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Day 23: Our Ancestors See Us

{DISCLAIMER: These reflections are solely my reflections from my journey as a Potawatomi woman. They do not reflect the journey or stories of every indigenous person, and it should not be assumed that every indigenous person has the same experiences. Thank you for joining me here. May we grow toward unity together.}

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The other day at the international market in our city, we swerved in and out of people in crowded aisles to get groceries for the week.

I really love that most Americans are procrastinators, waiting until the last second to buy what we need for a large meal or holiday.

The market stocked extra batches of collards, because we live in the south. There was a heaping mountain of it, bags filling people’s carts.

We bought some, too, just because it seemed right.

After I got a bag of sugar snap peas, I headed to the next bin for snap beans. I stood next to two other women going through the little green poles, sifting the bad ones from the good ones.

Suddenly, memories came rushing back to me– snapping the ends off those beans with my grandmother; washing blackberries in my grandma’s sink, fresh from the bushes outside; collecting pecans from my grandmother’s back yard tree; smelling bacon and biscuits in my grandma’s house.

These matriarchs of both sides of my family were the sort of women who brought you into their everyday spaces, who taught you simply how to be.

I think there are more saints in the world that we give titles to, and so we honor them as our ancestors as well.

We saw Coco in the theatre yesterday, and it brought up those same emotions I’d experienced at the market. We act like there is no connection between the land of the living and the land of the dead–in fact, growing up in the Baptist church such thoughts would be considered demonic.

But the beauty of so many cultures in the world is that we remember who came before us, who carried our cultures on their backs and our languages on their lips. We remember that we belong to people who fought for our good, for our endurance.

And so today, I honor Grandma Downing and Grandmother Goldsmith-Gandy.

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I hold their stories in my own.

And on days like Thanksgiving, holidays that are difficult for indigenous people to wrap our hearts and minds around, we are able to rest in the reality that we are not the first ones to feel this tension. We are not the first ones to hold our tribes and our cultures up and remind the world that we are still here, that we still matter. 

So I honor the ancestors of this land that I live on, the Muskogee-Creek people that used to keep their presence here before they were forced out.

And I honor the women who came before me, my great-great-grandmothers who lived and worked and pursued their own well-being and the well-being of others.

They are the ones I look to today, the ones who teach me how to be Potawatomi.

 

 

 

Day 21: Thanksgiving Resources

{DISCLAIMER: These reflections are solely my reflections from my journey as a Potawatomi woman. They do not reflect the journey or stories of every indigenous person, and it should not be assumed that every indigenous person has the same experiences. Thank you for joining me here. May we grow toward unity together.}

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Today for #NativeAmericanHeritageMonth I’m sharing resources for Thanksgiving, which is just a few days away.

Many people, especially parents, are overwhelmed with the idea of telling the truth about Thanksgiving without traumatizing their kids. I believe it’s important to tell the truth, to put up our saintly ideas of Pilgrims and recognize that entire populations, culture, language-speakers lived here before they ever came to America.

So here are some resources that I find helpful this Thanksgiving season, and I hope they’ll help you spark honest conversations around the table:

  1. This article from Huffington Post is about the Thanksgiving Story, details told that maybe you’ve never heard before.
  2. Anything from Indian Country Media Network is helpful to read when you want to hear the indigenous side of a story. This article is about the Wampanoag side of the Thanksgiving story. 
  3. This is a list of children’s books about Thanksgiving. I told someone recently that adults learn just as much as children do, if not more, from kids’ books. These books are a great place to start. 
  4. My favorite part of this article from PBS is this: “Thanksgiving is full of embarrassing facts. The Pilgrims did not introduce the Native Americans to the tradition; Eastern Indians had observed autumnal harvest celebrations for centuries,” Loewen writes in “Lies My Teacher Told Me”
  5. This video by Teen Vogue is an important watch from the perspective of young indigenous women.
  6. If you truly want to be an ally this Thanksgiving, here’s an article explaining 7 ways you can make that happen. 

Friends, it is worth the undoing of years of education in which we’ve been taught –natives included– that there was a giant, inclusive meal in which everyone was equal. It is worth stretching ourselves to learn the truth and to keep learning it every year around this time, and to include our family in that journey. I encourage you to specifically learn about a new tribe or two every year, to engage the old world of Native peoples right here in America. You’ll be richer for it, I promise.

And if you want to REALLY be challenged this year, I encourage you to buy a new game for your family to play over the holidays. It’s called Cards Against Colonialism, and you can order it here. 

