Reblog: closing doors & opening windows

Award winning  poet, Vera Wabegijig, published her first book, Wild Rice Dreams, after 20 years of writing poetry. She shares poems, and her life, with readers through her blog of the  same title.

This week she posted about her ongoing journey of art making, service and healing. I am grateful to her for allowing me to share it with you. She began:

For four and a half years I had the pleasure to work at a local Indigenous women’s centre here in Ottawa as a cultural programmer. Over the years I put my energy in service of Indigenous women and children who came through the doors. The mandate is to serve Indigenous women and their families who are escaping domestic abuse, healing from intergenerational trauma, survivors of residential school, and who want a place to feel safe in an urban world. I learned so much about myself, my path, and my passion. The work itself was rewarding and it helped me to clarify where I really want to go with my love for language and my passion for writing. It challenged my worldview, ideologies, and beliefs. It was really life changing.


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Brief Interviews with Native Playwrights!

Jason Grasl Lying with Badgers by Jason Grasl (Blackfeet)A Blackfeet man faces his troubled relationship with his late father and his culture when he returns to his estranged family’s remote mountain home.Jason GraslWhat is your favorite thing about playwriting? The idea of ultimate creative freedom in any directionWhat is your least favorite thing about playwriting?The realization of the…

via Meet the Playwrights – Festival of New Plays — Native Voices @ the Autry

Tom Brady and the Politics of Hatred

Early-FoliageI imagine I became fond of watching and listening to sports in part, because I am an American male, and in part because I had Polio and could not really play them. Radio and television allowed me to imagine I was an athlete, to participate in some small, crucial way in the lives of able men. Anyway, I remember imagining that I, too, could be a heroic athlete, that somehow my Polio body could be transcended.

This afternoon I watched a few minutes of the Patriots game. When I tuned in, a Bills’ player was being immobilized, having experienced a serious neck injury. The Patriots had achieved an enormous lead and the injury seemed both heartbreaking and senseless.

Over the past few years it has become evident that American professional football (as opposed to soccer), in spite of its phenomenal popularity, is hugely problematic. Life changing physical injuries, head traumas, and incidents of domestic violence are much too common. Indeed, the sport seems to require and condone violence, sacrificing players and their loved ones on a regular basis.

I have followed the Patriots for many years and, over time, have come to greatly appreciate Tom Brady, who is unquestionably a hall of fame quarterback. This week, however, Brady appeared to come out put in support of his friend, Donald Trump’s, bit for the Presidency of the United States.  This in spite of Trump’s overt racism, misogyny, and hatred of religious and ethnic minorities, and those with disabilities or non-dominant sexual orientations. Trump has also demonstrated a long-standing dislike for Native America, and this week he reputedly agreed with a debate questioner that a Muslim should not be President, and said he would consider ways to rid the country of Muslims.

I have been trying to understand why Brady would publicly support someone who spews hatred towards the people he depends on for his life and career. After all, he is married to a woman, has Afro-American, Asian, and Hispanic teammates (some probably Muslim) who PROTECT him on and off the field, and works in Boston, an ethnically rich and diverse community. He clearly is entitled to his opinions. Yet, why would he publicly say suggest he agrees with Trump’s views? I am left wondering, “What is he thinking?” Perhaps he is as arrogant as many in the media seem to believe.

I’m offended, after all, I’m Native and disabled. I hope you are offended as well.


Spring-FloodSpring has arrived. Well, sort of. The weather continues chilly and damp, and decidedly gray.

This morning we listened, as we usually do, to Harmonia via our local Public Radio station. Today’s program explored the music of composers killed or affected by the Plague.

