The Unseen, Unfelt & Unspoken

ThanxTaking On Indigenous Graves

The Unseen

Is it an uncomfortable truth for the uninvited? An old aching wound that some Indigenous Relations would rather not think about?

Does it put scratches of clarity in the rose colored hipster glasses of today’s blissfully ignorant Indigenous youth?

I notice over the day of colonist thanks taking, among all the social media pictures of enormous spreads of commercialized Indigenous food and posts about black boys shot by white cops in our Indigenous Homelands complete with graphs and charts and pies (both the quantitative and the gastronomic kind) that mostly no one had thoughts about what the so called day of “thanksgiving” Reallllllly is or who it’s really about.

And no one acknowledged that they are living on land taken via the largest GENOCIDE on Earth or that their glutenous feeding frenzy is taking place directly on Anishinaabe land or Creek or Miccosukee or Sioux or Tsalagi or Navajo or 560 or so other Indigenous Peoples Homelands.

Or that where you now park your minivan was once an old growth forest full of living beings, diversified and unified in the web of life.

Or how if you are in eastern “america” odds are high that your house was built on or near a destroyed burial mound where hundreds of loved ones were interred to Mother Earth with intentions of them sacredly remaining together within her forever only to be destroyed and flattened for subdivisions full of all the separately together homes full of all the separately together colonist people that are mindlessly yet “thankfully” “celebrating” the day their white god allowed their relations to smite out the filthy heathens Indigenous to this land, so that they might manifest their “destiny” to become rulers of this living land and all that dwell within it.

This year I decided to just be. To be quiet. To watch and see….if any seeds were planted, if any grew to be yearlings.

Not that I saw. No one acknowledged any of it.

And in all their charts about white on black violence and police brutality across the races, I saw not one shadow or echo of the Indigenous people whose home lands this terror filled colonist drama is unfolding on.

While “Indians” do timeless time in an ever growing rez called prison and in an ever growing prison called the rez, colonists do a mindless mime of a mindless mine, wìth diamonds on their fingers and blood on their hands they perform the american nightmare on a stage of Indigenous lands.

by -Shea Z. Sandy-

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One Cissy’s Take on Trannies, Mis-Gendering & Passing

For those who don’t know, “cis gender” and “cis sexual” is basically defined as the opposite of trans gender and trans sexual, i.e. “cis” people are those who do not desire to medically/surgically/hormonally change their bodies to appear more like the opposite sex than they are (though not all trans people want or do medically/surgically/hormonally change their bodies, but still identify as trans and the sex they more align with spiritually/emotionally/mentally).  Whether trans people physically change their bodies or not, it all creates a shitload of social, legal and political complications within the small, rigid bounds of the colonist culture.

Once upon a time I had a lesbian friend who I dearly loved. We got so close over the years that I considered her family. I experienced her as quite butch with that masculine energy thing going on — whatever “it” was (whether we call “it” gender, energy, essence, or whatever), I thought she wore it well and worked it well, just because it was the thoughtful, sensitive, lovable, loyal, intelligent, hilarious, unique, creative HER (all caps to emphasize her essence, not her sex or gender). Continue reading

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A Stirring of Consciousness: A Strong Indigenous Voice in the Wind Speaks

In response to this tweet:

Came these powerful Truth Arrows:

White Feminism Needs Less Head, More Heart & Spirit

For those who don’t know me, I’m a Russian-Jew. What this means to me, among other things, is that I am afflicted with the over-intellectualizing gene. I think it’s because My People have such a long history of running from persecution and assimilating themselves into whatever current order of things was/is going on at the time to survive that they forgot/lost/mangled their tribal ways of living and being in Balance with earth, ourselves, and other beings.

The above reasons are why I privilege and prioritize traditional indigenous/tribal ways of being, and because a) they make the most sense to my heart; and b) I live on stolen Native land.  I am sick to death of (and pissed right off at) the mind-mining and spirit-eating that the predatory, dehumanizing colonist culture does to people, and for years I’ve been in the process of liberating myself from these shackles.  I’ve come to learn that over-intellectualizing is one colonist shackle that keeps our hearts closed and spirits shriveled.  Closed hearts and shriveled spirits are must-haves to maintain colonialism.

