Poem: From Eagle Rock to Standing Rock

Every treaty broken,
Meanwhile genocidal amnesia plagues the land,

We have never left the land,
We have always spoken for the land,
We have never left the water,
We have always spoken for the water,

From Eagle Rock way up in the UP,
In the 1842 Treaty of LaPointe territories,
In Anishinaabe Aki,
To the Ring of Fire,
Attawapiskat First Nation,
Neskantaga First Nation,
Aamjiwnaang First Nation,
To Standing Rock,
We join hands across Turtle Island,
Our tears become the cleansing waters,

Hands on the land,
Hands on the water,
Standing for the land,
Standing for the water,

Ancestors draw near,
Touch our hearts and souls,
As a people we rise,
Together in prayer,

Across Turtle Island injustice is normalized,
Through militarized colonial violence,
Denial of Indigenous identity,
Voice or visibility,
Our sacred sites gated with barbed wire and barricades,
They tell us our lands are not as worthy as a church,
Dominion reigns,

Eagle Rock is mined below,
We have no access to it,
Contamination of the soul is welcome,
We seek to bring healing,

The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community fought for 12 years,
The colonial white government ignores our voices,
Colonization has never ended,

The security guards laugh and take pictures,
I tell them this is our land,
My heart connected to Migizi Wa Sin,
Through the barbed wire fence,
Our heart is Migizi Wa Sin,
I love you my family,
I love you my relatives,
I love you my ancestors,
I love our land,
I love our water,
The ancestors still protect Migizi Wa Sin,
We still protect Migizi Wa Sin,

Missing and murdered Indigenous women,
Girls and Two-Spirits,
Sex trafficking,
The Bakken,
Duluth,
Thunder Bay,
The ports,
Broken hearts,
Broken lives,
Wounded souls,
We never wanted to live this way,

The water flows under the steel and iron,
The voice silenced,
She never wanted to live this way,
Maybe the water will lead her to safety?
To heal,
To be renewed,

We are all rising,
So no one else goes missing in the oil fields,
On a Great Lakes freighter,

We are all rising,
To prevent more pipelines,
Which bring the toxic and patriarchal violence of "man camps,"
To say no more to colonial sexual violence,
We are on the tributary of a healing to a decolonized future,
When we stand and speak,

Eagle Rock is our ancestral soul,
Standing Rock is our ancestral soul,
Resonation in healing justice,

Heart,
Spirit,
Land,
Water is life,

The ancestral soul is rising,
We are rising,
We are here,
We are here with our ancestors,
We are here with the ones to come,

We are singing,
We are dancing,
We are speaking,
We are healing,
We are love.

Poem: On Being a Fake Indian

My Grandfather LaPointe and me - 1982.

My Grandfather LaPointe and me - 1982.

My Grandfather,
I've cared about you since I was 4 years old,
Since I can remember,
The funeral was odd,
I wasn't sad for you,
I knew you were hurting,

Decades later,
Stories were told,
In a suburban home of love and healing,
It was painful to hear what you have gone through,
What I fight for everyday is our story,
That I choose a certain way to live because of your story,

Because of our story,
There was too much to see,
Too much healing to be done,
Not enough supports in the dominant culture,
Crying on the curb,
Rubbing tears on our jeans,
We walked out into the great abyss of the streets,
Scary,

On being a fake Indian,
The stories are what we know in our souls,
No one would deny the pains,
Or sufferings in our family,

The flannel shirts-yellow smoke-bowling-UP energy,
Tired-mining-poverty-poor-rusted truck on blocks-UP energy,
Reservation conglomeration-government homes,

It was our beautiful black hair,
That we took a comb through,
Tears were behind us in the mirror we gazed at,
I was always afraid of my Dad's eyes,
In the rear view mirror,

Pearl Jam said it best,
"forced to endure what i could not forgive,
I seem to look away,
wounds in the mirror waved,"

Saw things,
What did you see Grandfather?
How were you held down?
We were afraid of the tears,
No one told us that Indians could cry,
Could feel,
Could grieve,

On being a fake Indian,
Too much of what I remember,
Homogenization tactics,
But I knew something else,
Whether it was the thunder,

My Dad saying,
"its Grandpa LaPointe bowling in heaven..."
I can remember the orange streetlight and rain coming down
Sitting on the front steps,
Thunder and lightning across the sky,

On being a fake Indian,
Sure we exist in mixed skins,
Sure we exist in a mixed blood identity conundrum,
Where mainstream TV perpetuates "equality" with other minorities,
They've got their tokens,
There are no American Indians on the TV,
We are invisible,
Life ways and identity stereotyped in a racist culture,

On being a fake Indian,
Our story is one that has not been heard,
The rush hour herds,
Daily grind in the name of "progress,"
Forgetting in daily prayers who we are,
Where we live,
The conditions of,
In this oppression,

On being a fake Indian,
No one can tell you what you feel in your heart,
What the family soul feels,
Or what healing we have done and will continue to do,
A beautiful strength,
Against great odds,
This is our choice,
What we have chosen,

What do you choose?

