Our Continued Rise Isn't a Mystery
It is an inevitability
Boozhoo, indinawemaaganidog! Aaniin! That is to say hello, all of my relatives! Welcome to another edition of An Irritable Métis. We are fully embroiled now in the season of gift giving and stuff buying, aren’t we? The end of the year looms and we still don’t know whether we are careening toward a triumphant finish or just another cliff to go screaming and flailing over. We cling to hopes for the best, don’t we? At least I do, irritated by it all or not.
Simultaneously this is also the annual opportunity to rail against this capitalist hellscape we are living in, the commercialization of it, the stress and misery, et al. Again, I’m going to try not to do too much of that. There are eleven other months for that and now that we’re here, let’s just try and survive it, eh? I will urge everyone though to avoid the throwaway junk, try and buy from local people, and to take care of yourself, as this excellent Instagram post suggests.
I will also urge everyone to consider … buying my books! They make excellent gifts! For those of you who don’t know already, I’ve written two books, with a third due in 2023. My friends and comrades at Fact & Fiction Books in Missoula have signed copies on hand of the first two as we speak! and I’m also happy to darken their doorway to personalize them in any way you might like me to. If you order online, just put whatever you want me to say in the comments. Those booksellers know how to find me, shove me in a chair and slap a little holiday cheer into me.
So here’s the first one, One-Sentence Journal: Short Poems and Essays from the World at Large which won the 2018 Montana Book Award and a 2019 High Plains Book Award and really initiated everything I’ve done from then until now. You may order it by clicking HERE. The second one, a book of haiku and haibun poetry called, Descended from a Travel-worn Satchel, was published in 2021 by Foothills Publishing. It wasn’t something I ever thought would be out in the world to any great extent but when the opportunity came I was very happy. You may order that one HERE.
There’s also this!
And this for yourself if you haven’t already! There will be a paid subscriber-only edition later this week that is related to the aforementioned OSJ, and you won’t want to miss that.
Last Saturday I attended the First Peoples’ Winter Market held at the fairgrounds in Missoula. It was a production of Indigenous Made Missoula, an "Indigenous women-led organization created to empower, cultivate opportunities & create visibility for Indigenous entrepreneurs, artists & talent." There was so much great stuff and an excellent turnout of people checking it out, at least it seemed that way to me. I was thrilled to see all the art and all the smiling faces.
There was also, in another building at the fairgrounds, an event called the "We Are Still Here" rally, with a subtitle of "When Indigenous People Lead," organized by ACLU of Montana. I attended that too. It was a wonderful event especially considering that of the six speakers, all but one were women. I 100% support Point 5 of the Red Nation’s 10-Point Program that states:
I was sitting in the front row so I don’t know how many people were in the room but I wish there had been more. I always wish for more people when Indigenous folks gather to speak, though.
I came away with some thoughts. I love all the energy and enthusiasm of our younger relatives when it comes to such gatherings and we couldn’t do them without them. But I would also like to see a little deeper thinking on occasion, which I think only comes with the inclusion of an elder or two. The speakers were great and in particular I was pleased to hear more than one of them talk about how good it felt to be asked to speak about something other than Native trauma. Which is true; all too often it seems we are asked to talk about the terrible things done to Indians, how much it sucks sometimes to be an Indian, etc. I do my share of that and I want to think twice about doing so moving forward. We have to raise our voices to speak to how colonialism is an ongoing aggression, which it is, but goddamn it’s good to be Indigenous too. So let’s remind people of that whenever we can!
Considering all of the changes we’ve weathered since time immemorial, what is 500 years of colonialism? 1000 years? It is nothing. Our oppressors are nothing.
A case in point: people are often surprised to learn Indians are still here. We as Indigenous people can get carried away with that too. We must challenge that narrative. Of course we are still here! Why wouldn’t we be? As hard as colonialism and white supremacy and capitalism and all these terrible things have come at us, we are more than just “still here.” We are powerful, and getting more powerful, because we belong here! We aren’t still here because of resilience, it is because we are mighty! Considering all of the changes we’ve weathered since time immemorial, what is 500 years of colonialism? 1000 years? It is nothing. Our oppressors are nothing. We were here before all that, we will be here after. Our continued rise isn’t a mystery, it is an inevitability. So let me say this again: We are powerful. We are mighty.
Yes, we must raise our voices and our fists and rally people to oppose the colonists in court, on the streets, wherever they push back against who we are and how we live. Yes, at times it seems difficult … but that just comes with survival. It’s part of being alive. There is nothing new we are fighting for. Everything being oppressed and attacked and killed by the spiritless system trying to impose itself on the world is an expression of how things should be, how it always has been. It is this adolescent system of colonialism and capitalism that is new, trying to inflict its power over the way things should be, the way they have always been. Bodily autonomy, personal sovereignty, tribal sovereignty, a system of care where everyone looks after everyone else … that is the way of the world. These cares are what have held communities together for thousands of years. They attack us because they fear us, especially when they see that all their best efforts over time are failing.
If you see yourself as part of the dominant culture and think you are, or want to be, an ally, if you think you need to do something to help “the poor Indians” or “the poor Queer people” or “the poor Black people” or anyone else, you best reconsider because you have it wrong. We aren’t the ones who need help, you are. You are allying with us to help yourself, to preserve your own future as a loving relative. Our ways will endure. Will yours? Joining us is a beautiful step on your own behalf to be part of something timeless.
Freeflow’s Online Silent Auction
For the second year in a row the Freeflow Foundation is sponsoring an online silent auction to raise funds to pay for scholarships for people to participate in Freeflow programs who may not otherwise be able to. This is one of the most important things I’m part of and I hope for it to be wildly successful. There are a ton of auction items you may register to bid on HERE and I urge you to do so. Great stuff from great sponsors! I’m already in one bidding war with some philistine who has no idea what they are up against! Importantly, your generosity will put a butt in a raft or canoe and that butt’s life may be changed. That is no small thing … regardless of the size of that butt. Butts matter.
A couple things I might draw your attention to. First, one of the items being auctioned off is a saunter at Council Grove with yours truly. Imagine that! CHECK IT OUT! This is such a big deal that no one has even been able to steel the courage to bid on it yet, so be the first. If you’re local, go for it. If you aren’t but you’re close by, go for it! It’s one of my favorite places on the planet.
Secondly, here is this package to the Mountain Words Literary Festival in Crested Butte, CO, in May. I’ve been to that! And if all goes as planned, I’m going to be at the next one. You could be too!
Poetry as Spiritual Practice
I’m doing another “Poetry as Spiritual Practice” workshop through Poetry Forge. The one in September went great, so we are doing it again. We will meet for four Tuesdays in January; the 10th, 17th, 24th, and 31st, from 11:00AM – 12:30 PM Mountain Time. You can register HERE but don’t mess around as I think it is already half-full from the waiting list alone. I’d love to see some of you from here, there!
There’s probably something I’m forgetting but this is enough of my jibber-jabber for one message. Miigwech for staying with me! Here’s to hoping we can survive these next few weeks….
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