I have held in the thunderclouds of cuss words and the finger that wants to point somewhere to crucify the apathy that I have witnessed within the last few months. Breathe, I would tell myself. Breathe and know that the only way forward is love.
I have fallen apart routinely, breaking under the stress of holding multiple roles as steward of the land, as mother, as social worker, as daughter, as lover, as nation member, as….myself. I crumbled into nothing more than rubble and spirit and Creator resurrected me through long bath tub soaks and tears I would not allow myself to hold in. Cry from deep within the stomach. Guttural moan. Sob. Heal. Let it all out baby, and be pieced back together under full moon and twinkling ancestors.
Each time I hit this point, feeling the weight of lateral violence and the silence of not just the Federal government, but my own people. The people I moved home for. The land I moved home for. The waters that I dreamt about. The land that knows my name and the people that hold my bloodlines. When I hit this point I would grieve and lay tobacco. I would pray, knowing that only love will allow us to move forward. At first I worked hard and lending understanding knowing that a lot of people struggle with addictions and are thick in the midst of the realities of intergenerational trauma. This is why I do the work I do as a social worker. I once read a quote that stated something like getting the white man’s education and tools to build our people into the proudest strongest people in the Nation.. That’s what I wanted to do. But when you move for change, as we did at the Rocky Mountain Fort and you do gain kind words of support, or support never given publicly by others…but yet no real support on ground by your own people…. It takes its toll on your spirit.
I am trying to find my way back to the light. Each time I work and can sit with others as I help them navigate tears, pain, and struggle… I see the light again and am reminded why I am here. But the silence and apathy (or straight out finger pointing at me) is becoming less tolerable. I have a harder time answering in a good way and the need to fall apart surfaces yet again. Am I a martyr? Hardly. This is Indigenous reality, it exists and impacts change makers and those of voice everywhere to different extents and it is difficult to not throw in the towel, pack your shit in whatever bags you have at your disposal, and hit the dusty trail…. Forgetting you ever had a people or a land that you belonged too.
But does that mean colonialism wins? What good does that do anybody? I don’t fucking know but I know it is appealing even in the face of these questions. Okay I do know… turning your back on your people is the ultimate act of colonization. People get all healed up and peace out, and yes sometimes we actually need to do that because the spaces are so unhealthy… but I don’t think that is my journey. I know a lot of us are called to bring that medicine back to our people and be helpers. There are many who probably face this same fleeing feeling.
I am able to speak to my shortcomings and my fears. I often think how I have been slapped with the label of a leader or a “hero” and I think… do people like that admit their weaknesses and vocally affirm their doubts in public arenas? Aren’t they supposed to hold out and remain strong? Feed the peoples spirits with good words and revitalize their spirits? I don’t know what they are supposed to do, but I never set out to have these labels and I will continue to remain true to how I am feeling. If I am sad, I will say it. If I am struggling, I will voice it. I have learned this through the process of becoming sober, that I can only be honest with where I am at.
For over a decade I paraded around with a mask. I cried behind closed doors. I pretended everything was okay. I will never live in such a way again.
At the beginning of all of this fight for land and liberty stuff, I even looked at some of the other amazing Indigenous women in nearby territories and thought to myself…. Wow, I should be strong and fierce like them. Speak more boldly. Embody that warrior spirit. Be fearless…but then I realized, I have been given a path and a specific heart that only allows me to be as I would be. I’m a soft, emotional creature who actually dislikes heavy confrontation. Of course I had to learn how to voice my beliefs, even when I was fearful, in the middle of the woods to men with cameras. I grew, through this entire process… I decolonized. I questioned. I spoke. I cried. I healed.
I usually wait until I have some profound answer to write about things so that I have something to offer but right now I need the writing to undo the colonial knots that tie up my spirit. I have no answers.
I can only trust that I have followed the path that Creator lay out before me and it has led me here to this point. I can only believe that there is purpose and teachings here in all of this madness. I can only believe in the spirits resiliency, as I was at one time… the least of the Nation during the heights of my alcohol and drug addiction… I can only pray for my people and guard my spirit.
And.. pray for spiritual teachers and mentors to be placed upon my path. I need that.
Yes, love is a revolutionary act. I still believe it, and I believe that Creator is testing me and that as you move forward and get closer to making change, or breakthroughs…. that’s when shit hits the fan and gets real. This is real… and I need to process and cry and grow myself to be able to give that love and understanding (also not allowing for any abuses whatsoever because that is unhealthy as fuck too).
This is decolonization in progress.
Helen, always know that Ken and I are so grateful for the cherished time we spent at the Rocky Mountain Fort with you. Our door is always open and if at any time you want to go to the river through our place just contact us.
Sent from my iPhone