The Language of Secret Proof
A book to help preserve secrets and claim territory for indigenous people of Jemez Pueblo
Architectural notation, the precise language by which windows and doors become lines and arcs, typically has little use outside of floor plans. In the book, The Language of Secret Proof: Indigenous Truth and Representation, the architect and researcher Nina Valerie Kolowratnik manages to repurpose this graphic shorthand. With a set of unconventional maps, she employs the tools of architects and planners in service of an Indigenous land claim in the American Southwest. The result is an encrypted notational system that both reveals and obscures the territory. Over several years of research, Kolowratnik designed a unique spatial notation system for the Jemez Pueblo. It documents their connection to the land, without revealing its specific spiritual meanings. She worked alongside Tosa and Christopher Toya, a tribal historic preservation officer. Secrecy, long seen as an obstacle to understanding Indigenous peoples, is instead the foundation for her work.