From the moment I discovered (white) feminism, radical or otherwise, I’ve never felt it to be very loving and almost completely devoid of Spirit/uality, most especially in online spaces. I find it a curious thing that despite the many political/philosophical similarities people have, which at first, instantly and excitedly connect us, feminist connections are often fickle and quickly implode, explode or die a painful death when differences of opinion surface.  I recall reading an article a while back written by a 50’s something year old white woman who worked hard for many years for and with a feminist community, and was crushed and suffered major depression when she was dropped like a hot potato by what she thought were her sisters, all because of a difference of opinion. Continue reading

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Decolonizing Sex & Gender: The Pronoun Issue

I came across this post on a facebook group:

The post rubbed me the wrong way in tone and content, so I left this comment:

If we spoke the language of the people whose land we are now colonizing, there is a high probability that we would be speaking a language that does not use male or female pronouns (since there are currently hundreds of different Indigenous languages in North America, many of which do not use male/female pronouns).

Point being it wasn’t and isn’t cool of colonists to force Native people to speak English and it’s not cool to make demands of, or police people’s language, period.  It’s also not cool (and impossible) to control how others perceive and experience us — if I experience someone’s energy as feminine or masculine or both, nothing someone says or does will change this.  I can and do use people’s preferred pronouns to be nice (and for safety reasons – I get it), so I guess if authenticity isn’t a priority in all of this, then it’s all good?  The colonist culture has a real problem with respecting boundaries.

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On the trans* topic in general, from a DEcolonist and Indigenous perspective, it’s really simple:  Nature is to be respected.  Who are we to say Nature’s oddities are mistakes?  When things get unbalanced (which the colonist culture so “successfully” creates over and over), lots of mistakes happen, destruction & suffering abound.  Nature when left alone is perfectly imperfect.  When we take the time to observe Nature, we can plainly see sex and gender expressed and enacted in infinitely diverse ways, and following no rules.  Humans are part of Nature and as similar and different as all animals.  The colonist culture works tirelessly to disconnect itself from Nature in all sorts of ways, creating infinite problems and a collective state of dysphoria.  Creating and building upon complicated ivory tower theories (circles and circles of nothingness)  is part of the colonist process.  The more we DEcolonize and the closer we get back to Nature, the simpler and healthier ALL life will be.  As Native rights activist Klee Benally says, Respect Existence or Expect Resistance.

I would also like to share this very thoughtful article about gender abolition and the following excerpts which I particularly appreciated:

…applying our own concepts of gender and sexuality constructed within white [or any other] supremacist cultures to people outside of our epistemological framework is redefining them on our own terms for our own benefit.

…how can we expect people for whom their gender interacts so closely with their race, their religion, their cultural background, to divorce or even to recognise the bits and pieces of gender that are independent of their culture to destroy?  Or, if gender is an epistemology, is race and other intersectional factors part and parcel of gender in such a way that one cannot simply abolish it alone?  And if we attempt to do that, it leads to the next big problem I have: that the abolition of gender may be, especially stemming from a white feminist bases, a colonising force.

The problem with abolishing gender is not only do we [the self-appointed All-Knowers who carry the burden of educating the supposed ignorants] have to define it, apply our definition towards other cultures, demand they remove gender from their own race, cultural, spiritual or whatever background, but also assume that the abolition of the concept of gender will result in equality or a lack of discrimination.  In doing so, from a white perspective, we effectively create a colonising project wherein we’re intervening in their own identities, behaviours, and practices in an attempt to make their lives better.

/ End of post for now.  I may add to it later, or not.  The trans* issue is quite a cluster fuck within and outside of feminism, and the only way to clearly, coherently and compassionately address AND understand AND make peace within and outside of it, is from DEcolonist, Indigenous perspectives, which is where my interest and energy most gravitates towards — about sex, gender, and pretty much everything else Life-related, since the colonist culture has gone and fucked up so much of Being Human and Life in general.  Liberation = DEcolonization + (Re)Connection with our Indigenous roots — entailing more work and harder work for those of us more colonized and displaced from our tribal roots, but exists within us, on a spiritual and genetic level that colonist science cannot begin to understand or explain.