 

She is the Water

Every Wind Ojibway.jpg

Decolonization in a mixed blood identity.  Matriarchy is small particles to collect and hold in her hand.  Walking the shores of the Great Lakes, listening, quietly.  She is your neighbor.  She is working poor, working class and often living below the economic poverty line.  Be careful with your words because poverty is not in her spirit.  She has great wisdom but is invisible in the dominant culture.  She is Anishinaabekwe.

Centuries have past and traditions and ancestries have been mixed.  Yet the memory of her ancestors remains in her heart and soul.  She is elegant even in the face of great adversity.  She is beautiful even in the face of racism.  She is strong when the culture places her into a glass box, which is more oppressive that the glass ceiling, because of her identity as an Anishinaabekwe.

The water must be listened to.  The water must be heard. Anishinaabekwe listens.  Anishinaabekwe seeks and quietly creates the deep, meaningful and real.  The water is soothing.  The water is healing.  The water is wisdom.

What does decolonization mean?  Who is defining it?  Is Anishinaabekwe allowed to have an equal voice?  Decolonization could mean reclaiming culture, heritages, traditions, language and life ways.  Decolonization is much more.  Decolonization is about the land, water, and spirit.

Decolonization is about her, Anishinaabekwe.  Decolonization is taking her hand and assisting her.  Decolonization is giving her a platform, giving her the pen to write and speak.  Ultimately decolonization is about matriarchy.  As title holders of the land and water, not defined under Euro-centric definitions we made decisions about the land and water for our communities and nations.  We were not silence by the colonized state governments occupying our lands.  As the hearts of our nations we were lifted up and given and equal platform.  We had a choice in defining this platform as well.

We have been under the guise of hetero-patriarchal colonial rule on our traditional lands and in our communities.  We’ve had to follow these oppressive rules often by force for survival.  As Native American women we experience the highest rates of sexual assault, sexual violence and rape out of any group of women in the country.  Violence is not traditional in our communities.  Violence on our bodies, the land and water is not traditional.

Collecting these particles is healing and reclaiming who we are.  As women we are the hearts of our nations.  We tend and care for the water.  We tend and care for the land.  We tend and care for our communities.

The water is healing.  The water is purification.  The water is Anishinaabekwe.  The waters of the Great Lakes are deep and ancient.  Stories are waiting to be told by the women, elders, youth and various Anishinaabe communities surrounding the Great Lakes.  Decolonization and matriarchy pave a path for visibility and voice in our communities.  All of our communities need to support Anishinaabekwe, as Keepers of the Water.

Poem: Ancestors Hold You

Simple diffusion,
Metamorphosis,
Biological,
Beautiful,
Matriarchal,

Spirit two,
Walk in worlds,
Deviation,
Hierarchy,
Tear it down,

Crying over the land,
Hair touching the soil,

Crying over the water,
Hair flowing with the waves,
Currents,
Movements,
Of Her,
Of the beauty of Her,
Of the beauty of Michigami,
Of the beauty of nibi,
She is healing,

Matriarchy isn't about the broken circle,
Mending is truth,
Patriarchy wounded our men,
Wounded our sons,
Wounded our women,
Shunned our Two-spirit's,

Matriarchy is the tender blanket of love,
Matriarchy is the circle,
Uninterrupted by the violent thoughts of sexism,
Uninterrupted by the violent thoughts of racism,

Trees reach,
Trees ground,
Trees protect,

The weaving of the fine strands,
The weaving over the waters,
Communities,
Territories,

Ancestors,
Sing for you,
Dance for you,
Surround you,
Hold you,
Love you,
When all was broken,
When your identity was tossed across the land,
Broken into pieces because of the destiny manifested by hungry hearts,

Ancestors,
Heal you,
Listen to you,
Idle No More,

Ancestors,
Grandmother holds you,
Grandfather holds you.