Whitemud Walking is about the land Matthew Weigel was born on and the institutions that occupy that land. It is about the interrelatedness of his own story with that of the colonial history of Canada, which considers the numbered treaties of the North-West to be historical and completed events. But they are eternal agreements that entail complex reciprocity and obligations. The state and archival institutions work together to sequester documents and knowledge in ways that resonate violently in people’s lives, including the dispossession and extinguishment of Indigenous title to land.
Using photos, documents, and recordings that are about or involve his ancestors, but are kept in archives, Weigel examines the consequences of this erasure and sequestration. Memories cling to documents and sometimes this palimpsest can be read, other times the margins must be centered to gain a fuller picture. Whitemud Walking is a genre-bending work of visual and lyric poetry, non-fiction prose, photography, and digital art and design. "A remarkable work of resistance historiography, Whitemud Walking tracks the poet’s deeply personal investigation of colonial violence and erasure. The book is a masterclass in experimental form that tracks an “all-or-nothing calling” of witness through the literal deconstruction of colonial archival documents, the uncovering and re-visioning of family stories and the poet’s loving and attentive relationship with a particular place. You do not just read this book but experience it with your mind, heart, and spirit." – Gerald Lampert Memorial Award Jury Statement