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Remembering the Brave, Matriarchal Teacher, Artist & DEcolonizer named Russell Means

Feminist Rag Award NEW_Russell Means

“Until you know a woman, you’ll never know Life.”

Russell Means was a brilliant, brave, funny, powerful, and sometimes controversial figure of the American Indian community and their fight against colonization’s genocide and slavery.  He was controversial because he, like any of us, was human and made mistakes and learned many big and small lessons throughout his life.  This post focuses on the GOOD, valuable teachings from Russell that we are lucky to have access to, such as this video where he discusses women and matriarchy.  I love this convo for its truthful power and the “DUH!” humor he throws in from time to time:

Women who call themselves feminists and who dismiss, distort, or otherwise disrespect Indigenous cultures, including disrespecting Native men, have a lot to learn and unlearn.  Extra ignorant is when they do their disrespecting while living on stolen Native land.  If these women are feminists, they subscribe to a kind of feminism I want no part of.  These types of colonized female mentalities are extremely out of balance and some are the mental/emotional/spiritual equivalent of violent serial killing and raping men.  They need to sit down and do some learning about Indigenous worldviews.  What they forget/deny/just  don’t know is that 1) gynarchies (female governance) were the norm among many tribal cultures long before feminism was a thing (more on this here); and 2) we can be extremely violent with our words without ever raising a hand or even our voice, and some women, including “feminists” are experts at this.  BUT enough about the sickness and nastiness of colonized women (which many of us non-Indigenous women sadly have varying degrees of, due to the cultures and families we were raised in, and which is our personal responsibility to undo), back to the late and great Russell!

Some Russell Means philosophy:

The Universe which controls all life, has a female and male balance that is prevalent throughout our Sacred Grandmother, the Earth.

This balance has to be acknowledged and become the determining factor in all of one’s decisions, be they spiritual, social, healthful, educational or economical.

Once the balance has become an integral part of one’s life, all planning, research, direct action and follow-up becomes a matter of course. The goals that were targeted become a reality on a consistent basis. Good things happen to good People; remember time is on your side.

Russell Means did many important and amazing political, educational, creative and fun things throughout his 74 years of life.  He was a fierce, lifelong activist and warrior by virtue of who he was.  He was also a member of the American Indian Movement in its early years, including surviving the second “modern day” US-led war against Native people at Wounded Knee, South Dakota in 1973 (though the war has been raging on Turtle Island/the Americas since 1492).  Russell also appeared in in several big films and TV shows and made some great music.

Russell also founded the brilliant T.R.E.A.T.Y. Total Immersion School system on Turtle Island as an “alternative” to the mind-mining, spirit-eating “education” provided inflicted on us and many Native people by colonists in the dominant colonist culture.  Boi do I wish I went to this school as a kid, and who knows, maybe one day as an adult I’ll go and learn all the important stuff these kids are learning.  A good way to understand Decolonizing the colonist patriarchal education system and learn meaningful, valuable things is to hear Russell explain it:

There’s so much more to learn from this great man, this post is just a snippet.  I think it’s fitting to end this written blog post with Russell’s philosophy about the written word, taken from a speech he made in 1980 that is said to be his most famous one, called For America to Live, Europe Must Die! (the entire revolutionary speech is here) as it is pretty lengthy and wholly awesome and eye/mind/heart and spirit-opening & growing stuff):

The only possible opening for a statement of this kind is that I detest writing.  The process itself epitomizes the European concept of “legitimate” thinking; what is written has an importance that is denied the spoken.  My culture, the Lakota culture, has an oral tradition, so I ordinarily reject writing. It is one of the white world’s ways of destroying the cultures of non-European peoples, the imposing of an abstraction over the spoken relationship of a people.