Finally, I’ll leave you with this:

 

Day 20: Backwater Bridge & Police Brutality

{DISCLAIMER: These reflections are solely my reflections from my journey as a Potawatomi woman. They do not reflect the journey or stories of every indigenous person, and it should not be assumed that every indigenous person has the same experiences. Thank you for joining me here. May we grow toward unity together.}

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It was on this day last year that water protectors and protestors at Standing Rock were doused with water in freezing temperatures and shot at with rubber bullets.

I recently tweeted that indigenous people cannot trust institutions, because they are such a key part of our generational trauma, and the events at Standing Rock were a reminder of this for modern times.

My father worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Native American police officers hired by the government to police other Native Americans. When I was young, I didn’t understand what that meant, and I’m still trying to understand it today as an adult. At Standing Rock and throughout the history of the United States, the BIA have played a crucial role between tribes and the government, often in negative ways. It’s important to have conversations about police and systematic brutality toward Native Americans in the United States today, and what happened at Standing Rock one year ago is a clear example of human rights violations on a broad scale.

According to this article, Native Americans suffer brutality at the hands of police at very high rates–higher rates than any other racial or ethnic group in the United States.. Recently, a fourteen year old boy, Jason Pero, was shot by police. His story is just one of many, many that go unheard, justice never reached. Even in the CDC article mentioned above, we suspect that the numbers are higher than reported, because so many don’t even get reported. So many voices are not heard.

And if we aren’t outraged by this, something is wrong–something has been wrong for a while now. In our education systems we have to begin teaching our children the true history of our nation, and we have to teach them how to celebrate the individual tribes and cultures that make up this country.

In our churches we have to have conversations about our history, about boarding schools and the idea of salvation that first began generations of genocide and abuse and removal.

And we have to protest when indigenous men and women are shot, when indigenous women go missing, when human rights abuses take place. We have to make it a point that we do not forget Standing Rock and everything it stood for and continues to teach us.

I sat on my couch for days watching live feeds, and every moment was both teaching me who I was and completely wrecking every part of me. I saw the reality of America, of what it used to be and what it has become, all in front of me, in real time. Backwater Bridge and other episodes of police brutality toward indigenous peoples in America today should be a serious wake up call– a wake up call to the church, to our school systems, to the way we talk about our history.

If we do anything today, let’s make sure we’re having conversations.

Let’s make sure we’re asking questions of institutions that put profit over people.

Let’s make sure we’re paying attention to the cries of a forgotten and silenced earth who should never be silenced.

Let’s make sure we’re listening to those who have been oppressed in so many ways.

Let’s make sure this never happens again.

 

 

 

Day 18: “You Don’t Look Indian”

{DISCLAIMER: These reflections are solely my reflections from my journey as a Potawatomi woman. They do not reflect the journey or stories of every indigenous person, and it should not be assumed that every indigenous person has the same experiences. Thank you for joining me here. May we grow toward unity together.}

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Two years ago when I began to learn more about the Potawatomi tribe, the tribe I’m an enrolled member of, I struggled.

I struggled with being an urban Indian–a Native American living in an urban area.

Mostly I struggled with how to be myself, in my body, with all the stereotypes of what an Indian should be roaming around America.

I felt like I needed to braid my hair every day. I wanted to wear clothing that reflected my culture.

I wanted to decolonize everything–something I’m still doing.

It took me a while to realize that all those years I had short hair and that odd clothing style when I was young, I was still native.  I was still Potawatomi, no matter how I looked.

And that’s part of our problem. Indigenous peoples are trapped in history books, so when you imagine us, we’re wearing buckskin and have long, jet black braids. We wear moccasins and only speak in wise idioms. We have high cheekbones and we wear turquoise jewelry.

In other words, our cultures have all been meshed together and assumed by dominant society as something that many of us aren’t.

I have light skin. And while you can look at my nose and know it’s an Anishinaabe nose, no one has walked up to me and asked what tribe I am from. But when I mention that I am native, I can watch people’s reactions and see what they think and how it changes their perception of me. Some people are curious, some are uncomfortable.

And as a public announcement, let me recommend that non-natives stop asking indigenous people how much native blood we have. I can pull out the card that proves I’m an enrolled member of the Potawatomi tribe, but I shouldn’t have to. That shouldn’t be the thing that shows someone else what kind of blood runs in my veins or how indigenous I am.

And because I live in the middle of Atlanta, far from my own tribe, my native body doesn’t fit the stereotypes, nor do many other indigenous peoples’ bodies. Because the stereotypes about us are stuck in history books, in pictures, and we aren’t allowed to evolve from that.

