Fractured Identity: I come from something.

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I used to believe that I came from nothingStephanie Campos  (11)

I arose from the earth that split through the concrete

The bastard child of two worlds

I played war as a girl with the pieces given to me

My fragmented identity

did not match the Eurocentric definitions of rights to privilege.

Nor could I shapeshift

to fit into the popular portrayal of the noble savage.

My desirable image,

relegated to a dusty history book and staged photographs.

This is what real Indians must look like

So what am I? I asked

My father told me of his youths aspiration

To collect his first welfare cheque

Breeded and bound to poverty

He broke that first link that held us back

Shovelling pig shit and breaking sweat to dig us out

So that we, as children could be replanted, in fertile ground

He sat my brothers and I in a row

One little, two little, three little,

Indians.

He told us, that is who you are in this life

Tears cut tracks down little cheeks

While our mouths put up a fight

As if our sentences could wrestle with our blood line

And pin it down,

Make it say Uncle, Grandfathers, Grandmothers, I am not of you

In this imaginary fight, we had the world to gain

And everything to lose

Night after night my father told us tales of young braves,

War ponies, and animals that spoke words

The message was that who you are is beautiful

And in your blood line you will find worth

Trust it.

Identity disrupted.

Communication error.

Breaking all lines between here and there.

I spent over a decade rebelling

And running from myself

I used to believe I came from nothing.

Being Indian meant being

The embodiment of all things I have never wanted.

Being Indian meant being my

Alcoholism, my abuse, my anger, my neglect, my sorrowful cries.

Being Indian meant being

Dirty, broken, jaded, faded, a story told long ago in the midst of the darkness of the night.

Forgotten, invisible, it meant holding your head low and avoiding white eyes.

I wanted nothing of this kind.

Undo me Indian, I cried.

Turns out I knew nothing of what it meant to be Indian.

Every single story I had lived was a tale told by the mouth of colonization

I was showed images and taught by voices that whispered assimilation

Conform, rebel and forget were my lullabies

I white washed myself and forgot about my blood line

Who I am is beautiful, trust it.

I began to attend ceremonies, to learn language,

To know my culture, to know the history of a people

That remained and survived genocide

Stolen generations, germ warfare, suicides,

Spiritual restrictions, physical afflictions

I come from a long line of people who have survived.

I find home in the language that escapes

My grandmothers mouth

I no longer wrestle with words

But now I can say them proud,

I am an Indian

I come from the Dane Zaa and Cree tribes

I cannot be undone

My prayer songs will forever be sung

And out of this land I have come

Into the Earth I shall return

My stories and knowledge

Will not be unlearned

I come from strength, pride, and resiliency.

I will not be forgotten willingly.

Hakatah Wuujo Asonalah.

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6 comments

    1. Thank you for the good words, forming a healthy identity especially when coming from an indigenous or ethnic minority is quite the challenge today, but worth the effort 🙂 🙂

  1. The crisis of identity is a profound mental and spiritual affliction that few who have not experienced it can understand. This is a beautiful poem.

  2. wow! no one has ever sent this message out any better. Reminded of my father. You are someone. you are an Indian and be proud!!!!!!!!!

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