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: A Two-Spirit Case Study

I put my stethoscope to the community,
I listened,
Most of the time quietly,
Or "underground,"

Right wing Christians,
Who are Native,
White tribal government structures,
Two-Spirits who are shamed,
This isn't traditional,

Still getting shunned,
I listen,

When children are neglected,
Ignored,
Abused,
Not fed breakfast by their Father's,
I listen,

The soul is wide open,
Listening,

The soul is black,
Tarnished,
Damaged,
Disjointed,

Scrambling across the territories to seek bits and pieces of healing,
To run into shards of glass of liquor bottles,
The addiction of a thirst unquenchable, 
A thirst to heal not understood by dominant culture influences and colonization,

Running into walls,
Abuse sprouts onto walls and window panes in the form of mold,
Mold toxicity damaging spirits,
This is a mold toxic house,
The house a metaphor for toxicity all around,
A mold toxic body,
A mold toxic soul,

Shards of broken glass shattered into souls,
Sharp edges,
It hurts,
This racism,
This internalized racism,
This sexism,
This internalized sexism,
This homophobia,
This internalized homophobia,

To seek but to stumble,
Imperfection as a survivor of genocide,
Swaying under the dim lights of this podunk-redneck-hick-NDN-rez-town,

What you seek is not out there,
The teachings are what you seek,
It is not a pedestal,
It is not a tribal government structure,
It is not patriarchy,
It is not abuse,

The soul listening can assembled the pieces,
In a de-insdustrialized way,
In a de-colonized way,
Yet no one cares to listen,
Still I listen,
Quietly,

A Two-Spirit observance and case study,
A community broken.

Poem: He Didn't Mean To

I could be like Victor,
And throw the empties at your abandoned house,
No one will say that "we ain't doing this no more,"
At least no one in your family,
They will turn a blind eye,
Even when the results and facts are as such,

Unlike Arlene,
No one could say to you that,
"We ain't doing this no more! No more! We're done with it,"
Instead you threw that suit case in your truck and ran,

I guess you "didn't mean to,"
Broken furnace,
Standing water in the basement for years,
Slowly draining,
Slowly filling,
Mold growing up the walls,
In the walls,
In the floor boards,
Furniture,
Clothes,
Soiled and wet carpet,
Mail piling up,
Foreclosure,

I guess you "didn't mean to,"
You could cry but never share why,
Instead moldy pictures of the past you held in your hand,
Alcohol destroying your spirit,
Drugs making it worse,
Shutting the door to everyone,
You are not there,
Hello I say,
Boozhoo I say,
No answer,
The torment of letting go slowly,
The suppressed feelings,
Emotions,
Abuse,
The family system broken,

Then Thomas asks Victor,
"Hey Victor, do you know why your dad really left?"
Victor responds, 
"Yeah. He didn't mean to Thomas,"

He's been running his whole life,
This Indian guy,
I used to be you,
I used to run away,
I remember sitting in a circle with "friends" in a house in Oshkosh Wisconsin,
Feeling ungrounded and wanting to run,
Feeling unsafe with these "friends" like they would take advantage of me,
Or rape,
Or sexual assault,
Then all the parties,
I don't want to remember throwing up,
Weighing 104 pounds,
Or almost renting a shoebox sized apartment with a moldy bathroom,
The halfway house and the Indian man luring me in,
And I ran out the door,
More unsafe places,
Yellow houses with yellow energy,
And running,
And wanting to always run away,

Recoil the spring,
Dismantle this,
He didn't mean to,
Those blinds growing mold,
Windowsills with slimy black mold,
Scrubbing to clean,
But will not come off,
The mold is inside the structure,
Inside you,

Will the illness be dismantled?
Demolished?
Destroyed?
Will this establishment be condemned?

Poem: Naaminitigong, Niizh Migizi

Reckless stories,
Shaking hands,
Do you see the poverty?

I am tired,
Tired,
Tired,
Tired of not being seen,
Native,
Indigenous identities,
Explored,
Delved,
Developed,

Please stop romanticizing our past,
Present,
And future,

The child was crying,
Mom and Dad were fighting,
The youth got pushed back,
Pushed down,
Beaten down,
Scale,
Statistics looked over,

My heart is achy,
Ancestral lands,
Environmental pollution,
Environmental racism,
Rez town,
Studied in books at universities,
While lived out,
Breathed out,
Lungs in pain,
Poverty,
Addiction,
The tearing of abuse on the spirit,

Someone let us down,
Someone gave up on me,
Said I am Native American,
But didn't say my tribe,
Didn't say anything about my teachings,
Traditions,
Dances,
Foods,
Ceremonies,
Lumped me into a group,

I was crying over the wood stove,
Chipping paint off my clothes while walking down the street,
Romaticization of our teachings,
Romanticization of who we are,
I've cried enough tears,
While the culture looks on,
Ignores me,
Ignores us,
Romanticization of who we are today hurts us,

Poverty is dirty blinds unopened,
Untouched,
The old carpet,
Poverty is the yellow haze,
Depression from oppression,
Crying tears alone,
Darkness pervades,
Addiction gripes you, 

Your dark spirit,
Ancestors want you to heal,
The darkness is not yours but the pain the trauma,
Carried and past,
From the generations,
While our hands sought our traditional territories,
Horrifying situations were placed in our hands,

Ancestors crying,
Ancestors feeling,
Ancestors assisting,
Ancestors all around in a circle,

Let me see your spirit,
May it come to me with no shame.

Poem: Justice/Injustice

Justice,
Injustice,
They will lock you up,
For not fitting in,

And we can feel the hands on our faces,
The ghosts,
The arms holding us down,

We are all "sinners,"
Dormant dreams,
Die,
Alongside railroad tracks,

And the train moves,
Slowly,
The sound of the coupling rod,
Side rod,
Piston rod,
All making a sound,
Rust,
Rusting,

A thousand screams in our souls,
Can't be released,
Can't be released,
Can't be released,

A thousand screams in our souls,
The bars are around us,

We want freedom,
To speak,
To live,
To be ourselves,

The burden feels insurmountable.