In cities all across America there are natives, and we do not all look the same. We don’t all speak the same or act the same. Our personalities, our styles, our gifts are unique to our individual tribes and to our individual souls.

No one should ever have to say, “You don’t look Indian,” and no one should ever have to hear it said to them.

I’d like to share one of my favorite music videos with you by one of my favorite groups, A Tribe Called Red. It’s the story of an indigenous person who works in the city and then heads out to the powwow to dance in full regalia.

It is the divide that we have to walk, the divide that has been created over time, that has been forced on us by assimilation. Still, we are here. We are working and creating, we are living and raising families and getting degrees. We make up so much of America, and yet our bodies belong to stereotypes that do not fit who we truly are.

And it needs to change.

May we all be the ones to change it.

 

Day 17: Indigenous Language

{DISCLAIMER: These reflections are solely my reflections from my journey as a Potawatomi woman. They do not reflect the journey or stories of every indigenous person, and it should not be assumed that every indigenous person has the same experiences. Thank you for joining me here. May we grow toward unity together.}

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The first time I listened to an audio recording of the Potawatomi language, I was in theliving room of our two bedroom apartment in Atlanta.

I cried while I listened. The words brought me into myself, back to a time I do no know but wish to understand.

That’s what language does.

I learned Spanish in high school.

I studied Russian in college.

Something about language seems to be this thread that holds the cultures of the world together.

For many tribes, our languages are nearly extinct. There are a few elders left who know the language, who can teach it, and when it is forgotten person by person, after generations it disappears.

Thanks to boarding schools and assimilation in other forms, once you strip a culture of their language, you’ve stripped almost everything.

I didn’t grow up speaking Potawatomi. Hearing it for the first time confirmed that it was something I needed.

Still, it’s a struggle to learn a language if you’re not connected physically to the people who speak it.

I take an online course to learn, and even the very few things I’ve taken in over time are changing me.

Because language is culture.

And so when I learn the words, when I see what they mean and how they work, I understand another piece of the puzzle. I fit something into place and it makes sense. It creates the pictures of my life, my culture, my future and the future of my children.

Every culture’s language does that, and so we celebrate that indigenous cultures have languages to speak that bring beauty to this world, that give us something to learn, something to listen to, something to believe in.

Some public and private schools in certain parts of the country are beginning to teach some indigenous languages, and that’s an encouragement. That’s a step forward.

But we still have a long way to go. We cannot take back the horrors of assimilation that boarding schools in the United States caused, and all the trauma that comes with it even generations later.

But the United States can make a point to honor the language of indigenous peoples, and in doing so, honor cultures as well.

 

Day 16: Indigenous People to Celebrate

{DISCLAIMER: These reflections are solely my reflections from my journey as a Potawatomi woman. They do not reflect the journey or stories of every indigenous person, and it should not be assumed that every indigenous person has the same experiences. Thank you for joining me here. May we grow toward unity together.}

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Here are five indigenous women I’m paying attention to these days, and I hope you’ll pay attention, too.

  1. Tanaya Winder: Tanaya Winder is a writer, educator, motivational speaker, and performance poet from the Southern Ute, Duckwater Shoshone, and Pyramid Lake Paiute Nations. She grew up on the Southern Ute Indian reservation and attended college at Stanford University where she earned a BA in English and the University of New Mexico where she received an MFA in creative writing. Since then she has co-founded As/Us: A Space for Women of the World and founded Dream Warriors, an Indigenous artist management company. She guest lectures, teaches creative writing workshops, and speaks at high schools, universities, and communities internationally. You can order her newest book here. 
  2. Winona LaDuke: Winona LaDuke is an internationally renowned activist working on issues of sustainable development renewable energy and food systems. She lives and works on the White Earth reservation in northern Minnesota, and is a two time vice presidential candidate with Ralph Nader for the Green Party. As Program Director of the Honor the Earth, she works nationally and internationally on the issues of climate change, renewable energy, and environmental justice with Indigenous communities. And in her own community, she is the founder of the White Earth Land Recovery Project, one of the largest reservation based non profit organizations in the country, and a leader in the issues of culturally based sustainable development strategies, renewable energy and food systems. In this work, she also continues national and international work to protect Indigenous plants and heritage foods from patenting and genetic engineering.
  3. Kandi Mossett: Kandi Mossett of the Indigenous Environmental Network works to bring light to the impact of climate change and environmental injustice are having on Indigenous communities across North America.
  4. Louise Erdrich: Louise Erdrich is an enrolled member of the Turtle Band of Chippewa Indians. She’s an author of various books as well as a bookstore owner of Birchbark Books in Minnesota. She’s won various awards for her novels.
  5. Edith Woodley: Edith Woodley runs Eloheh Seeds with her husband, Randy. They grow plants that are GMO-free, open-pollinated, organic. I’ve personally ordered seeds from their farm and I was so happy to be supporting their work. You can check out their amazing work here, and order something for your own garden.

