Monday, August 31, 2015

Poem: Accents in the Seventh Generation

What is frightening is the dehumanizing effect of judgement,
What is scary is the assumption that an accent means one thing,

This is an ode to busting stereotypes and being proud of roots/identity/culture,

Phase 1

Land claims,
Re-routing lines to connect/communicate,

Phase 2

Loud voices,
Uncomfortable in my shoes,

Phase 3

My friends laugh at my Dad's accent,
It was how I was raised,

Phase 4

He couldn't read,
And didn't know until he was 40 years old how to do so,

Phase 5

I am crying my eyes out,
Because my Dad can hardly read his 40th birthday card,

Phase 6

Years later he walks a sober road,
He loves reading the Bible,
He loves reading the dictionary,
This is better than reading a 40,

Phase 7

Seven generations later,
We walk a sober road,

Surmounting challenges,
Hurdles tripped over,
We cry as we rise,

This is the seventh generation,

This is the seventh generation,
"I grewed up in Highland Park,"
Makes me smile,

I love the Highland Park/Detroit/Inner City Blues Make Me Wanna Holler Accent,
I love the urban/street survived accent,
I love the rising above addiction but still maintain my street smarts accent,

We keep it real,
We know who we is,
We are so much in this together,

Accents in the seventh generation show resilience and pride!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Article: 9 Ways Native Men Can Heal From Historical Trauma

Historical trauma has taken its toll on Native people, and Clayton Small, Northern Cheyenne, founder of Native Prevention, Research, Intervention, Development, and Education, or Native P.R.I.D.E., spent years developing ways to help Native men overcome the effects.

“Colonization has diminished the roles of being a father, a man, a warrior. Over generations, men have resorted to unhealthy addictions to food, sex, alcohol, gambling, as a way to cope,” Small said. “We need to admit that historical trauma is a part of our history, but that doesn’t have to stop us from growing today and becoming a good, responsible man.”

In a webinar entitled “Fatherhood and Wellness” Small offered many solutions for men to heal from past traumas. Here are nine of them:


Regardless of the way you practice it, Small said, “Spirituality is our greatest source of strength and an important part of our healing journey. Ceremonies renew us, our families, the universe, and the earth. When we participate in the sacred we realize that there is a power greater than us, and that it’s okay to ask for help.”

Recognize Feelings

Small said there are four feelings: mad, sad, glad, and afraid. “Men are champions at expressing anger but other feelings are difficult for us. We talk about those things in ceremony, so we just need to transfer that sense of safety and belonging outside of ceremony into everyday life.”

Embrace Your Culture

Small said going to pow wows and other gatherings is important but, “We have to hang out with healthy men. If we hang out with knuckleheads we are going to become a knucklehead. So the lesson here is that it’s okay to be a recovering knucklehead.”

Learn to Forgive

Small said that sometimes children are hurt, betrayed, abandoned, disciplined harshly, abused, and neglected. Other times, young “knuckleheads” must learn to forgive themselves. Small recommends, “You can open the door to forgiveness by saying, ‘I hope and pray that at some point you can forgive me and we can have a good relationship.’ Sometimes the son has to initiate reconciliation with his parents, especially when his father is still angry and bitter or into unhealthy addictions.” In his own healing journey, the son can encourage the father to seek a wellness path.

Clayton Small said that when we live within the circle, we are in balance. The boxes outside the circle represent challenges to becoming a responsible husband, father, and grandfather. (Courtesy Clayton Small)
Clayton Small said that when we live within the circle, we are in balance. The boxes outside the circle represent challenges to becoming a responsible husband, father, and grandfather. (Courtesy Clayton Small)


Knowing your parent’s history helps to forgive them, Small said. “Find out about their childhood; did they go to boarding schools? Was there alcohol and violence in the family?” Often, parents don't want to talk about these issues, however Small said it is important. “It’s not about making them feel bad, it’s about healing and reaching a level where we can let some of those strong feelings go. Forgiving our parents is one of the challenges in our healing journey. If it was easy we would have done it yesterday,” Small said. “With a warm handshake, we need to say we are here for each other, let’s do this together. We feel safe talking about these things with women, but we also need to have that same conversation with other men. Our men need to learn to talk to each other about more than sports, weather and dirty jokes.”

Shame and Embarrassment

These things happen when men can’t get a job or provide food or shelter for their families or “when they were young and foolish, you hurt or betrayed someone else,” Small said. Instead of a lifetime of regret, Small encouraged men to say, “I did the best I could and that’s good enough. Today, I am going to choose to let those feelings go. That’s called healing. Older and wiser men can become responsible fathers and husbands.” He also said, “Let it go and give it to the creator, to the spirits. I went through therapy and ceremonies. We have to be honest and open and listen to feedback from other people.”