[I]t seems that the only way to communicate with the white world is through the dead, dry leaves of a book. I don’t really care whether my words reach whites or not. They have already demonstrated through their history that they cannot hear, cannot see; they can only read (of course, there are exceptions, but the exceptions only prove the rule).

For all those written-word worshipers out there, remember this Russell truth-bullet when it comes to academic “experts” regarding anything to do with Indigenous people or their cultures:

“A master’s degree in “Indian Studies” or in “education” or in anything else cannot make a person into a human being or provide knowledge into traditional ways. It can only make you into a mental European, an outsider.”

Thank you Russell Means for all you did for your People, and the rest of us occupying your People’s land, who have so much to learn from you and our own Indigenous roots that were colonized out of us for so long.  Your legacy and teachings will live forever and may they be shared, learned and used widely to help create a good, healthy and balanced world for All.

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Puttin Up My Titties 4 Bridget Everett: A Thrilling, Hilarious & Raunchy Force of Fresh Female Power

Feminist Rag Award NEW_Bridget Everett

I never really had weird body issues — I probably should, but I don’t; you know, I’m the big girl.  I had to figure something out, so I sort of kept screaming until someone heard me.  Not to be corny, but music and singing is the way I communicate.  It’s given me a better understanding of myself. [..] I just go on stage and become this terrifying, fucking amped-up party girl with the voice of an angel.

“My mom always made me feel like I was beautiful because of what I looked like, not in spite of what I looked like”

With an album titled Pound It and songs called Titties, Fuck Shit Up and What I Gotta Do To Get That Dick in My Mouth?, what’s not to love about Bridget Everett?!

I just recently discovered this wicked awesome and outrageous singer-performance artist after watching her perform her song What I Gotta Do on the season finale of the Inside Amy Schumer show (a separate post to come about the brillz & hilarious Amy).

Bridget’s brand of feminism is one of my favorite – the creative, fun and sexy kind.  Who was it that said they had to dance at their revolution, or something like that?  Well Mz Bridget puts a whole new spin on that idea. There isn’t just dancing at her revolution, there’s super talented singing, swearing, nudity, motor boating, and the spraying of faux cum all over the place, which really, is the ultimate resolution in sex & gender equality, aint it?  That is, for everything to be good and right, loving and respectful and balanced between the sexes so we can get back to being the free, wild animals we are, having a mutually consensual orgasmic time doing whatever and whomever we want, The End?  And of course gleefully not doing anyone if we don’t want to either, for a shout-out to the asexuals, non-sexuals, celibates, and other such folk out there.   Well, that’s two of many, many Good Life versions of my idea of a post-colonial, back-to-tribal-living world.  But back to Bridget!   The quotes* & clips speak for themselves – her words and work inspire my feminism and overall lifeforce in some exciting ways, and hopefully they will yours too.

I hope that sometime, if somebody sees me onstage, stripping down to almost nothing, they will see that it’s just a body and hopefully that can give somebody some comfort somewhere. [..] I think the human body is really cool and there is something pretty spectacular about everybody.

Seeing a plus sized woman in a see-through, barely there outfit singing about how you should love whatever kind of titties you may have is, well, kind of my thing. [..] it’s been really cool being around a group of people that embraced the weirdo in me, and the sex maniac, and the crazy thing, and go with it.

I think some people are freaked out by me throwing my body around on stage but I’m like, literally, it’s just tits. And you grew up sucking on one to get what you need and now you’re getting them in a different way.

On feminism, Bridget says:

I’ve always identified as a feminist. But there was a time when I was finding my voice as a performer, where I wasn’t sure if what I was (and still am) doing could be considered feminist. My “character” on stage (which is really just the super hero version of myself) is totally wild, often naked and frequently inappropriate. Then I realized that I was being true to myself, free of fear and totally 100% in charge of my body, and that, to me, is part of what being a feminist is all about.

