Today I made my first author visit to a school in my community, and it was absolutely amazing. For those of you who don’t know, I live in Six Nations of the Grand River, a First Nation community on Turtle Island (what is also referred to as North America). My community is one of the largest First Nation communities in Canada, and like all First Nation communities—it has a systemically underfunded education system and is recovering from the assimilation policies of the federal government. There’s all kinds of nuance and complexity in just this paragraph alone, but suffice it to say that I grew up in Six Nations and have since built my family home here, and my love for my community and the schools in my community runs deep. (I also work at an Indigenous post-secondary education institute located at Six Nations).
The school I visited today is one that places high value on the transmission of language and culture, having programs in both Cayuga language immersion and English. I was grateful to be invited to the school, and more than a little overwhelmed by the response of the students to the book they had read as a class, The School That Ate Children.
Ah 2017. Where to begin?
2017 was another difficult year for the world. We continued to see the impacts of climate change. We continued to see and experience overt and systemic colonization and racism in attitudes, media, policy and practice. We continued to see people in our communities and across the world suffer. Here on Turtle Island, we continued to hear governments talk about reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples without seeming to be sincere about it. (Or not talk about it at all and enact laws that endanger those standing up for land and water). In so many ways it was a real challenge to read the news this year. To hear of men and women losing their lives simply by walking down the street or for standing up against hatred. It was heart-wrenching and infuriating and it made you want to do something to help. To take action. To ease suffering. To make things better.
And strangely enough, amidst all of these dark and difficult things that we probably all carried the weight of in different ways, people actually did all of these things. Eased. Took action. Made things better.
Sge:no Swagwe:goh! Hi everyone!
I've been holding onto this very exciting news for the last few weeks and now that it is September, I am super excited to share that starting tomorrow, I will be taking a year off to do more intensive language learning!
Those of you who have been following the blog may know that for the past year or so, my husband and I have been making a concentrated effort to speak more of the Cayuga language in our home. The results of this effort have been really inspiring. The majority of our baby’s new words are all in Cayuga and our three-year old daughter also is able to speak and understand a lot of the language as well. This made us realize that things would moving along faster and even more language would be spoken in our home if I were to become a more proficient speaker. And so that is what we are going to do: take a year and focus on increasing my speaking proficiency.
Dear Ione and Vivian,
I am writing this letter for you, because I think it is important that you understand some of the things that I have learned in my life that have to do with being an Indigenous woman living on Turtle Island and of belonging to the league of nations known as the Haudenosaunee Confederacy.
A lot of what I am going to share with you is reflective of things I have learned and thought about over the last fifteen years. Things I am still thinking about. There are stories about your family members here as well, about your grandfather and your uncle. About your grandmother and your aunties. Your family on your father’s side has many stories to tell as well, but I will let him tell you what those are.
I want to start by telling you that there is a lot of history in our community and that not all of it will be easy to read or hear about. But I did not know these histories growing up and I had to learn them in a sometimes hard and difficult manner over many, many years. I do not want the same thing for you—not when there is something I could do about it. A way I could empower you with knowledge by informing you sooner, though even by telling you—I cannot promise you will not grapple with similar issues in your lifetime.
Part of the reason why I’ve been doing so much art over the past year, is because I’ve always wanted to make graphic novels. Almost every story I write comes to me in some kind of visual form, and so I really want to explore this kind of storytelling over the next year. This story is one of the ones I eventually hope to illustrate. It’s also part of a collection of other writings I hope to release in a short story collection over the next year. It is a story about two assassins, and blends together fantasy, nature, history and science. It is a fictional exploration of stories about Jikonsaseh, the first clan mother, and explores different options about what the potential meaning of her name might have been and imagines a first confrontation with the wizard Tadadaho. There is also a comet and an eclipse—which is part of why I decided to share it today.