 

These are just five of the MANY women that I’ve been following and supporting from different aspects of indigenous culture, different tribes, different talents.

I encourage you to search out people you can follow on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and support the ways in which indigenous peoples are working to support their families and cultures everyday.

 

 

Day 15: Dreams From Our Ancestors

{DISCLAIMER: These reflections are solely my reflections from my journey as a Potawatomi woman. They do not reflect the journey or stories of every indigenous person, and it should not be assumed that every indigenous person has the same experiences. Thank you for joining me here. May we grow toward unity together.}

 

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Midnight Memories

When the grandmothers speak, the world will begin to heal. —Hopi Proverb

One night this last summer, I had a vivid dream about my Grandma Downing’s house, the one in Ringling, Oklahoma, with a lot of farmland behind it and a shed next door where my Granddad had his own space. I dreamt about the big trees that my brother and sister climbed, about the attic and the back porch where we ran around with my Uncle Michael and Uncle Damon.

I haven’t seen that house since childhood, and the bits of memories I have are wrapped up in my own heart and family photos and stories of how we played there. But I can still smell the biscuits and bacon and fried eggs, and I can still remember the way Grandma told me not to sing at the table with a stern but loving glimmer in her eye.

I dreamt that a friend of ours bought the house and remodeled it, repurposed it to fit their lifestyle today. They busted out walls and opened wide spaces wider. They invited me to see the newly remodeled space, and when I entered, I walked through the house and wept.

I wept for my father’s mother, a woman that I couldn’t see anymore, a woman I hadn’t seen for years before she died when I was in high school. I wept because I missed her presence, her spirit, which I felt close to as a toddler when I’d run through her yard and kitchen and play with the long strands of pearls that were hanging on her vanity mirror.

I wept because I knew that in reality the house burned down when I was in college and isn’t there anymore. In reality, another house lives there and the memories of my Grandma and Granddad are buried in the dirt where the groundhogs live in the pasture.

I woke from the dream with tears in my eyes, and I couldn’t let go of the memories. I spent the morning recalling, looking through that old house with my mind’s eye, seeing the back porch full of wasp’s nests and old furniture; the kitchen TV that played Wheel of Fortune religiously every evening; the side room with the giant freezer and an extra refrigerator to feed the whole family when they came to visit; the door that opened to the attic stairs, all the way up to that stuffy room where my siblings and cousins played school and read books and pretended to be ghosts; the front porch where the aloe plant stood in the corner and old china dishes sat in a hutch.

Something about that place is embedded in who I am, from the tarantula who crawled across the back of my foot to the plants and kittens we played with in the backyard.

Something from that place still invades my senses every now and then, still reminds me that she is there helping shape me all these years later. Her voice still brings me back to all of my ancestors, to indigenous roots that claim me, even today.

That house comes back to see me in a dream, and in her transformation I remember that I am being constantly re-created and molded and formed, constantly sent back to find who I am after all these years, and where she will take me later in life.

God,

Dreams are the funniest things, and

when we ask for them,

you don’t always answer

in the way we’d hope.

Sometimes you answer

in odd and surprising ways,

sometimes calling us back

to something that has

long been forgotten.

And the remembering

can be painful

and hard

and we may not

be willing.

But there

in the quiet of sleep

we find that your presence

leads us into and out of ourselves,

back and forth across thresholds

that we cannot control.

And as we process ourselves,

our life stories, we are thankful that

you cherish them and ask us to recall

key moments, to learn to cherish

our own lives in our own way.

Thank you for that.

Amen.

 

 


 

This story is from my recently released book, Glory Happening: Finding the Divine in Everyday Places. This is what dreams mean for us, to indigenous peoples as messages and encouragements from the Creator and from our ancestors. They speak to us, help us move forward, remind us of who we are. Without dreams, we miss so much of a world that is longing for us to know it and to know ourselves.