Avoiding Violence

“It takes a lot of courage to be humble, to express tears. We have so many losses that go unresolved in Indian country. There are funerals every week. When we don't know how to deal with that grief, we may turn to drugs and alcohol and violence. It’s okay to get emotional. It’s okay for men to cry,” Small said. “Our men have not been conditioned to express their feelings in a healthy way. We know how to express anger and violence, but we have a difficult time saying, ‘I am afraid, I am hurt.’ Our men need to take time to do the grief work, to ask for help.”
In this drawing a warrior rides among the bloodied victims of war and chooses to count coup rather than resort to violence against the man in his path. (Courtesy Clayton Small)
In this drawing a warrior rides among the bloodied victims of war and chooses to count coup rather than resort to violence against the man in his path. (Courtesy Clayton Small)

 Overcome Conditioning

Small said that experiences in our youth conditions our behavior for the rest of our life, “but that doesn't mean we can’t change and grow. If we have a crisis or stressful situation, we might resort to drinking again. The key is to get back up. Use our spirituality and resources of strength, ask for help, but it’s not up to someone else to save me. I have to do my part.”

Honor Our Women

Our women need to stand side by side with us, equal in the relationship as wife, mother, partner, and with an assertiveness in the relationship that only happens when we have broken those unhealthy cycles, Small said.

“Fatherhood and Wellness,” can be heard in its entirety on the National Indigenous Women's Resource Center website. The webinar offers many additional ways to heal relationships and avoid destructive behaviors and situations. Native P.R.I.D.E offers workshops throughout the country.

The National Indigenous Women's Network provides a wide variety of wellness webinars.

“We are all a work in progress and healing takes place over time. What really helps men is to spend time with other men who are on a wellness path. That really helps the light bulb click on,” Small said. “I don't have to spend time feeling hurt or angry or betrayed. Other men are going through the same things I am and we can work on things together. I don't have to stay stuck.”


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Poem: Moningwunakauning


There was a gorgeous sunset guiding you,
Through the halfway house,
Out the front door,
So you weren't trafficked,
A missing Two-Spirit sister,
A stolen Two-Spirit sister,


There was a crow who signaled a call to your soul,
Dangerous thoughts reverberating from your soul and the crow knew what to do,
The sound/movement/spirit curtailing dangerous thoughts to harm yourself,


There was a friend/angel,
Who asked you why you were going to smoke and run,
And not eat at the same time,
You didn't have an answer in your addiction,
And kept running,
But her words made an imprint that would last forever,
So you could heal,


There was a diva enlightened drag queen,
Who smiled at you and said,
"Hello beautiful,"
So you could re-route the horrific societal conditioning to see your beauty,


To the south shore,
Bead work and moccasins,
Ancestor/relation Madeline Cadotte was the daughter of Waub Ajijaak,
Leader at LaPointe,
Ajijaak doodem means "echo maker,"
Leader for the people in the very very old time traditional way,
Ancestors we are listening,


Ojibway women as matriarchs now and forever,
Managing/harvesting/processing manoomin,
Managing food supplies
Center of community,
Center of public life,
Dealing with Métis fur traders,
French fur traders,
Reclaiming this as decolonizing,


Descendants walking,
Descendants weaving,
Floral designs abound,
Dancing for you,
Dancing for the ancestors,

Time in a circle 

Making repairs to canoes,
Making repairs to moccasins,
Making repairs to communities,
Making repairs to hearts,

Time infinity

There are ancestral Chiefs who are guiding your life,
Ke-Che-Ne-Zuh-Yauh - Chief of the Crane Family,
A-Ke-Gui-Ow - Neck of the Earth,
Waub Ajijaak - White Crane,
Momongazida - a war Chief,
Waubojiig - White Fisher.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Article: Cry Me a River, Andrea Smith

I met Andrea Smith in 2008 and speculated she wasn't Native.  She was down with all the key terms and lingo regarding decolonization, settler colonialism, white privilege, etc, a bit too much.  I also interviewed her on behalf of a Metro Detroit feminist organization that dissolved several years ago and is no longer in existence.  When I interviewed Andrea I was amazed at how I felt intuitively that she hadn't really been through much trauma.  I am not saying that this is a requirement to be Native however most Natives have stories of trauma whether within their family systems, communities they live in, jobs they've worked, or dealing with other systems in dominant culture (because it is a racist culture).  She felt white to me and I never published the interview on this site because something deep within me kept saying no.  In fact I threw the interview away just because of my gut feeling.

