I forewarn all, this is my first attempt at retelling exact visions. They end up sounding like some sort of spoken word poetry, or like something straight from old Indian Country quotes that white people like to spout at conferences, meetings, and declarations.
I had a vision recently. All this work for my dating experience piece for Womanist Musings, I think it got their [spirits'] attention. I had finished my trade cloth dress, and my hair was longer. I was arguing with myself over contacts or glasses or just go without and just squint the whole time. My eyes are the most Native thing about me. I was going to a large potluck with other Natives and other students and some elders would be there. I was having a conversation with myself.
I did this tradecloth dress for a reason, right? To do it, and someday teach my daughters (because they might not have a Native mother). Why was I even going all dressed up like this? My stomach was in knots. I wonder if there was a handsome Indian there. That’s why I dressed up this way. It’d be easier, to ease into this two-spirit thing, dressed as a woman, right? I knew I wasn’t exactly invoking the image of a beautiful redwoman. I should have tanned, I was scolding myself. Then I thought of the sad excuse of the tradecloth dress it was. I had to do it from instructions on line, not with a soft and wrinkled hand showing me what to draw and how to hold the porcupine needle just so. I didn’t want my future daughters making pitiful tradecloth dresses.
Two-spirit. It’s an appropriate name. One body had to do twice the work, and I am not surprised I am already getting greys. Some days I feel inept at the quilling, and would rather go to the local zoo where there’s three buffalo and hunt one down.
I feel inept as a Native American woman, who is the backbone of our people and the most sacred, and yet I share a body like them.
I feel inept as a Native American man, because I get shy around beautiful Indian women, and try to get bravery by sipping on a fruity alcoholic drink.
I feel inept at being a real Indian, because there’s no more buffalo to hunt and trying to reconcile playing white men’s games.
I sometimes wonder, who is the person that is going to tell me that I’m not so inept anymore.
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Dan Waters is a two spirit male-identified mixed blood of Kiowa-Wampanoag descent. He currently lives in Massachusetts, and is attending UMass Amherst. He hopes to become a lawyer, specifically in advocacy and tribal law. Dan also currently writes at Identity Exposure and Womanist Musings.