This ahkuhq (cooking vessel), “Earth Bound,” was created by Nosapocket (Ramona Peters., b. 1952) for Harvard Divinity School in 2022. Its elements include clay (shell, rock, minerals, memory, experience, ancestral DNA: animal, plant, human), a black clay slip, and white clay inlay.
Gathered, kneaded, coiled, scored, and smoothed by hand, the ahkuhq embodies the nutrients, relations and poetics that have long invigorated Wampanoag life. Born out of the intimate connection between the flesh of clay and the discerning hands of Mashpee Wampanoag educator and intellectual Nosapocket, this animate clay-being vigorously asserts an enduring Indigenous presence on the land where Swartz Hall now stands.
From its female body to its male head, each curve, groove, color and material tells a story: stories that recognize colonial influence (the white dots) but defy narratives of Indigenous impoverishment and erasure; stories that celebrate deep histories and far-reaching futurities of Wampanoag ingenuity and self-governance (the brown skin of the vessel); stories that grieve the diseases of anti-blackness and ecological destruction (the black band); and stories that offer potent alterNative visions of spiritual life in relation to the array of beings who, like this vessel, draw their beingness from the waters and lands of the Native Northeast.
—by Anthony Trujillo (Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo) ; Photos and videos by Anthony Trujillo
The ahkuhq was commissioned by the Swartz Hall Art Committee, with support from the Harvard Culture Lab Innovation Fund. For more information on the piece and to hear from the artist, watch the videos below.