The Indigenous Winter Solstice

*Prayers to Chief Spence as she enters her 12th day of her hunger strike.

I would like to say wopila to the First Nations oyate of Canada for starting the Idle No More movement. The are truly unifying the Indigenous of Turtle Island and making us see how to be good relatives to each other and treat each other. The Idle No More movement is such powerful movement of unity. Watching the videos with my mom and seeing her eyes tear up made me tear up too. She said “This is the time, people have to start understanding us. It’s just time.”

We talked in length about how they just shoved us onto reservations, reserves, or where ever, whatever tribe ended up. How the governments just fucked with our people so long, finding different ways to oppress and kill them off. Everything from the rotten food that was given, to the hunting rights taken away, to legally not being able to practice our spirituality, every aspect and every facet of the Indigenous life on Turtle Island was meant to exterminate them. It is a horrible history of genocide, every family has terrible stories of losing family members to forced adoption, incarceration, alcoholism, etc. It is like a Steven Speilberg movie of the death of millions, the ethnic cleansing, the mass hangings and massacres still listed as battles…it’s all one big ball of horror that Speilberg never made a movie out of, that history books rewrote so we were the bad guys.

They tried to assimilate and make us forget who we are and where we came from. They tried to brainwash and hogtie our spirituality.

But you see they underestimated every single one of us. They underestimated our hearts and our spirits. And they underestimated that every one of us have and believe our ancestors are behind us.

They never knew our ability to carry that resilient gene in our DNA would grow with every generation. They never knew someday our prophecy would come true and we would say enough. They never knew it would be an Indigenous Winter Solstice.

What’s funny is I read a comment by a non-Native who posted “What do they want? Why are they doing this? I don’t get it.” And see you wouldn’t get it if you lived a cookie cutter life. If you live in a rat maze and run on a hamster wheel. If you live in a world where plastic is cash and cash is king. If you have done everything in your life the way you were supposed to do it and it was good as long as you keep up with the Jones’. And there is nothing wrong with that. That is how you were raised. And we were raised differently.

But when you go to your church do you feel what we feel when we gather and burn sage and sing to our ancestors? When the drum beats with our hearts and our voices unify and carry to the skies? Do you understand our family structure of having a couple hundred cousins, a few dozen aunts and uncles, a dozen grandmothers and grandfathers, and more than one mom or dad? Do you understand when we learn in school it may not be the standard way the kids who were modeled after the tests they give us because we didn’t come from a household with just your parents, a dog, and cat and maybe a sibling or two. We came from a household of many. Because housing is scarce on our reservation. We come from offering coffee and food to visitors and making sure children and elders eat first. We come from nations of relations, the first recyclers, because why throw it out if it can still be used. We come from the innovative, “make it work somehow”, type who will find a way. We come from having societies who protected us, societies who healed, societies who took care of the elderly. We had our structures, societies, clans. We were civilized beyond belief.

We were fine. But when Turtle Island was invaded and slowly our peoples lives changed, slowly our way of life was taken bit by bit. The hard lives our people lived and all the struggles and strife they went through made us a stronger people. We’ve been idling, and growing in population, and gaining strength by passing on the way of life that survived. We’ve been waiting.

And yesterday was the end of the world. The end of that world where we only have a role in the history book as a defeated people. We were never defeated.

And this is “What we want.” The Indigenous want you to know that with the end of that world, the new world is here. We’re here to take care of the land that has been raped far too long, to protect our sacred water, land, and life. Grandmother Earth has been crying for this time for too long. What we want is understanding that we have been idling too long, and that time is over.

You will now have no choice but to understand us and our ways.

And that starts with a drum, a song, and a round dance.

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6 thoughts on “The Indigenous Winter Solstice

  1. for me, this is your best piece yet, and rings true with all i am. With the forced adoption, the rage i have at that, at all that has happened to my “family”,the years and knowledge i will never be able to recover, and also the Pride I have of being native, and canadian First Nations…

  2. This Celt too! TPTB destroyed our clans long ago, killed and absorbed the left overs until we no longer know who we are. My are are full of tears of JOY and I am with you in spirit.

  3. It’s been said, all we have to do is continue to exist and grandmother will never perish. I have lived that cookie-cutter-cash-is-king kind of life. I’ve lived the traditional life too. I’ve been trying to get back to traditions for the past so many years. For most of my childhood I was made to attend Catholic services–Christianity never made sense to me, though. As a young child going to sweat lodge ceremonies and learning our drums and singing made sense. My white father never welcomed people into our home, whereas my mother would always warmly welcome anyone into our home. My father also tried to teach us that he gets to eat first… my mother would always say, “younger ones and elders eat first, then women, then lastly older boys and adult men get to eat.” This made sense, as well. My was also sent to an orphanage at the age of 5, then raised in a series of white foster homes until she was 18. She still had that sense of traditionalism inside of her. I guess it was passed onto me, as well. I sun dance, I put tobacco down, every morning and evening. I live as responsibly for NDN Country as I possibly can–which is difficult. As of tomorrow I’m once again unemployed, but I’m also without a home. Living in my truck. I don’t feel pity or anything remotely kind towards Western Society, these days. Why? Because I did do all the right things, but I was kicked out of college several times, have never been able to get a decent job, just left with absolutely nothing. Today, is a new world. New changes need to begin. I will always fight for my people, because we need to take back the role of caring for this land that Western Society stole from us. No, we don’t own the land, the land owns us.

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