Poem: Warrior Within

There is a warrior within that can rise above,
There is a warrior within that can rise above in the face of oppression,
There is a warrior within that can rise above in the face of addiction,
There is a warrior within that can rise above in the face of sadness,
There is a warrior within that can rise above in the face of anger,
Intense rage,
Intense depression,
Intense helplessness,
The warrior knows the heart and soul can rise above,
The feelings of powerlessness,
The feelings of defeat,
The soul can rise,
The heart in pain,
Can heal,
There is a warrior within that can rise above with bravery,
The warrior has always been there,
The warrior can remove layers of shame,
Guilt,
Darkness surrounds the warrior,
The warrior within can sweep aside the darkness,
The warrior is powerful,
The warrior has a voice,
See yourself as the warrior that is present,
Peaceful,
Content,
Healed,
And healing,
Valuable,
Loved,
By your family,
Parents,
Sisters,
Friends,
Relatives,
Cousins,
Aunts,
Uncles,
Grandparents,
Ancestors from all directions and sides,
The warrior can find strength within,
Remember there is a warrior within that can rise above.

Poem: The Origins of Colonial Crisis

Part 1

It starts with King Henry VIII,
Do not press hard on my ribs,
Remove the chains around my lungs,
My heart,
The cloak,
It’s done,
Burn it in the fire,
To cleanse,

The chains,
They left scars,
My heart is in pain,
Unhinge slowly,
Start to breathe,
It is okay to breath,
Please breath, 

Part 2

It’s time to leave the Tower,
I am tired of gazing out into the sea,
The smell of mold from the chambers,
The darkness of the bedroom,
That one window that faces the sea,
I am tired of the royal show,
The royal garb,
The crown jewels,
The performance for the court,
My enemies in the court gossip and sneer,
Meek and timid,
Too afraid to face me directly,
I travel these cold halls in the Tower alone, 

Part 3

What is hidden we will shine light on,
The mold in the bedroom,
The torture of the soul,
525 years yet to face,
Sexual violence,
Assault,
Pain,
The mold will die when the light enters,
Housing,
Justice,
Free yourself from the self-made – colonially-made prison,

Part 4

You keep talking about,
London,
England,
Britain,
As if we are still Tudors,
The origin of colonial crisis is in the soul,

Part 5

Land acquisition,
The court and betrayal,
The melding of colonization and patriarchy,
Dominion and torture,
Working class peasantry,
Bread in the court on the royal banquet table,
Spilled on the floor,
We dust it clean,
But the trauma returns,
We shake hands and smile above the oubliette,

Part 6

The dresses are gone,
The exit is clear,
I found the stairs to leave,
Anne Boleyn is peacefully resting now,
The crown is no longer hers, 

I want Anishinaabe Aki,
I am gazing at our land before colonization,
Before the execution,
Persecution,
Patriarchy,
Accusations of adultery and witchcraft,
My body was not assaulted in the name of Christ,
Our bodies were healed,
We had great love in our communities,
Traditional governance meant traditional matriarchy,
We tend to these decolonial baskets, 

Mishomis is harvesting manoomin,
As healing as this is,
His hands point to where we need to heal in our bodies,
Zaagidewin mishomis,

Part 7

Patriarchy has done incredible global damage,
King Henry VIII’s dominion is the origin of colonial crisis,
Naming it,
Mishomis,
The healing,
Our neck,
We heal together,
Every single day,
I touch my neck,
My voice,
Our voice, 

Are our tears ever enough?
Is our love strong enough to decolonize colonial pride?
Arrogance,
Ego,
Narcissism, 

The King – he is losing power,
The jig is up,

Part 8

I hope to see our Anishinaabe prophecies fulfilled,
Ode – the heart,
It hurts still these days,
We can tend and heal,
Decolonization is painful,

Part 9

Ajijaak dodem,
Echo makers,
Speakers for the community,
We will speak for this healing,
For the voice,
For the ancestors,
For the ones to come,
For the ending of the colonial crisis,

Noojimo.