 

Day 14: Retaining Indigenous Culture

{DISCLAIMER: These reflections are solely my reflections from my journey as a Potawatomi woman. They do not reflect the journey or stories of every indigenous person, and it should not be assumed that every indigenous person has the same experiences. Thank you for joining me here. May we grow toward unity together.}

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One day, after being invited to a “Tigerlily” themed birthday party for a neighbor, I went into the kitchen to do the dishes (because that’s what I do when I’m stressed). I stood there scrubbing and washing, the hot water baptizing my hands with soap suds. The longer I thought about the birthday party hosted by our really kind neighbors, the more upset I became. I pictured myself, in my adult body, seeing children running around a yard with war paint on their faces, hollering “like Indians do.” I pictured myself breaking down in front of my neighbors and running out of the yard. I pictured my two little boys saying, “We are Native American!” and the other children either not believing them or laughing at their truth.

My five year old son one day told me that he doesn’t want to tell people he’s Potawatomi, because he’s afraid they won’t like him. Maybe he’s been listening to my stories and my heart and he’s projecting what I’m struggling with onto himself, but the reality hit me like a ton of bricks: if I raise my boys to be indigenous, they will have a hard life. So standing there at the sink, doing our dishes, it became more and more clear that the path I lead them on will be a difficult one. What is so beautiful will not be understood by the outside world, and what is valued by us won’t be valued by others. Tigerlily themed parties will just be the tip of a huge iceberg filled with misconceptions and stereotypes about our culture.

And yet.

I do not give up hope on those beautiful spaces in which we get to retain our culture, and in doing so become better listeners of other cultures. Hopefully, it teaches us to be better global citizens, to expand our thinking, to love others better every day. To the people around me who ask and listen and work to make the world a better place: thank you. We do this work together.

My boys will learn our Potawatomi language with me as best we can, we will go to powwows and learn our tribe’s stories. We’ll keep pushing forward and we’ll educate others along the way, because that is how we retain our own culture. At church when they hear creation stories from the Bible, we’ll think of our own creation stories, of Turtle Island created on a turtle’s back, and when we hear about the prophets, we’ll think of our own prophets along the way.

That is how we teach the world that we are still alive today, still thriving.

And with every language lesson, with every story told of our ways, with every dig into learning who are ancestors are, with every hike into the woods and every quiet afternoon on the lake or in the garden, we retain something for ourselves.

We quiet our hearts and remember that we belong to this land, and it has things to teach us. We remember who we are called to be.

And that voice is louder and clearer than anything else.

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Day 13: Colonizing Christianity

{DISCLAIMER: These reflections are solely my reflections from my journey as a Potawatomi woman. They do not reflect the journey or stories of every indigenous person, and it should not be assumed that every indigenous person has the same experiences. Thank you for joining me here. May we grow toward unity together.}

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People living under capitalism find it very hard to know their own center and to live from within it.

–Richard Rohr, Simplicity

If we could step out of modern day America, back to what once was, what would we find, feel, believe about ourselves, each other, this earth?

If we could think about getting the things we need not by buying them but trading, sharing, foraging, what would that feel like, look like?

Maybe we begin stepping closer back to the center of ourselves, like Richard writes.

If we imagine that the land can actually heal us, speak to us, remind us of who we are, what would we believe about our every action and their consequences?

The world of colonized Christianity has taken away that ability to imagine and then to recognize that another kind of living is also a true reality.

The world of colonized Christianity has created a bubble  in which things must be fought for, earned, bought at a high price. It has created a bubble in which those who are on the “inside” are against those on the “outside,” and the fight for our lives is the fight for who gets to go to Heaven, who goes to Hell, and how those souls can be won over while we’re here.

I spent so many hours of my childhood crying over the lost souls of my lost friends. Instead of seeing their humanity, I was taught to see the taint in their hearts, and somehow because of that was taught to believe that, though my soul was tainted too, it was at least saved. I was at least part of the in-group, and I had to reach out of that to help the out-group without becoming like them, without succumbing to their darkness.

Does this sound crazy to anyone else out there?

My friends, this is colonized Christianity. This is what happens inside of us after years of Sunday School lessons, after years of sermons in which God is described as a patriarchal God, a judge with a gavel– after all of that, we become people who see everything as us/them, and it’s based in fear.

So my work today is to decolonize my Christianity. And that is no small task.

I believe it will take the rest of my life, and many who have gone before me spent their entire lives doing it, too. I want to follow in their footsteps. I want to walk the way they walked. I want to break down the ideas of us/them, in/out. I want to see the world more wholly, and I want to walk my own journey outside the confines of colonization.

