An Indigenous Woman’s Monologue

Transcript from the Associated Students of the University of Washington’s Women’s Action Commission’s annual event, “The _______ Monologues” Performances on February 13-15, 2014 at the University of Washington Husky Union Building

“Be Asian, Be Latina, Be Pacific Islander”

“Be something…… mixed”

“Be American”

“Be anything but native”

“Because you should ALWAYS be ashamed of being native.”

Embrace your chameleon color, not as indigenous caramel, but as a racially colonized label.

Be a Christian, Be patriotic, Be a Democrat, Be a Republican, Be a capitalist

Be a wife, Be a child-bearer but nothing else.

Because matriarchs and matrilineal societies are gone, just like your roles and your ancestors.

And assertiveness you were brought up to embrace, is way too aggressive; I don’t get to enjoy your sweet side that is so attractive!

“You should speak English”

“You should vote”

“You should just let me call you Patricia”

Because Eaonhawinon, woman of the bear clans, woman of the Mohawk and Tlingit nations cannot speak the language of her people, or head the house of her clan…

These are the things I have been taught…..

Being ashamed is healthy, and that my privilege to culture and belonging to the land just as it belongs to me, are conquered.

Now, I belong to a state

Now, I participate in the institutions that have erased and re-write who I was and what has remained of my resistance for thousands of years.

I was taught that capitalism works and potlatches don’t.

That bartering and sharing are primitive and un ”sophisticated.”

That the crest engraved in my skin, the jewels that hang from my ears, nose and lips, reflecting and embracing my ancestors and their instructions to listen, act and speak with care and respect for others are considered “unprofessional” and unattractive. What I am and how I reflect my identity is ugly.

All because who I was meant to be threatened someone else’s power.

My existence and occupation on this land is just as avoided and silenced as the voice that speaks for me in the United States government, in movies and most of all, in equality.

And yet…

It’s so popular to be something like me and my indigenous sisters.

It’s so popular to embrace tan skin when it’s coated over ivory.

To artificially embrace the curves that creator gave me to make me fertile.

And yet….

I’m still …….fat. I’m still…… ugly.

Just like my children will be

Just as my sister’s children, as you took them away and adopted them off, erasing all of their genetic memories…….. as a trophy of imperialism

And you continue to exploit our wealth, our sacred parts, like you exploit the resources of my home in the name of conquest.

I’m dominated every time I’m called Indian, something depicting a completely different nation, far from familiarity to my own.

I am dominated every time I’m called American.

Every time my belonging, here, is erased and replaced it with that of Americanism.

Because around here, we don’t speak Lushootseed, or Lakota, or Lingit…

No, around here, we speak American.

Because….. this land speaks English? You know from England?

You will never look at me in the eyes and say….

Gusoo wa’ee? Axh Xhoot, axh dia’ak, axh cha’ak, axk chookenshaa. Ixhsixhaan.

I’m dominated when the assimilated wear tribal patterns and feathers and fringed clothing from Urban Outfitters or Forever 21, with no sense of worth or value to them outside of a dollar sign.

Your hyper-sexualized distorted version of what a native looks like is what makes me 3 times more likely than any woman of another race to be raped, and 8 times more likely of being murdered. You know, they say native women are the most victimized group in the U.S.?

And let me tell you about your claim to your grandmother being a Cherokee Princess… Every time you tokenize those words, you invalidate what privilege of identity I have left.

Plus….. I’m sorry love, but Cherokees never had princesses. Because, we didn’t have monarchies.

My culture isn’t worth anything, because it’s priceless and it holds more relevance than a trend or a damn costume.

I see it when my brown siblings forget….

that we came from the same roots, hold the same belonging, but are separated by boarders, by state-nations labels, by blood quantum, by religions, and most of all by colonizing languages.

Whatever origin, whatever race or identity,

We were all once indigenous, we had belonging to land, not a government but a land

That formed our speech, our face, our bodies, and our knowledge.

You and I were once the same.

And I decolonize because colonization isn’t over. Colonization still exists.

I see it when I’m the only native at a party,

When I hide my alcoholic drinks from photos and unfamiliar faces, because I’m afraid you see me as an alcoholic.

