Reflections on “Over the Levee, Under the Plow”
Nicholas Brown, Ryan Griffis, Sarah Kanouse

Two banners reading “Meet you here” and “Upon our lands” in picnic shelter near river.
Two banners reading “Meet you here” and “Upon our lands” in picnic shelter near river.
Dylan AT Miner / This Land is Always. Blackhawk Park, De Soto, WI. An excerpt of the artist’s 2018 installation , originally created for the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership at Kalamazoo College.

Arriving in cars, vans, pick-ups, and canoes, a group slowly assembled under an overcast sky on the banks of the Mississippi in a place called Blackhawk Park, near the small town of DeSoto, Wisconsin. As organizers of the convocation for Anthropocene Drift (Field Station 2), we believed it was necessary to acknowledge that we were gathering on Indigenous land. On Ho-Chunk land. However, we chose not to begin our program, Over the Levee, Under the Plow, with a formal land acknowledgement. Rather, we viewed the five-day seminar — itself building on eighteen months of focused research and planning — as a prolonged land acknowledgement, and also a concerted attempt to move beyond acknowledgement. …

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Left: Bill Quackenbush leads a tour of Ho-Chunk lands in the Kickapoo Valley Reserve, 2017. Right: A visit to an Illinois organic farm, 2008.

This traveling seminar considers the ongoing geological, biological, and social formation of the Midwest in order to locate the historical, political and philosophical roots of the environmental crisis as it manifests in this territory. The seminar unfolds over five days in the landscape marked physically by the action of glaciers, shaped by the enduring presence of Indigenous nations, and defined politically by the colonization that intensified after the 1832 Black Hawk conflict. …

Sarah Kanouse

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