About her creative process and rising success, Bridget explains:

[A]t the end of the day, I’m surrounded by a wildly funny and creative group of friends.  We all just do weird shit that makes each other laugh.  And they don’t judge me for what I do or say.  It’s really freed me up and unleashed the beast.  In fact, my friend, Adam, inspired me to write my own songs.  I’ll say something kind of fucked up and he says, ‘Sounds like a hit.’  And I literally take whatever it is that made him or whatever other friend laugh and write about it.

In the end, I want people to leave the shows feeling like they just went to a great party and when someone asks them why, they can’t really explain it.  They just know they have to be at the next one.

Next time I’m in New York, I will most definitely be checking out this rockstar of a woman.  Thank you Bridget for so boldly, unapologetically and self-lovingly being YOU, you’re a fun and inspiring space-taker-upper and I’m thrilled that you’re sharing your wild self with us!

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* All quotes (and descriptors of Bridget used in the montage I made) are from articles and interviews found here, here, here, here and here.  Hope you enjoy her as much as I do, may she inspire the WildWoman to blossom and shine within us all and take up and OWN our space strong n’ proud!

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Remembering Maya Angelou who Taught Me the Life-Taking and Life-Giving Power of Words

Feminist Rag Award NEW_Maya Angelou

I caught an Oprah’s Master Class episode the other night which featured a conversation with Maya Angelou, may she have died without suffering and may she live on in peace and love in some other dimension.  She described how at age 6 or 7, she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend and didn’t tell anyone except for her brother or cousin of similar age. He then told an adult, and shortly after that, the man who raped Maya was put in jail and was either beaten to death or killed himself. Right after that, Maya went mute, because in her 6 or 7 year old logic, she came to understand that her words can kill people because she said out loud the name of her rapist, and the chain of events that followed ultimately resulted in his death.

Kids can teach us so much when we take the time and Respect to understand them.

Maya’s mother didn’t know what to do with her newly mute daughter, so she eventually sent her away to live with her grandmother, which Maya said was the best thing that could’ve happened to her. With some support from her grandma and a family friend, she began to read and write. And eventually she began to speak again. During the years of being mute, Maya discovered the world of the written word and clearly became a master of it.

Watching Maya speak, it struck me how much innocence she had and though she was in her 80’s, I could also see the little girl in her. I think it’s such a beautiful thing to keep that part of us alive. It can never die anyway, we can just get really good at building walls and fences to protect it after its been hurt one too many times. It doesn’t take much to break an innocent heart, for it is so fragile (but at the same time, I am daily astounded at how equally resilient the human spirit is). The colonist patriarchal culture isn’t exactly brimming over with respect, gentleness and compassion FOR our inner children to be out. Even so, I think we let ourselves down when we don’t honor our inner, innocent child and her/his needs, wants and dreams.

Words are so very powerful. They can deliver pain and suffering and deflate the lifeforce out of people, and they can also deliver love and gentleness and build UP the lifeforce.

Before my sister was born when I was 8, I was a sad and lonely kid living in a home of darkness. I only knew it was dark because the one friend I had, when I would go to her house, felt so light. Maya said:

You must be careful about the words you use, or the words you allow to be used in your house. Someday we’ll be able to measure the power of words. I think they are things. I think they get on the walls. They get in your wallpaper. They get in your rugs, and your upholstery and your clothes, and finally, into you.

When I think of my childhood home, the words that seeped into our walls, furniture, clothing, and ourselves were words attached to un-loving values.  Harsh, cold, dark values, such as judgment, comparison, expectations, male supremacy, hierarchical thinking, and general ignorance (the adults not knowing how to do much more than provide us with our basic needs, not knowing how to communicate, resolve conflict, and generally raise us girls to be our full and true shining selves).

Words have values attached to them, and values are what shape, make (or destroy) Life. This is why I am so drawn to indigenous worldviews and values, because they are so radically different from colonist ones, and make such a difference to the human heart and spirit. In this post I illustrated just how different indigenous cultural values are from colonist ones, and it is an hourly, daily and lifelong process for me to decolonize and undo the colonized values I was born and indoctrinated into, and replace them with more healthy, loving ones.  Personal Responsibility is a real and important and powerful thing, we all have it, and as hard as it may sometimes be, it’s our duty, as human beings, to take responsibility for ourselves, our lives, and all the things we DO have power in.

