We are all trying to Survive.
I want to irritate WHY I do what I do: why I write, why I make jewelry, why I use our medicines, why I work in my Tribal Community, why I bring awareness to certain topics, why I create dialogues of discussion of decolonization.
I am passionately driven to create a better environment for my little red-headed niece, for my other niece who enters the powwow arena half black, for the light skinned princesses. Native beauty comes in every shade, shape and size!
However, in an educational setting this past week, while visiting the Native American studies building, a friend of ours was checking on her classes. She over hears two women talking about our mutual friend. My best friend, Ginger was being attacked for her own action of sovereignty this past summer again. Yes, an experience she already already faced ridicule a whole 4 months ago, again. The decision to dye her hair or represent our culture in a meaningful but contemporary way created hurtful amounts of hatred, cruelty, and bullying. Words from all over Indian Country were shared before even considering a shared historical trauma we all faced, not even considering the battles we were healing from when we entered that arena and danced for our loved ones. They took the judgement of self expression and modernity, and shattered two souls that were already defeated by prejudice systems and cycles of passed on abuse.
Over hearing the conversation and dreading the idea to now have to face a room full in her NAS course where these women would also be, broke her heart. Then me, not being there for her, broke mine. We are fighters both in our own ways. Ginger instantly wanted to throw a uppercut, but I instantly told her to go up to these women and explain historical trauma and entrapment on the Rez and why we need expression of self to regain our voices as a culture. When suppression has been normalized for so long, people need to relearn what control is and be retaught how to own their futures. I wanted her to tell them, “I assumed we were educated enough to understand things evolve. You and I, we left the damn reservation for a reason. We attend what once was and still remains a NON-traditional, primarily exclusive and very privileged institutional education! Why? …to learn and progress!!!” How do you fight colonization, suppression, and generations of passed on historical trauma? But through teachings and education! I screamed through our text heated texts, “Don’t ever apologize though!!! Because we exercised our sovereignty. They wanna talk shit, yet they in a western setting spilling western ideals. Don’t let them take your voice or make you feel any less for the celebration of your culture. You entered that circle with the best intentions.” What creates culture today is a shared similar oppression, not the “rules” of Native-ness because there wouldn’t be fans or dancing backyards or women lifting their feet in arenas today.
Do you feel more native, do you have to see my Tribal ID. Let’s further give into colonization and an oppressor’s standards, by having to justify who I am by busting out another form of tangible entrapment - the enrollment card. Is it traditional to be hurtful, is it traditional to take away the rights of another? By belittling our identity, our own sense of cultural you gave into the prolonged cruel or unjust treatment, we are working so hard to uplift. Colonization’s goal was assimilation of Native Americans to become similar to one's environment, to get rid of our heritage through boarding schools, trapping us on reservations, and through dwindling enrollment systems.
I will continue to fight for progression and decolonization because I want more and we deserve more. I take my sovereignty to the fullest, expressing my sense of self power. I will preach to the world to teach others their own sovereignty.
Sovereignty means the ability to manage their own affairs and exist! To live without burden by the yoke of an outside power determining and re-determining their fate.
How you handle adversity, reflects your progression. Without perseverance there wouldn’t be a
Tribe Called Red
Bethany Yellow Tail
Bunky Echo Hawks
Chief Lady Birds
Steven Paul Judd
Please decolonize your thoughts. Follow these amazing individuals. Educate yourself. I will not be the first to break stereotypes or push standards of white oppression. I will break any box you try to put me in.
You want to remain sovereign and be recognized by the elders who fought so damn hard before us, then please with honor, act like a sovereign!
You are not any “more” Native when you bash your own people, you are not any “more” Native, the second you decide to be mean. The new age Native, the cosmopolitan Indian, the Indigenous artist is a blend of traditional and progression, all we are trying to do is all survive.