I do not know how to be an Indigenous Woman.
Therefore, my soul wonders. I have fallen so far from my centre. My roots have become dry and brittle.
The Mountains, the lakes, the rivers, they are not the same. I know this because my Gram did tell me stories of how things once were, when she was young.
I must tell you the sad part about this though. Yes, I had a grandmother to tell me stories about her childhood and speak some of the Okanagan language to me; what she could remember.
Because let’s not forget, she was told not to speak her language, so she forgot most of it as she grew old.
My grandmother lost her centre. She was told not to be an Indigenous Woman. And her roots became dry and brittle.
We should have grown up speaking our language. We should have been taught our traditional ceremonies.
I look around and wonder what Elder really knows about about our indigenous culture. I do not mean this as a slight to any of the Elders. It is a tragic reality that we are faced with. I witnessed it in my grandmother. I knew that she forgot much of our history due loss of practice and her age. When she spoke our Okanagan language it was fragmented and pieced together with the neighboring language which is Thompson. This is what she managed to hold on to. My grandmother had remnants of stories that were variations on stories that I was told by other Elders in the community. Dry, brittle roots.
Through my teen years, I was taught to believe through religious, biblical teachings, that my traditional ceremonies, and customs were evil. The truly sad and ironic part is, I didn’t even know how to partake in any of these ceremonies or customs. I had not been taught any of them. I sure did know that I would end up in hell if I took part in them though.
As I continued to grow up I hoped that I was not identifiable as a Indian. I hated that my skin was dark, but in comparison to the rest of my family I was quite fair skinned. This gave me a false notion of blending in with the white people. It is so amazing how we can trick our mind with the tiniest thimble of nonsense when we are so desperate for validation from others. I wanted my worth to be measured from my likeness to my white counterpart. A standard I could never meet.
I want to know how to be the strong Indigenous Woman that I was born to be. I do not want to be a cardboard copy of the white girls around me.
Short of pitching a Teepee, I do not know where to start. I don’t even know of Teepee’s were used by my ancestors. I am saying some funny shit here, but, as I say it I am angry. Why? Because it’s the sad truth. I don’t know the answers to those really basic questions and it hurts my heart to admit that.