I’ve been the kind of person who thinks out loud, which sometimes has me meandering and finding the long, windy way to Truth.  I know and so appreciate people who are precise with their words, who think a lot before speaking, and speak and write with clarity and coherence.  This is something I would like to do more of, and Maya inspires and reminds me of just how important and impactful our words are.

So in closing, I leave you and me with these insightful words from Maya Angelou:

Try to live your life in a way that you will not regret years of useless virtue and inertia and timidity. Take up the battle. Take it up. It’s yours. This is your life. This is your world. You make your own choices. You can decide life isn’t worth living. That would be the worst thing you could do. How do you know? So fall. Try it. See. So pick it up. Pick up the battle and make it a better world. Just where you are. Yes. And it can be better and it must be better, but it is up to us.

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Decolonizing the Appropriation of the 2-Spirit Identity, ***As Explained by a 2-Spirit***

Two-Spirited Women of Today: Shea Sandy (left), an Anishinaabe Indigenous/Aboriginal rights activist, poet/ singer/song writer/multi-instrumentalist, and L.Frank, (right), a Tongva-Acjachemen artist, writer, tribal scholar, cartoonist, and indigenous language activist

Female-bodied two-spirited women of today: Shea Sandy (left), an Anishinaabe DEcolonizing, Indigenous rights activist, poet/ singer/song writer/multi-instrumentalist, and L.Frank, (right), a Tongva-Acjachemen artist, writer, tribal scholar, cartoonist, and indigenous language activist

“Homophobia and gender hysteria are european values that found their way into some Indigenous cultures only after initial european invasion and during it.” — Shea Sandy

SO MUCH has been and continues to be said and fiercely debated about sex and gender and transgenderism/transsexuality, especially within feminism, with some radical feminists being the most critical and rejecting of trans* identities.  The debates are fierce & deafening.  I want to strictly stick to a decolonist approach to the issue here.  This means trying to think and imagine really hard, what life WAS, IS (in some places), and CAN be like if we lived as indigenously and respectfully with the earth and eachother as possible, and as far away from a colonized mind, heart and spirit as we can (we all come from tribal roots before the process of domestication and so-called “civilization” began).  DEcolonization is very hard for those of us who are non-Native, and/or those born into the colonist culture; DEcolonization is a lifelong process that requires active un-mining of the mind — mining done to us by the predatory colonist culture — and undoing the values & behaviors the colonist culture rewards, encourages, and holds so dear, while replacing them with healthier ways of being.

A blogger over at ‘culturallyboundgender‘ (“CBG”) attempted to tackle sex & gender as it relates to trans* identities by writing this article analyzing the Indigenous (American Indian) “two spirit” identity and how it is wrongly being appropriated (meaning to take on or do without consent) by non-Native trans* people.  Unfortunately she missed the mark and mis-informed on some important things, and the best person to explain how and why is an actual 2-spirited Indigenous voice.

So below is a response to CBG’s article that comes from Shea Sandy, who is an Indigenous two-spirited woman, artist, and Native rights activist and member of the American Indian Movement for over 20 years.  CBG chose not to publish Shea’s response in her blog’s comments section, so I am posting it here because it is important and because traditional (DEcolonized/non-assimilated) Native voices are the ultimate authorities and experts on all matters to do with Indigenous cultureDUH!  And naturally, Indigenous two-spirits are the ultimate authorities on two-spiritedness, since it is an indigenous identity.  Here Shea speaks for herself and her 2-spirit identity, and not for all two-spirits of the world, since Native voices are as diverse as the many Nations they come from:

Interesting article.  I definitely feel as an Indigenous american (Anishinaabekwe) that the Indigenous “Two Spirit” concept by whatever name a particular Tribal Nation calls it – is part of that particular Indigenous Nation’s culture and is not to be appropriated by colonist or non-Indigenous people.

