October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (on the rez)

This billboard is in Manistee, Michigan on US-31 South, after River Street.  In fact, there are two domestic violence awareness billboards sponsored by the tribe (Little River Band of Ottawa Indians) on US-31.  This is the best billboard in Manistee yet.  I was overjoyed and moved beyond words when I saw this billboard!

Helpful Links on Domestic Violence in the Native Community

"According to Amnesty International “violence against women is one of the most pervasive human rights abuses. It is also one of the most hidden. It takes place in intimate relationships, within the family and at the hands of strangers and it affects women in every country in the world…Indigenous peoples in the USA face deeply entrenched marginalization – the result of a long history of systemic and pervasive abuse and persecution. Sexual violence against Indigenous women today is informed and conditioned by this legacy of widespread and egregious human rights abuses.” - USDOJ: Office Against Violence Against Women: Tribal Communities

"Urban Indian women may experience even higher rates of trauma. A study of Native American women living in New York City found that over 65 percent had experienced some form of interpersonal violence. Of that group, 28 percent reported childhood physical abuse, 48 percent reported rape and 40 percent reported a history of domestic violence." - Historic Trauma May Be Causing Today's Health Crisis

Introductory Manual: Addressing Domestic Violence in Indian Country

Other Helpful Links on Domestic Violence

Signs of Abuse and Abusive Relationships

Emotional Abuse

Share Your Story - How You See Domestic Violence

Take Action - Sign the petition: Don't shut down shelters and rape crisis centers - "Starting now, some rape crisis centers and domestic violence shelters may be forced to close their doors, pushing survivors out onto the streets.

Especially in rural, poor communities, these services rely heavily on federal grants to keep running. But with the federal government shut down, funding provided for these services under the Violence Against Women Act ran out last Friday. Services won’t be restored until Congress passes a government funding bill. For a woman who needs help after she’s been raped or a safe place to protect herself or her children from an abusive partner, the impact of this shutdown could be life or death."

We Did It! "Ajijaak" Ojibwe Storybook Funded!

We raised enough funds to cover the costs of printing and binding 100 full color paperback books for the first edition of "Ajijaak." Chi miigwech/thank you for supporting us in this fundraiser!  Here is the link to the Kickstarter page.

3 Days Left to Help Us Raise Funds for "Ajijaak" Ojibwe Storybook!

We have just three days to go to raise funds to cover the costs of printing and binding 100 full color paperback books for the first edition of "Ajijaak." The story was written by yours truly!
Please help if you can!  It would be greatly appreciated!  Chi miigwech!

I am the Only American Indian

The Lunch Table

I am the only American Indian sitting at the table during lunch.  Its awkward but I am used to it.  There's a group of White kids over there.  A group of Black kids over there.  Congregation segregation.  A few stragglers, weirdo's, hippies and nerds on their own.  Congregation bifurcation.  This college makes me feel out of place.  I congregate alone. 

We are so divided by race.  But I feel comfortable, as an American Indian on my own.  I've got some jewelry to represent my culture.  Long beaded earrings, a beaded barrette, my Native student organization bag.  The beat of the drum in my soul. Ancestors all around me.  I just talked to my last Ojibway grandparent yesterday on the phone. She's way up in the UP on the rez.  I feel lifted up and empowered by our talk.  Most of the time people confuse me as White.  So I sit at this table alone, at lunch.  My fork hits the plate.  I eat macaroni and cheese, drink chocolate milk and think about getting dessert, sooner rather than later.  I touch this plastic orange tray.

Shifting in my seat I pay close attention to the birds outside.  No one else is paying attention to them.  That is how city folk are.  They are moving and going and walking and talking non-stop.  So I tune out the loud conversations, laughs and gossip going on all around me and listen to the birds.  They land on branches, hop, skip and perch.  They peak inside the window and look at me.  I feel secure for a minute.

Traditional, Hair

I adjust my long hair.  I have it half way up.  Letting it down and showing my pride.  Sometimes us Natives see each other across campus.  We might not talk when we see each other but we just nod as we walk by each other.  Some Natives wear their hair long and stand out from other cultures.  We shun majority culture influences.  It is like our hair shouts activism, rebellion and reclaiming our culture, heritage and identity. It has to shout because otherwise no one would listen to us. 

I deal with this conversation in my mind of getting gently but oppressively scooted out of the discussion of race in this colonized country.  So I continue to sit at the table at lunch.  I am almost finished eating. I am at this table alone.  I am scooted out of the discussion of race in this country.

Invisibility, Visibility

I've finished my lunch.  I walk alone and place the orange tray in the tray collection area.  I walk away out of the dorm cafeteria.  The smell of fries and other processed foods lingers in the air.  The dimension between the door of this cafeteria and the hallway is surmountable.  I succeed.

I walk out the door, our of the building and down the paved sidewalk to my next class.  I have achieved success in surviving invisibility.