A Call to End Lateral Violence In Our Anishinaabe Communities

Preface

I can’t wait until our own people start to protest lateral violence within our Anishinaabe communities.  I can’t wait until we start demanding action be taken and misogynistic tribal councilor’s are removed.  I can’t wait to see the mass of Anishinaabe people at Tribal government buildings demanding that corruption be stopped.  I can’t wait to see our people with protests signs that say – LOVE WATER NOT ALCOHOL.  I can’t wait until we stop running from our own communities and do the work within.

I am aware of “large actions” against Line 5 – “the straits sunken hazard.”  However I am even more aware of the apparent visible hazards of addiction, sexual abuse, and lateral violence within our Anishinaabe communities.  We need not run from these problems but to face them directly.  This is the greatest direct action!

The problem with anti-social media is no one can have 5,000 “friends” or “followers.”  That is a small town you’ve accumulated in a virtual un-reality.  Even in small towns not everyone gets along.  This is why small towns are often quiet and the curtains are drawn because it is better to keep to yourself.

Personally, I am at a breaking point with the lateral violence.  This is a call for help.  This is a decolonial treatise, if you will. 

Decolonization – For Real

I have been involved in community work (I don't use the word activism) since I was 12 years old when I fought against gentrification in my hometown of Royal Oak, Michigan.  Now Royal Oak is a place I wouldn’t want to live.  For 7 years I have resided in the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians Territory – or colonially known as Manistee, Michigan.  I have a love and hate relationship with this place.  Little River Band of Ottawa Indians is a non-community meaning there is no community with this tribe.  The level of heteropatriarchy and misogyny is extreme here.  As an Ojibway/Métis Two-Spirit, I have experienced more lateral violence here than I can count from men and women.  On the flipside, there are also people who supported me in crisis, usually more conservative people.  Mostly what I love about Naaminitigong (Manistee) is the land and water.  The non-community troubles me but fuels my life work. 

Heal Yourself to Heal Your People

Fighting a pipeline is bullshit when you haven’t healed yourself.  If you are struggling with an addiction seek help right now.  Stop running from your pain.  Besides big oil will win and it is better to get to the root cause of trauma within our communities that continuously fight against one another.  Big oil doesn’t care about Treaty Rights or Native American rights, we all know this.  You aren’t going to change big oil’s mind with a protest and they actually think it’s funny you are out there “resisting.”  It is the same old song and nothing will change by screaming at cars driving by on the Mackinaw Bridge.  This is Michigan and I come from a Ford family.  My great-Grandfather was a Union Organizer who assisted in the building and the founding the UAW (United Auto Workers).  Without the ancestors hard and monotonous labor we wouldn’t have the world that we have today.  We need cars because we can get to protests.  Otherwise how do you get there?  So what solutions do you propose post oil and post auto industry?  The auto industry has a strong hold on Michigan and these actions won't change it any time soon.  I praise the auto industry for innovation and changing our world.  Do I love the auto industry?  No, I am not in love with it and changes can be made within it.

I’m Sick of Standing Rock

For those of us who resisted in our home territory we see that Standing Rock did nothing to heal you.  Are you really a warrior when you attack your own people?  You are not a warrior when you degrade, insult, and bully another person.  I am sick of hearing about people who went to Standing Rock.  So what?  I went to the racist work environment on numerous occasions.  I wake up in the colonial white supremacist land as a Two-Spirit every single day boldly walking a sober road.  The frontlines are our lives and not this show of power and ego when it comes to “resistance.” 

Authenticity

If you are authentic in your work you need not make a show of it.  This is ego as well as insecurity.  If you are a true warrior then live it and say nothing of your work.  I am not interested in a show of power or a show of ego (insecurity).  You prove you are more in alignment with Diocletian or King Henry VIII when you do this.  I believe in the old Anishinaabe ways.  I believe in what the ancestral and hereditary Chiefs in my lineage might say.  Blood memory means we may feel this or get insights via dreams, intuition, etc.  This leadership is often not even welcome in our own Anishinaabe communities.  Leadership is nurtured throughout one’s lifetime.  It is not something you attain and then know everything.  If you think like this then you are still in alignment with King Henry VIII and not Ogema Waub Aijaak (Chief White Crane).  Leading an authentic life means you don’t need validation of your work by anyone.