I am proud to be a Anishinaabe/Ojibway/Metis (mixed heritage).  I have many ancestral Chiefs in my lineage that were key in holding the culture and land down as colonization was occurring in Anshinaabe Aki.  I am deeply connected to my culture, heritage, and traditions through family and clan relations.  I am Ogichidaakwe (Two-Spirit) and honored within my family and community. I am a traditional and old time jingle dress dancer.  I've been walking the red road of sobriety/wellbriety since January 1, 2010.  My family name LaPointe is connected to Moningwunakauning (Madeline Island, WI) - "the place of the golden breasted woodpecker."  Or otherwise know as the origin and homeland of our people.  There is more but I keep it real, stand for the land, stand for Two-Spirits, stand for sobriety/wellbriety/recovery, write poems of healing/recovery/resistance, and stand against frauds!

No need to coddle a wannabe.  No need to say she has done "good work," for us.  We are doing good work for our people.

This is one of the best articles yet on Andrea Smith being a fraud.  Keepin' it real!

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Cry Me a River, Andrea Smith

Watching two Native academics come to a consensus about Andrea Smith is like watching two eagles fight. No, wait, I mean egos. After Andrea Smith was outed for the second time as being non-Native, several Native academics leapt to save her from scrutiny. “Focus on more positive things,” they said. “Let’s not criticize her, because she’s done so much good for the community.” I’m done with that discourse. It’s time to be upset. White people can all-to-easily say they’re Indian, while claiming to be black is a cultural anomaly, ala Rachel Dolezal. It is with this in mind that I can say Andrea Smith is far more insidious a character than Dolezal.

For years Smith has been conjuring her fake spirit animal to cry wolf, acting like she’s one of the many Indian women who face violence and subjugation. It’s a little too generous to say Smith was lead to believe she was Indian. I mean, good lord, nobody told me I was an Indian. When my mom found out we were part Irish, she read a bunch of Irish literature, we made soda bread, and then called it a day. We couldn’t get in touch with our Irish roots, because by lineage, blood, and community, we were too Indian. So Indian my mother put the Irish flag on regalia. So Indian, my mother argued Irish people should be called Indigenous because, just like us, they were exploited by the Europeans. How was Smith lead to believe she was Indian? Did she grow up in an Indian community? Nope. Are either of her parents Indian? Nope. She, like most white people who think they’re Indian, was told she was part Indian. She took that and ran with it. Ran hard. Like, took that loose mouthed claim to lineage, and made a career out of it.

Trust me, I empathize with people removed from their culture. The sixties scoop is a real issue for many Native people throughout North America. If you’re unfamiliar, it was a period in which the government could scoop up Indian children from their communities, then place them up for adoption in Canada and the US. That’s real: for the people disconnected from their cultures, and for the people who could not find their real parents. I empathize with Native people shut out from their culture, but don’t confuse their stories with that of Smith. She’s hella white, and she tried to save us. Can we call her what she is: a white savior.

Native academic communities are far too kind. I’ve seen endless blog posts and editorials empathizing with Smith. Even defending her, saying she’s done so much good. No. Her deceit affected the ethos of every institution she worked for. Her criticism of government funding was coming from a dangerous space, where she never had to rely on government funding to feed her children or protect her sisters. She’s a fake. Her work was based around her identity, and scholars have the audacity to say how she identifies isn’t worth noting.

Smith was a real spitfire and a hell-raiser. She wielded theory and residential school accounts verbatim. Her work was nothing more than the compiling of information, coupled with the intellect to unpack it. Her ideas aren’t original. Lee Maracle, among other Native women, have been talking about environmental racism and the Indigenous female body for years. Smith is a smart lady. She can defend herself, even from the indefensible. See, white academics are really good at twisting words around, until Indians start doubting themselves. I’m not trying to hear whatever argument defends her character.

Andrea Smith doesn’t know the struggle. She invented her own. Once a white professor took me aside to ask me how I felt about the stereotypes against Native women. I said, “What stereotypes,” because, up until then, I was happy to think I was an equal among my peers. He said, “The stereotype that you’re wild women in bed. The ‘Squaw’ stereotype.” I was shocked and speechless. I was never alone again with him. That’s the struggle. Real threat. Real pain. Real discrimination.

Terese Marie Mailhot is from Seabird Island, a place bound by the Mariah Slough and the Fraser River. She studies at the Institute of American Indian Arts. Her work, “Heart Berries,” can be found in Carve magazine, and her story, “House Party,” is forthcoming in Yellow Medicine Review.