In America today, that’s difficult. Things are hostile, and walking into a church every Sunday is, honestly, very difficult. So I walk in the tension. We are constantly called to walk in the tension.

But as we walk, we have to realize that our equilibrium is off, and every day that I decolonize my faith, every day that I learn more about my Potawatomi culture and apply that lens to my Christianity, I am trying to recenter myself.

And that is difficult work, indeed.

May we do it together, friends, no matter what culture we’re from, for the sake of all of us.


 

My book, #gloryhappening, is out now!

Here’s what people are saying about it:

 

“Stop. Take a deep breath and pour a cup of coffee. This is the kind of book you will want to sit with for a while, the kind you will return to again and again. With the insights of a prophet and the attention of a poet, Kaitlin Curtice invites the reader to see the world fresh, in all its everyday glory. You will never look at a sink of dishes, a mound of dough, a game of Rummy, or the family dog the same way again. “Glory Happening” is a stunner of a debut, every sentence a feast for the senses. By the time you reach the last page, you will have kicked off your shoes, knowing you tread on holy ground.”
– Rachel Held Evans, author of SEARCHING FOR SUNDAY and A YEAR OF BIBLICAL WOMANHOOD
“Kaitlin B. Curtice is a young, Native American Christian mystic who portrays the sacredness of the human condition in everyday language through her writing. Her use of poetic prayers and stories in Glory Happening inspires us to find the divine in every aspect of life, and gifts us with the opportunity to embrace and mirror the gracious reality of God and glory in our midst.”
– Fr. Richard Rohr, Founder, Center for Action and Contemplation, Author, THE NAKED NOW and FALLING UPWARD

 

 

 

Day 12: Government Holidays & Indigenous Peoples

{DISCLAIMER: These reflections are solely my reflections from my journey as a Potawatomi woman. They do not reflect the journey or stories of every indigenous person, and it should not be assumed that every indigenous person has the same experiences. Thank you for joining me here. May we grow toward unity together.}

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{Friends, we’re nearly halfway through this series on Native American Heritage Month!

Thank you so much for joining me in this space. My prayer is that it fosters curiosity and a desire to listen, learn, and build bridges & connections between native and non-native communities.}

The government has always played a large role in the oppression, genocide and removal of indigenous peoples in North America. Today, continued discrimination, constant battles with corporations that are often backed by the government, and fights over treaty land have not made the relationship better with time.

In recent years, with the change from Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day in some states, there’s a chance for the government to begin to do right by indigenous peoples.

However, matters are often left to grassroots organizations, teachers, communities, and parents to re-educate their children about the history of our holidays, such as Columbus Day or Thanksgiving. Our own President, who has numerous times used the slang term of Pocahontas, does not help us create a better environment for change.

Because we live far away from their days of origins, these holidays sit as steady landmarks to our nation, foundations that are not easily removed. But it is a place of respect and a willingness to listen when indigenous peoples bring up the pain that is associated with these and other holidays, holidays that are filled with colonial thought and thus, with racial nuances that truly only indigenous peoples or people of color could articulate.

So what if, at our Thanksgiving tables, we had honest conversations about what justice  and peace looks like, about how America has gotten some things wrong and about how things can be made right? What if practices in listening, true listening, are adopted in our communities?

What if we actually question our nation’s heroes and listen to the ones oppressed by them? What would that do to our society’s ideas and stereotypes toward native people?

This, of course, stirs up insane amounts of fear for those who are comfortable. And that’s exactly why the conversation needs to happen, friends. It doesn’t have to be hostile, but it does have to be at least a little uncomfortable.

For instance, here’s a link about Columbus you might want to read. 

And here’s a piece about Thanksgiving by my friend Randy Woodley. 

As I’ve learned more about my tribe, about our culture, about what it means to be Potawatomi and Anishinaabek, I sit in real tension with almost every American holiday. Because the foundations aren’t what they used to be. Because colonialism really is ingrained in everything, and because it is, Potawatomi people and other tribes in the United States are never really seen as we are and have always been.

And so, on both sides of the table, we have conversations to start and serious listening to do, and it’s about more than removing a statue of Christopher Columbus.

It’s about coming to grips with how this nation was started and what that leads us to today.


 

My book, Glory Happening: Finding the Divine in Everyday Places is out NOW! My hope is that it is a book you can read when things are quiet and you’re settled down for the evening. My hope is that you get to read it during those holiday naps, that you get to read a story with someone you love and talk about the stories that you’ve created together.

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