Zaagidewin – Love Is the Solution

My treatise doesn’t declare surrendering.  In fact, I am gaining strength.  I am tired of “water protectors,” who are violent towards their own people or smoke “medical marijuana” around their Anishinaabe children.  Anishinaabe are around other Anishinaabe at events and no one can talk to each other.  Then you bully me because I am strong, independent, fierce, educated, creative, intellectual, healed, and healing.  You say I am “intense” because I work very hard for our communities.  You lack intensity because you are normal and boring.   I challenge the patriarchy within men and women. I challenge those who who hog the stage and are not allowing anyone else to be up there.  This is not the work of our people or in our 7 Grandmother (ehem) and Grandfather Teachings.  There are elders who are not passing the torch to the next leaders so I will make my own place to lead without ya’ll supporting me.  This brokenness needs repair.

Gpa & Cece 83.jpg

There is no Anishinaabe “community.”  There is no “Michigan Native community.”  At this point the oppressor has won.  Colonization and genocide has never ended and we are now continuing this oppression in our own non-communities towards each other.  All the buzz words of “resistance,” “decolonization,” and “water protection,” fail because we need to empower our people by and for each other.  Forget the pipeline – get alcohol off of our tribal lands! 

I love my parents.  I love my family.  I love the LaPointe’s.  I love the Sanborn's.  I love the land.  I love the water.  I love Michigamig.  I even love my enemies.  These are my teachings.  The more hate, anger, jealousy, hostility, and lateral violence you send me the more I grow my love.  This garden I tend is beautiful – can you see it?  This work is lonely but I continue forward working from – zaagidewin – love.  Chi miigwech Mishomis LaPointe for supporting me from the so called “other side.”  You are always with us.

Zaagidewin,

Nigig-enz Baapi (Little Laughing Otter)

Poem: 11 Mile Road

Indigenous identity,
Is much more than a white man,
Trying to be street, 

My Ojibway Father is street,
From the HP,
All the way up to KBIC,
Don’t know these abbreviations,
Too bad,
You’re not street or rez enough to know,

But 40 years for the phone company is keepin’ it real,
For the family,
For his pride,
NDN man not seen in 48067,

1993 brought railroad tracks and pain,
White teachers and class mates misunderstand,
The connection of the heart to Anishinaabe Aki, 

Racist classmates and racist teachers,
The liberal white town is not so kind to mixed race Indian kids,

 Racist Lewis Cass said,
“this is truly a Royal Oak,”
At the time not gentrified,
But becoming yuppified,
White-collar-ified,

We fought against gentrification,
Of the colonial pulse of my land,
My territory,
My street,
My parking lot,
My parking garage,
With the fat white man shouting from the Washington Square building.
My city,

The neighborhood,
Village,
Was like a small town,
In a spiraling Megalopolis,
There was a sense of safety,
In a small radius,

Oooo how I longed for trees!
Trees and trees!
Dirt roads,
Water,
Land of my ancestors,
Anishinaabe Aki,

Instead as a youth,
Making prank calls from payphones on Lafayette and uptown,
My shoes wore out by the end of summer time,
Embracing the Sagittarius fire of rebellion,
Making conservative Catholics nervous,
When I tore down posters in their school,
Because your on our land and in my hood,
I don’t like your chimes,
I don’t like that you were dismissive of my Mom’s heart, 

My energy to infinity,
With an olde school rotary phone in hand,
I make phone calls to friends so we can stand on the sewer caps,
Recite poetry or dance out some Motown on the steel,
My best friend grew up in Crane (AJIJAAK) Avenue,
I grew up near the once dead and dying downtown before,
It’s actual death when the colonization of gentrification occurred,

 With petitions in hand I held my Momma’s hand and fought against,
“this is truly a Royal Oak,” 

I attended my first city commission meeting at 12 years old,
Mayor Dennis Coward said,
“the girl in the orange shirt,”
I rose from my seat,
Spoke against the city,
I learned that day that the city gentry doesn’t care about the proletariat,

