life philosophy I learned when I was 10,” he replies. “It’s also kind of a long story, so I’ll try to break it down. After my grandpa passed away, I was back dancing in front of HUGE crowds at the Calgary Stampede grandstand, just like I had since I was a toddler. This time was different, though. I looked into the audience and wondered, ‘Why do they cheer wildly for me when I am wearing my [powwow] outfit and entertaining them, but ridicule and even laugh at me when I am wearing street clothes?’” He used the phrase as the title of a recently published graphic novella he helped create with McGraw Hill Ryerson, an international education publisher. The book itself is part of an anthology called iLit: Strength & Struggle: Perspectives of First Nations, M├ętis, and Inuit People.

EagleSpeaker is a natural born businessman, starting his first venture selling Christmas trees and frybread kits as a kid. He also made extra cash collecting bottles at the local powwows. “I’ve been an entrepreneur since I was 7. I was the only kid on the rez running my own Christmas Tree lot every year… the only kid selling frybread kits in ziplock bags. I was also that one kid at the powwow who grabbed the pop can from your hands while you were still drinking it.”

The nature of his business is broad but he sums it up as “Inspiration by example. Our community is often TOLD what to do. Rarely are we SHOWN what to do.” He recently published UNeducation: A Residential School Graphic Novel, depicting a family’s experience in Canada’s residential school system. “It’s the chilling chronicles of a family’s government-sanctioned exploitation in residential schools. No statistics, no data, no numbers—just pure raw visceral emotion and experience. You can’t minimize genocide.”
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Comic Books Featuring Indians.

No comments: