Poem: Mad Libs of Anti-Social Media

My obsession with rotary phones is real. More real than your smartphone. Rotary phones are elegant and regal. Decolonize today! When I run for Ogema in 2029 it will be mandatory to have a rotary phone in your home if you live on the reservation. Sincerely, real olde school Generation X-er.

My obsession with rotary phones is real. More real than your smartphone. Rotary phones are elegant and regal. Decolonize today! When I run for Ogema in 2029 it will be mandatory to have a rotary phone in your home if you live on the reservation. Sincerely, real olde school Generation X-er.

My Instagram left me running,
For myself,
In my own mirror,
Of self-absorption,
I knew I made it big on facebook with a clown,
That in town,
Ran away,
Like a king of a fling,
Ohhhh I am sure that stings,

The TRUTH,
You get the boot,
From the Russian bot,
Watching your activity,
Cuz youse is Indigenous on the internets,

I know you thinkin’ youse is wise,
Decolonizing with tons of hashtags,
You are so a millenilal,

Get a rotary phone,
Listen to the tone,
This is a poem,
So quit the roam,
Of your soul,

Phew!
Thank the God of Two-Spirit God’s,
Decolonial God’s in the Ojibwe night sky,
Alien cat God’s,
Alien angel human God’s prayin’ ya to thee decolonial JESUS,
All caps cuz he was a radical brown man,

What were you in your past life,
A lump on the log of anti-social media,
Smoke smoke smokin’ those likes up,

The world has taken the drug,
This is the smart plan,
To manipulate your soul,

Get out while you can,
Don’t bury your heard in the sand,

Delete,
Uninstall,
Roll it back,
Cuz youse is loosing track,
Of who you is,
In this world,

They will manipulate your mind,
So you think you are fine,
Why in fact you are not free,
Just let the app,
Tap,
Go,
Just be,
Like it was 1982,
With the talkin’ on the steps,
In the hood,
Before the corruption,
Disruption of the dial tone,
Phone.

Poem: Sobriety Creates Beauty

Floral designs extend from my fingers,
To circle around mitig,
To mitigong,
Up to migizi,
And back to nigig,

Floral designs from my feet,
Rooted like mitig into the Earth,
Pause,
Breath,
Zaagidewin,
Zaagidewin,
Zaagidewin,

Otter carries floral designs,
With the medicines,
Across the water,
To Anishinaabe,

The message,
In the teaching,
In the prophecy,
In the healing of our people,

The floral designs,
Travel between worlds,
To the ancestors,
To the ones to come,
Debwewin,
Debwewin,
Debwewin,

Anung,
Our spirits as big as the night sky,
With all that wisdom,
In your body,
My body,
The Anishinaabe body,

Empathy,
As the nibish that nigig feels,
Delicate,
Cleansing,
Fresh,
Sometimes,
You cry for others who can't feel,

Floral designs,
On baskets,
On clothes,
In dreams,

Recovery has created,
This beauty.

- - - - - - - - - -

Translations

Anung = Star
Debwewin = Truth
Migizi - Eagle
Mitig = Tree
Mitigong = Trees/Forest
Nibish = Water
Nigig = Otter
Zaagidewin = Love

Traverse City: The Dangerous Intersection of Bourgeoisie White Liberalism and Colonial “Land Conservation”

Traverse City, Michigan is a dangerous place.  White liberalism is dangerous.  White liberalism is colonization and therefore Traverse City, Michigan is full of the bourgeoisie colonial White liberals.  If the folks in Traverse City want to poke fun at Manistee, Michigan then at least the folks in the sticks down by the river are outright racist rather than pretending they are “do gooder White liberals.”  If there is a hierarchy in racism – pretending you are not racist is far worse.

The disease of colonization has White liberals believing that their hands aren’t dirty.  Go to Africa and bring colonial help instead of empowering Native folks right in your own backyard.  Open a co-op in a so called working class neighborhood in lily White Traverse City and please don’t feel good about yourself.  Do bike lanes make you feel even better?  Too bad your liberal city is the most sprawled out in Northern Michigan.  Conservatives pretty much run Grand Traverse County so liberals really don’t have power. 

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Bourgeoisie White Liberalism

Liberalism wants to not identify with conservatism.  If you are talking about the majority culture colonial politics in the United States then these are two sides to the same coin.  Good luck challenging the system by believing in the system.  Therefore, bourgeoisie White liberalism is colonialism and believes in the current system.  

Shut down Line 5?  What about help others choose recovery in your own backyard as environmental justice?  Or bringing a migrant farm worker family some clothes or decent housing that isn’t filled with mold?  If you drive a car then there is no reason to fight big oil?  Have plastic in your home?  Then get rid of everything that is associated with oil.  A partial list of products made from oil.  I am pro-industry but I believe the patriarchal industry needs to change.  I am pro-industry for the working class people.  I am pro-industry for the workers and the bread on the table.  I am from a working class family with UAW and CWA roots.  We need to change our ways but change and transformation takes time.  This downplaying of the poor and working class (who are mostly Native and People of Color) degrades the wealth and time of labour.  I am akin to the worker because it is in my blood and soul.  The sweat and tears for family and community instills a pride in labour.  Bourgeoisie White liberalism wants to end this labour without many solutions and doesn’t take into consideration colonial resource extraction in Indigenous communities to make their so called “environmental friendly,” Prius.

“Eco-consciousness” and “green living” are centrepieces of product branding for the Toyota Prius. But that feel-good packaging has rapidly worn thin for members of the Algonquin Nation and residents of Kipawa, Quebec, who are now fighting to protect traditional Algonquin territory from devastation in the name of hybrid car battery production.
In 2011, after nearly two years of negotiations, Matamec Explorations, a Quebec-based junior mining exploration company, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Toyotsu Rare Earth Canada (TRECan), a Canadian subsidiary of Japan-based Toyota Tsusho Corporation. The memorandum confirmed Matamec’s intention to become “one of the first heavy rare earths producers outside of China.” In pursuit of this role, the company plans to build an open-pit Heavy Rare Earth Elements (HREE) mine directly next to Kipawa Lake, the geographical, ecological, and cultural centre of Kipawa.” - Toyota Prius Not So Green After All

Water is life but that sounds like pro-life.  How about water is love?  Water is healing?  Water is scary!  Have you ever seen 15 foot waves on Gitchee Gumee (Lake Superior) in November?  That is life but it is also death.  See story on the Edmund Fitzgerald

Colonial Land Conservation

There are White environmental groups who plague the city.  This money is funneled from White conservation foundations who grant to White environmental organizations to save the bay or save the bike lane.  There is an outright discrimination in philanthropy towards Native led groups as well.

“Over the past decade, U.S. foundation support benefiting Native Americans declined from 0.5 percent to 0.3 percent of total foundation giving. According to Foundation Funding for Native American Issues and Peoples, total grant dollars targeting Native Americans dropped 30.8 percent in the latest year, compared to a 14.1 percent overall downturn in foundation giving. This report was prepared by the Foundation Center with Native Americans in Philanthropy.” – Report: Foundation Funding for Native American Issues and Peoples, by Native Americans in Philanthropy & the Foundation Center (2011)

You don’t see White environmental groups prioritizing Indigenous communities or talking about that colonization is still taking place through their work.  They just tokenize Indigenous people and usually Indigenous men to maintain the stereotype of the strong Indian man warrior.  Because warriors aren’t women or Two-Spirits, right? 

Summer Tourism

The worst place to go in the summer is Traverse City swimming with a sea of tourists from Midwestern cities fleeing their colonial suburban homes. They want their taste of northern Michigan with easy access to overpriced shops and food snobbery.  What you get is people who want easy access to consumption tourism.  They don’t want to be where there is nobody or no sound – that’s too frightening.   

Take Off the Mask

You might as well take off the mask Traverse City.  Your true colors don’t have much color.  You look a little peeked, pale, and famished.  You have a problem and that is your provincial bubble of so called “liberalism.” But you are surrounding by red as a beet conservatism in Grand Traverse County. 

The attitude from Traverse City to Manistee or any place else is arrogance.  Just because the White road of success was laid out so you can have a cozy White life doesn’t mean you bash the folks who were born in dire poverty down by the river in Manistee.  Your bourgeoisie Whiteness makes you a racist asshole.  Many of those folks born down by the river happen to be Odawa Native American.   

Racial Justice

White liberals in Traverse City don’t care about addressing racism.  Having a “Human Rights Commission,” doesn’t mean much when there is discrimination in housing, work, and other areas in your city.  Nothing to pat yourself on the back about.  You have a lot of work to do.  Tokenizing minorities in the workplace is racism. 

Bad Medicine in Traverse City

I am pointing the finger at you and your nasty city.  Most every person I have ever met from Traverse City with the exception of a very few has bad medicine.  Every meeting I have gone there from work has turned to shit because the people are shit.  I’ve heard “Manistee-tucky,” and “we are better than Manistee,” from mostly White hillbillies who think they are somehow above the realness of Manistee.  I was there one time for work on my car and a White guy said, “you don’t look Native American, you look Pakistani.”  Do you get out much from your White town?  Then he went on to say, “the Native people around here are fat.  They are lazy.  They don’t live the culture.”   The town is so full of racism that my list could go on and on. 

From my point of view, the excessive amount of money (i.e. – Old Mission Colonial Peninsula) taints the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians.  Members of this tribe are influenced by the gentry and bourgeoisie White liberalism that taints the land.  The culture is not strong nor is it intact.  The patriarchal Christian White influence has infiltrated the tribe.  Money is driving the band and if you have money before culture you lose the people.  My tribe is very poor but the culture is intact.  There are many many many sober community members who do the work and help other community members heal across Anishinaabe Aki.  This bad medicine in Traverse City has tainted any sort of centering Anishinaabe people in the region.  I will not do work in Traverse City and avoid that place like the plague.  If we have a meeting you can meet me in real salt of the Earth places such as Manistee or the anywhere in the UP! 

Defending Manistee

Not revealing too much about who we are one thing I can know is Manistee is real.  Manistee is far more diverse being inside the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians reservation.  My friend visited from Detroit and was happy to see Black and mixed families in Manistee.  We are real and not fake.  Manistee is not without problems.  Conservatives in Manistee here have encouraged my work on racial justice.  They are acquaintances at the park and friends.  When I first moved to Manistee I was impressed with Odawa kids playing with mixed race and Polish kids.  There is racism here too and White liberals who deny there is a problem.  Some have gone to Africa to paternalistically “help.”  Some who say they are Christians when they find the biggest sand dune and bury their head in it when racism is in their own backyard.  Manistee is working class and real.  Thank you Manistee for creating allies with conservatives and doing community work with people that is truly inclusive.

Poem: Ode to the Conservative Woman Who Helped to Heal Me

The dim lights behind the curtain near the factories,
You are closer to the low hum and rumbles,
Closer to working class struggle of sounds that snuff out your dreams,
Sounds that silence your screams,
Sounds that perpetuate division,
Across the small town – rez town,

The door opened,
I greeted her and sat down,
She said she should couldn’t stop crying,
She showed me the book that she was reading,
The Verbally Abusive Relationship,
Expanded Third Edition,
How to recognize it and how to respond,

The dim light,
Curtains drawn,
Low hum working class sounds,
Mold and mildew smells,
How to respond? 

I too was frozen

She cried in her bedroom,
She said she couldn’t stop crying,
The love she felt,
It never went away,

I too was frozen

How to respond?
But to close the door,
To listen to the low hum,
Watch the steam rise from the factories at night,
The food bank corn,
The Kmart shoes,
The tears soiling sheets, 

She too was frozen

The conservative woman in Manistee, Michigan,
Aninshinaabe Aki,
Was this woman,
Was me,

The book I emphasized as resources to others,
I sat gazing out the window,
Crunched up in a ball,
Sipping tea,
Laying my asema on the snow,
Dim lights flickering,
Bad wiring for the working poor,
The factory smoke,
The low hum on the land, 

The door I shut numerous times,
The pinnacle of this moment,
I couldn’t stop crying,
She couldn’t stop crying,                                                

I was frozen,
She was frozen,
We were frozen,
But we were healing together.

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.

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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)