Friday, May 16, 2008

have been in california for this week - yesterday was a heat wave; quite the experience for this minnesota body not yet acclimated to summer weather - i wilted by late afternoon in the heat approaching 100 degrees. i have been thinking about indigenous people and how we have our tribal identity - based on language, spiritual beliefs and connection to a particular piece of land, area of land. so many indigenous people have been led to believe, through genocide and forced assimilation, acculturation that they are singularly 'indigenous' - 'native' - or some national identity - this erasing of tribal identity appears to create much internal confusion, and also lessens the ability to relate with other tribal identified folks. it is heartbreaking in the same way of meeting folks who are the product of foster/adoption out who have not figure out how to come home. we recognize them as family but it is like they cannot see us as them.... that was one of the strengths of the indigenous conference - the peoples there KNEW who they were and stood firmly in their selves, their tribal identities and their sense of belonging. this is my hope for all native peoples - that we can all find once again that being, that place, that sureness of being and standing exactly where we are - belonging there/here.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

yesterday at the indigenous theater conference we heard from isabel juarez espinoza, an indigenous actress from chiapas; about her struggles becoming an actress in the face of sexism and how other women are now joining the company and it has become a place of empowerment for the women who come to the city.  they are using theater to address issues of self-esteem, domestic violence.   beth piatote, from UC Berkley read an amazing poem about being taught beadwork - it is one of those stories that might be best heard; as she did it with the rez accent - very cool.  it is published in a book called Reckonings, out of Oxford Press.  Carolyn Dunn sang, as did Roberta Hill Whiteman.  And i believe it was Javier Castellanos who had the translators laughing to the point of tears in their attempts to translate his work about suicide feelings as a political refugee in the north, way north - if i have the wrong name i will post it later; he apparently is hilariously funny - it was one of those times when folks were laughing, trying to translate and i think those of us listening got lost in the laughter.  Today is the last day of the conference.  It has been incredibly powerful to see this reminder of the prophecies about the meeting of the eagle and the the condor.

Monday, May 12, 2008

i am currently at the Indigenous Writers of the Americas Conferences - Discursive Practices: the Formation of a Transnational Indigenous Poetics at the University of Davis, California.  To be in the presence of indigenous writers, poets, playwrights, scholars and artist/healers from across the two continents is amazingly encouraging, hopeful and healing.  To not have to question or censor ones words, ones thinking and to be understood beyond the borders of language, education, class or imposed nationality is very affirming on a spiritual and creative level.

The entire conference is being translated back and forth between spanish and english with many of the participants initially speaking in their original language first.  It is beautiful.

Last night we heard from Frank LaPena, Jorge Cocom Pech, Graciela Huinao, Victor Montejo, Fredy Romeiro Campo Chicangana and Joy Harjo.  And there are two more days to go.