You know, like that native bum at the park next to Pike Place, being antagonized by the police officer again,

Because society thinks he’s drunk because he can’t handle responsibility or control.

I’ll tell you the truth:

That man is my father

And he doesn’t drink because he can’t handle his reality

He drinks to forget his reality.

To forget that the reality of being native meant he would be put in a boarding school for ten years, run by a church, legalized by a government, to have the language, the identity, the empowerment, the knowledge and the resistance beat out of him. To be humiliated and molested throughout his childhood in an institution created to better assimilate us into being Americanized.

That man will never be able to teach me our native language

Or share with me stories of heroes and myths.

Or even hold a consistent role to show me affection, simply because he, himself, was never given any.

And if he did anything responsible and accountable in his life, it was that he helped create me to tell you this.

Colonization exists when the only opportunity to seem productive and treated as an equal in this society is through academic education

When cultural education isn’t acknowledged as anthropology, theology, geology, sociology, or intellectual tools for answers of modern day problems…….

I see colonization when my first experience of getting drunk wasn’t around my friends who I could laugh about it with later.

No, the first time I got blacked out drunk

Was when I was 17, and decided to go drinking with the friends I associated myself around.

Around people who I thought were friends, especially men, who I thought would teach me how to pace myself and how to respect myself when I get drunk, who would assure me that I have nothing to worry about when I don’t remember my actions the next morning.

No, it’s because of the assimilation that those relationships didn’t exist.

Instead, I was taught to lose…… control,

And that control exists in the hands of the men who I thought loved me.

I see colonization when alcohol was the only excuse for the damaged men in my life to tell me that they loved me.

I see it when I was locked in the bathroom with a man that night, after he taught me it’s okay to abuse myself and my body much as I abuse alcohol.

Locked in a bathroom for only him to know why I awoke sore, violated and ashamed of not taking better care of myself the next morning.

Locked in a bathroom to tolerate how he thought I should be loved. There was no one to protect me, because there I had no brothers.

No one to protect me when I woke up the next morning. Not only was I sore and confused, but when I woke up at the bottom of a stairway, calling a hospital with the last remaining power on my phone, because I couldn’t move my legs. I couldn’t move my back. I woke with a pain that I will never be able to dull out. I woke up with my lower back broken in two places.

No one to prevent me from shamefully lying to my family and friends until right NOW, tonight, about why I could never be honest with them, and that I don’t remember. For 6 years, I have held that truth from them, and from…. Myself. I had no brothers that night to protect my 17 year old self that had never been fucked up before.

I hope you’re not assuming that I am referring to a bother that is son of my mother and father…..

No. I’m referring to a brother who respected and protected me without a second agenda of taking all of my body, all of my affection and love, whether it is by consent or force.  The roles of siblings were lost when my community stopped acknowledging clans systems in the city and off the reservation, alleviating the responsibility of clan siblings, and when every native woman became a victim and not a survivor, a she-ro.

The roles of brothers, and sisters and siblings, who were supposed to teach me how I want to be respected and loved, but instead I learned how to make babies before I made goals, and how to be vulnerable with my heart before I learned how to make boundaries.

It took me 20 years to have a brother.

It took me 20 years to see a man as someone that didn’t only hold a curiosity of taking all that is mine away. All that is supposed to be sacred to me.

But now… I have a brother. I actually have siblings.

I have several, embracing me, regardless of genetic differences.

The family I made remind others of my presence.

My existence is my resistance.

With the existence of the indigenous, there is still hope

Hope that society can change

And that the world as we knew it won’t die, because it is as indigenous as I am to it.

I don’t want human rights

I don’t need your help

I don’t need your financial assistance.

I don’t need you to tell me I have rights.

I don’t want acts to be created to grant me permission to do anything on this land

All I need is responsibility

All I need is your solidarity

To protect the land that gave me these almond eyes

And this olive skin

To protect our identities, and to remember what we still have.

To protect our indigenousness.




One thought on “An Indigenous Woman’s Monologue

  1. Pretty powerful writing. My heart shattered towards the end of your poem/stream of consciousness, when you retell your story of abuse.

    Keep fighting, keep loving, keep living, always moving forward, but keeping those who came before us in mind, and in spirit.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s