The building and closing of real shops,
Baa maa pii Hobby Attic,
Baa maa pii real cheap book store,
Baa maa pii vacuum cleaner store,
Baa maa pii alcohol free working class family diners, 

We no longer could walk downtown,
Because we were no longer welcome,
Mom said numerous times in her Kmart shoes,
“this town is going to hell in a hand basket…”

11 Mile Road,
Where I was more afraid of the White man,
Than the Black man,
As brainwashed by WXYZ Channel 7 Detroit,
They brainwashed White Metro Detroit,
To be afraid of the Black man,

The viaduct,
I wasn’t going to be afraid,
Nor let the Black and White racial binary be carved into my skin,
But the city did do damage,

I am not a white man rapper,
I am a Two-Spirit Ojibway/ Métis matriarch,
I am the little boy who thought bad thoughts,
On the railroad tracks in Maxwell Park,

Or I found places to hide,
Was naturally hidden by the racial binary in the Metro,
Which drew out pain,
Which drew out generational trauma,
To discover the Androgynous Man in Brown Pants,
Who’s ancestry spirals and rolls on the waves of Gitchee Gumee,
Following the migration story to our ancestral homeland,
With Ajijaak dodem migration storied leadership,
Ascending,
Descending,
To rise again and fly,
The silence of Ajijaak could erase the pain of streaky palms on a school desk,
When I was made invisible by colonial school books, 

We stayed south of 11 Mile road,
Although our south side was safer than most south sides,
But was it safe for mixed race Indian kids? 

What does safety mean when you have racist class mates?
Racist teachers,
That dress themselves as do gooder white liberals,
Cosmopolitan city folk who adopt Indigenous children from Peru,

11 mile road,
I run across it,
Running,
I run south,
I run north,
I’m free.

Poem: The Androgynous Man in Brown Pants, Part 5

Majority culture thought

Someone once asked the androgynous man in brown pants,
“Why aren’t you married?”
She replied, “why does the patriarchy exist?”
You would think that he would make a beautiful partner,
Of course the “house wife” would be the Two-Spirit man partner,
To cook for him,
Clean,
Tidy up,
Wash windows,
Fold the linens,
Sweep up sorrows and old traumas accordingly,
After all the Two-Spirit man partner owes him this,
The androgynous man in brown pants,
In his old soul ways,
Has taken the pile of keys and stacked them next to books,
They have prepared themselves for misunderstanding,
From the humans on Earth,

Checklist

I fooled you at female,
I fooled you at male,
The checklist is annoying,
You will not find me in small boxes,
Where I get nervous filling in the information,
To these colonial-white man-makes me sick white paperwork,

My checklist is on birch bark,
Touched with the blood memory seeping through my fingers,
This is the checklist I hold,
As the memories of the ancestors,
Make their way to my heart,
My spirit feels at home,

Continuous gardening

Nimaamaa handed them a poem at 15 years old,
From her left hand,
Sitting at her desk in the dining room,
The poem was about tending to your own garden,
Nurturing your own soul,
I read it and leaped up the stairs to my room,
Exclaiming, "I will get a Master's degree and not rely on a man!"
The same applies to this day,
So they tend,
Tend,
Tend,

The patriarchy has proven its laziness,
The diagnosis is stagnation,
As a Two-Spirit they do it all,
They work,
Maintain,
Tidy,
Grow,
Live,
Breath,
Love,
Decolonize,
Heal,
Repair,
Cleanse,

Man’s Work

All around are images on women,
Patriarchal women,
Cheap women,
Appeasing the man’s needs,
Human sexuality is odd,
For much of human’s existence on this Earth,
The whole act hasn’t been based on love,
Does anyone on this Earth know what true love is?

Can you hear me out there?
Jiibay Zibi,
Bugonagiizhig,
Madoo’asinik,
Gaagige Giizhig,
Anung Nibwakawin 

Don’t you know love?
True love?

Your body as healed,
Your heart as healed,

Zaagidwein!