This set me to thinking about Polio. Polio was a plague – or rather remains a plague, as it is making a comeback. For those of you who came of age after the mid-fifties, missing the plague years, it may come as a surprise to learn that Polio terrified North Americans for decades. Continue reading

Emergent Universe Oratorio Blues

Coach Barn, Shelburne FarmsLast Sunday we traveled down to Shelburne Farms for the world premiere of the Emergent Universe Oratorio, composed by Sam Guarnaccia.  The Oratorio is a work that re-imagines the dominant culture’s physics-based creation narrative, and seeks to universalize the story. Before the Oratorio we were treated to the playing of Eugene Friesen, of Paul Winter Consort fame. New Paintings, created for the event, by our friend, the marvelous artist, Cameron Davis, graced the walls in the remarkable, “cathedral-like” Breeding Barn. Continue reading

Eagle Feathers and Hollow Ceremonial Practise: Rape in Pow-Wow Country A Repost from opthunderbird

Family Values

Family Values

Here is an important post from opthunderbirdinfo. Rape and intimidation is a problem for women all around the world, not just in Pow Wow Country. If we had any doubts about this, they were erased on our recent trip. The flip side of this is men, seemingly everywhere, are confused and, often, angry, caught up in confusing and emasculating social conditions and expectations. The combination seems to lead, inevitably, to great suffering.

Dawn Marie Marchand writes:

When I was 18, I was a virgin. I was quite proud of it. Somehow, despite some of the things that had happened to me, I had managed to retain that. I was very close to my grandmothers. They both believed so strongly in not having sex before marriage. It was hard to keep myself in this condition. I didn’t date much. I didn’t judge or blame others because I knew how hard it was for me to not indulge. I never wanted to be a single mom, and I knew single motherhood was likely if I became a teen mom. I didn’t want to become a statistic. I wanted to meet the right guy – the one who would stick around – and wanted to marry me.  just. My parents have been married over 40 years now. My story turned out much different than my Mom’s.

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A Thoughtful Post

From Dancing With Decolonization comes this insightful post. It applies to Disability as much as to Tribal life. Colonizing influences are ubiquitous and difficult to root out; Sometimes it is a challenge simply to identify them.

Undoing my Unknowing

The following is an excerpt of a recent paper I wrote for an Aboriginal Social Work Theory that focused on my personal decolonization. I wanted to share it because, my introduction to “decolonization” left me with a lot of grey areas,  the untangible, and sometimes down right confused me on what this process may look like. Every journey is different and unique but here is a short snippet of my journey.

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More Grief for Tribal People In India

Banyan ForestOne of the most disturbing trends I have noticed while in India this trip is the rise of violence against woman and Indigenous people. Here is an example of institutionalized violence against Native people. Conditions for Native people in India were difficult and deteriorating two years ago. They appear much worse now. Of course, this is in line with events over much of the world. Please voice your concerns to the Indian government.

From Intercontinental Cry:

India opens the floodgates for extinguishment of Indigenous Rights

By • Feb 22, 2013

India’s central government has walked away from its position on the need to obtain consent from Indigenous peoples and forest dwellers before handing their lands over to industry.

On February 15, the central government announced that major “linear projects” such as roads, railways, transmission lines, canal systems and pipelines do not need to obtain consent from affected forest populations before clearing their lands. The announcement, which stands in sharp contrast to provisions in the Forest Rights Act, could now make way for hundreds of new industrial projects that would have never otherwise seen the light of day.

“This is serious breach of trust and a huge step back in ensuring the dignity and survival of traditional forest-dwelling people across the country”, said Dr. Swati Shresth, from the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment. “Forests are going to be cleared to make way for a particular kind of economic development; it will adversely impact communities and the environment.”

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Scathing Human Rights Watch Report On RCMP

From Indian Country Today

Human Rights Watch Details Alleged Abuse, Rape, of Aboriginal Women by RCMP Officers in British Columbia

David P. Ball
February 14, 2013

Explosive allegations of gang rape, widespread abuse and anti-Native racism have rocked Canada’s national police force, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), which vowed on February 13 to investigate the claims by one of the world’s leading rights groups.

According to a shocking report released on Wednesday by the respected U.S.-based Human Rights Watch (HRW)—which interviewed 50 aboriginal women and girls in numerous communities for its research—police officers gang raped one woman, stripped, sexually abused or raped several detainees in custody, and created a “constant state of fear” in victims.

The report, “Those Who Take Us Away,” details accounts of alleged widespread abuse by the RCMP.

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