One Born of the Other – Generation Justice

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Photo Credit: Jaelyn deMaria

Losing

In a previous blog I shared the words Indigenous activist Casey Camp Horinek said to me. They meant a great deal. They were warm and wise. And I missed that kind of good talk.

A year ago, I lost both of my grandmothers. I didn’t do enough as a granddaughter for either of them and then they were gone. They were the roots keeping everything together: family, identity, motherhood and tradition. I drew each line back to those women. I felt like a tree uprooted.

It’s selfish, but I mourned for myself too. I was only just starting to embrace what they gave me, a birthright to my culture, and I lost a chance to learn it all. My doubt was never greater.

I could rely on others to teach me, but when do I slow down long enough for learning? Not the learning of schools or books, but the learning of words directly from the Earth.

Learning the words of ancestors feels impossible when your mind speaks the words of colonizers.

She spoke it to me even though I didn’t understand.

She listened to me even when she couldn’t hear.

She let me fall asleep even when she wanted to visit with me.

She let me ignore her even when she missed me.

Being with an elder is slowing down, but more importantly, it’s meaning to slow down. It’s taking yourself out of your world and trying to be more than just a visitor in theirs.

If you have the chance, don’t waste it.

Becoming

Many creation stories in Indigenous culture speak of people born directly of the Earth herself.  And their sustenance is food that is often depicted in figures like the Corn Mother.

This is no accident. The first people knew the power of the essential relationship between Mother and child, thus, the earth is our Mother and we her children.

It’s also no accident that my Indigeneity is the precursor to my feminism. One born directly of the otherMother and daughter.

Still, it’s a strange thing to keep a life within your life; to go from one heart to two hearts and become a mother. But, the strangest part of it is how naturally it comes. It seems impossible, but your soul stretches itself instantly to a size it’s never been before, and never to go back again.

I know that’s what happened to me when I had my son because I recognize the stretch marks on my mother’s soul. The moments when she made herself larger than life to protect and care for her children. All the women in my family did this, they still do.

I’ve often heard people describe themselves as coming from a family of strong women. Because for many, older sisters, aunts and cousins occupy the same place of reverence and respect. This is particularly true in Indigenous families because these women are, in essence, also our mothers. 

These are the women I look to now. They are the matriarchs. And I know I ask too much when I expect them to teach me a lifetime’s worth of knowledge because, at times, their understanding is also unsteady. But, they’re my roots now and I am thirsty.

 [:es]One Born of the Other

Losing

In a previous blog I shared the words Indigenous activist Casey Camp Horinek said to me. They meant a great deal. They were warm and wise. I missed that kind of good talk.

A year ago, I lost both of my grandmothers. I didn’t do enough as a granddaughter for either of them and then they were gone. They were the roots keeping everything together: family, identity, motherhood and tradition. I drew each line back to those women. I felt like a tree uprooted.

It’s selfish, but I mourned for myself too. I was only just starting to embrace what they gave me, a birthright to my culture, and I lost a chance to learn it all. My doubt was never greater.

I could rely on others to teach me, but when do I slow down long enough for learning? Not the learning of schools or books, but the learning of words directly from the Earth.

Learning these words of ancestors feels impossible when your mind speaks the words of colonizers.

She spoke it to me even though I didn’t understand.

She listened to me even when she couldn’t hear.

She let me fall asleep when she really wanted to chat.

She let me ignore her even when she missed me.

Being with an elder is slowing down, but more importantly, it’s meaning to slow down. It’s taking yourself out of your world and trying to be more than just a visitor in theirs.

If you have the chance, don’t waste it.

Becoming

Many creation stories in Indigenous culture speak of people born directly of the Earth herself. And their sustenance is food, which is often depicted in figures like the Corn Mother.

This is no accident. The first people knew the power of the essential relationship of Mother and child, thus, the earth is our Mother and we her children.

It’s also no accident that my Indigeneity is the precursor to my feminism. One born directly of the other–Mother and daughter.

It’s a strange thing to keep a life within your life; to go from one heart to two hearts and become that mother. But, the strangest part of it is how naturally it comes. It seems impossible, but your soul stretches itself instantly to a size it’s never been before, and never to go back again.

I know that’s exactly what happened to me when I had my son because I recognize the stretch marks on my mother’s soul. The moments when she made herself larger than life to protect and care for her children. All the women in my family did this, they still do.

I’ve often heard people describe themselves as coming from a family of strong women. Because for many, older sisters, aunts and cousins occupy the same place of reverence and respect. This is particularly true in Indigenous families because these women are, in essence, also our mothers.

These are the women I look to now. They are the matriarchs. And I know I ask too much when I expect them to teach me a lifetime’s worth of knowledge because, at times, their understanding is also unsteady. But, they’re my roots now and I am thirsty.

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