We hide in plain sight beside you.
Wanting to be seen, wanting to be heard.
Voices and in some instances- languages silenced in the wake of what Columbus started.
Now, we are less than two out of one hundred.
I might tell you that I am Native and I might not. It depends on if I want to have to answer questions about “how much Indian are you?”, my tribe and about being Native/Indigenous. I am not sure if it is coming from genuine curiosity or if I will have to defend my point of view against your unknowing AND your unknowing of your unknowing.
Even the most “well meaning” among you often come from a place of privilege. The bias of belief is deep. I, most recently found myself in a conversation with a very “well meaning” friend who was talking about how powerful a declaration the Declaration of Independence was. For me, it was not a liberating document. It is yet another one that built upon liberties proclaimed against indigenous peoples who came here under the mandate of the doctrine of discovery.
I have a visceral reaction. That doctrine supported Spain’s strategy to ensure its exclusive right to the lands “discovered” by Columbus the previous year. I know my friend’s heart and that she is extremely well intended but that was not my impact. We shared points of view and listened to each other openly.
For her it was a declaration of her ancestors’ freedom from a country that enslaved them.
For me that same declaration was a declaration of my people’s enslavement for her ancestor’s liberties.
We heard each other. It took each of us listening to the other’s point of view, to land in a place where transformation could happen. With patience and dialogue, we figured out how to proceed together from here, from the new possibility.
I love it that it is in some places “Happy Indigenous People’s day” is celebrated instead of Happy Columbus Day! It’s hard for me to even put those words together in a sentence. I never knew how to celebrate the man who led a movement that wiped out most of my people. Like I said we are less than two-percent.
So for the new holiday, Happy Indigenous People’s Day, consider it a gift.
Maybe we can unwrap some things…
Maybe we can look at things deeply, painfully from the other’s point of view,
Maybe we can transform what’s possible for the future.
Maybe instead of asking
How much Indian I am?
I never heard of your tribe.
I didn’t know y’all still exist…
You could ask what is it like for you?
And really listen, deeply openly listen,
As if hearing for the first time.
And be heard as if being heard for the first time.
I walk in 2 two worlds always, all ways.
I walk in the spiritual ways of my people and in the spiritual ways of Christianity.
Sometimes understood by both and misunderstood by the other.
One world is the one of my ancestors.
One is the world of your ancestors.
And that’s my two-cents
from a less than two-percenter
who walks in two-worlds.