For the most part, I look like what most of my DNA is which is Euro-centric. With a grandmother from Central America, I thought and considered myself 25% Latina for most of my life (until I recognized that was a colonizing term). I've also always known I had a great great grandmother from a Northern Californian tribe. Information was harder to find when I was growing up. So, beyond what I knew about my family, I accepted a lot of what was taught in school and never questioned how colonialism in its various forms, through government and religion, white-washes most information including mixed-family information in favor of "the light".
After an intense spiritual experience in 2002, the slow meltdown of my previous life began so I could begin, with barefeet, to venture on a spiritual path. Several years later, that would lead me to Costa Rica where I would be re-schooled, if you will, and in one night, by the Earth Herself. I know... it was crazy. Thus started the aspect of the journey that I would say became "mythophrenic" as I began to live in service to the Earth. I am only starting to feel comfortable talking about this openly now. What I began to see was an old story. Indigenous societies at odds with "modern" socieites. "Back then" but still now. Eventually, and fairly recently, my spiritual journey led me to the work of Layla F. Saad on how to be a good ancestor.
The journey to be a good ancestor is still young for me, even after all these years on my spiritual path. For years the family did not know which tribe my great great (possibly great) grandmother, Anne, was from. How could that be? The short of it is that settlers (meaning part of my family) exterminated up to 90% of my great grandmother's tribe, the Wailaki. But I never knew what I could do about it. I told my husband for years that I wanted to take a train ride up the CA coast and visit the reservations the Wailakis are on. Although, looking as I do ("white"), I wasn't sure that was the best way to go. I started following a Wailaki hashtag on Instagram and found a fellow "SiStar" to follow and eventually reach out to. That encounter deserves an entire blog post. It was an experience that meant so much to me, reconnecting with long lost family and a fellow medicine enthusiast at that.
My comic and my novel touch on Indigenous themes. Is it acceptable? I don't know. Through Layla's teachings I would say it borders appropriation. I am given white privilege (I realize), I technically have more genetic makeup from Europe combined and my appearance is fair aka "white". Does it count that I long to understand the part of me that has been suppressed? Should I not be able to explore my longings, journeys, and revelations through art?
What I know is I will delve into the appropriation topic in much more depth in a separate blog post. For now, with the work that is coming out, it is not my intention to steal but to highlight ideas or stories or prophecies because, as an artivist, I think they are worthy of bringing attention to and it gives me a way to address the issue of appropriation creatively.
To say I am Native proud may seem artificial to some, coming out of my Euro-centric countenance. It's true, I don't know as much as I'd like about the cultures I want to be proud of, but I'm on a journey and we are all recovering from generational trauma. In my case it was some ancestors of mine trying to not only exterminate other ancestors but systematically erase their stories and any empowering narrative. What I am proud of is the aspect of my heritage that survived the genocidal invasion. Proud of the El Salvadorian Mayan mix I am, proud of the Native Cali that I am, and proud of any Goddess revering indigenous Euro-pagan I have left-over from the Irish, English, Spanish, and Dutch before they were Christianized as well. But truth be told, it is my responsibility to accept it all, whatever it is that has made me. It is my work to look at it all, show or critique what I disagree with, and bring light to what I would like to see transform or thrive.
I'll create a longer guide later, but since I have always related in a remote sense to the Native Cali in me, I will share some links now that are meaningful to me personally as a distant relative of those roots as well as what it is important in context of the story I tell.
B.YELLOWTAIL - Is a Native American owned fashion & accessories brand that specializes in storytelling through wearable art.
COUNCIL OF 13 GRANDMOTHERS - Global alliance of the traditional medicine healers to pray, educate, and heal Mother Earth and all her beings for the next seven generations.
HONORING SACRED PRACTICES - Do you "smudge" or use crystals?
LEARN ABOUT TRADITIONS - Helpers Mentoring Society
ILLUMINATIVE - New nonprofit initiative designed to increase the visibility of – and challenge the negative narrative about – Native Nations and peoples in American society.
ALL MY RELATIONS - Native perspective podcast on issues faced today by Matika Wilbur and Adrienne Keene.
HONOR THE EARTH - Nonprofit organization dedicating to awareness and action surrounding Indigenous environmentla issues.
Last words. I am not one for violence. But there is an aspect of me that wishes this little girl existed and, what she is "saying" in the video happened... meaning they sent the invaders home. I am grateful of my life and I love many people that would not exist had there not been the genocide of Manifest Destiny but... once on the spiritual path you start to look at existence differently. I am not so beholden to my body-temple or life that I think "my being" warranted the extensive and continual suffering of some of my ancestors. I get it. We i-dentify completely with the small little " i "'s. But we are part of this Earth. We are part of Her. We are here and go on even if the little " i " of the human body, of the family line did not or does not continue to exist. Humanity is part of Her. If we see the world in this way, it no longer makes sense that we would hurt others as we would be consciously hurting ourselves.