I do not think that all of your information is %100 correct nor that you made the clear distinction between traditional pre-colonization Indigenous cultures and the later post-colonization Indigenous cultures that have been ravaged by genocidal colonists and their push to assimilate to white culture or die.  Homophobia for example is something you would pretty much only experience among post colonization non-traditional Indigenous cultures.  In other words homophobia and gender hysteria are european values that found their way into some Indigenous cultures only after initial european invasion and during it – obviously we still suffer colonization.

So you may have found an example of an Iroquois person acting very non-traditionally post-colonization, they are well known for this.  This does not mean it’s a pure Traditional Iroquois pre-colonization value, but more an assimilated european value that evolved post colonization.

Same goes for another example:  of Apache people supposedly not having multiple gender roles.  In fact as far as I can tell this idea goes back to the words of ONE single Apache person that was well into the colonization era and quite assimilated into colonist culture, this person did not have the right to speak for all Apache Nations or people.  Several Apache Nations are well documented as having and respecting “two-spirit” people.  In fact Geronimo who was Chiricahua aka Bedonkohe had a “two-spirit” person among his wives.  This was not unheard of among certain warrior societies and sleeping with a “two-spirit” before an important event was/is common Traditionally speaking.  Not solely because the person was/is “Two-Spirit” but because that person is a powerful spiritual leader/spiritual medicine person which is a path many “2 Spirits” follow/ed.  Of course not all “2 Spirits” are Spiritual healers and not all Spiritual Healers are “”2 Spirit”.

It is extremely important while looking at all of this you must constantly remind yourself, if it is true, that you are not Indigenous American and you are trying to understand something COMPLETELY foreign to you, more so than you ever realized probably, and you are seeing this world through the lens/view/eye of a Non-Indigenous Person… most likely as a white colonist, living on Indigenous home land, continuing the colonization.

You must work hard to learn About Indigenous people only From Indigenous people, they can speak for themselves and do not need white people to write or speak for them, and while doing so you must constantly challenge and remind yourself to try your absolute very best to see Indigenous world views and ways of being through Indigenous eyes, NOT through the old safe and comfortable euro/colonist lens that would see a group of indigenous women making clothes, gathering plants, cooking and caring for young children and see a group of their men coming back from a 4 day hunt, singing, telling stories and laughing with each other and jump to the conclusion that the women are oppressed, men have all the fun and that it’s a patriarchal society just like back in dear old europe (we don’t even really have -archies).

It’s far too easy to jump to assumptions based on what you are familiar with, so really challenge yourselves here to see it as best as you can from an Indigenous perspective.

To the one who wants to know why it’s wrong to appropriate Native/Indigenous Culture: We Indigenous american People have endured over 500 years of a full on Genocidal Invasion by white people, an ongoing Holocaust that some scientists say have killed well over 100 MILLION indigenous people so far, we’ve been forced by these people to assimilate or die, they’ve killed most of us with disease but the rest through barbaric violence and Cultural genocide – the only way we know how to/want to live made illegal with the threat of death as punishment.

They’ve stolen our babies and put them into far away boarding schools, cut their hair, gave them names from the white christian bible, filled their throats with watery soap if they spoke the only language they knew, THEIR OWN Indigenous Language, killing their mother tongue, killing family ties.  Whipping them bloody. Humiliating them.  Molesting them. Leaving the survivors with wounds so deep, they could only stand to live by numbing the pain with something…anything.  And the ones that didn’t survive….nothing.  Mass burials that are never spoken of and were done in the most disrespectful ways imaginable.

The colonists won’t let us be, they dig up our sacred sites and graves, murder and rape our women and children and much more….. We are not like magical unicorns from the PAST, or some western movie about how things WERE. No, we are here NOW. There ARE survivors and you don’t need to talk about us in past tense form %100 of the time, it is disrespectful and we are watching….reading. We live in PRISON CAMPS but you like to call them reservations/reserves, like we have a nice night planned out that involves a healthy meal in a place that respects us. When really the most we can usually hope for is a block of half rotten government cheese and a home that WON’T fall in on us tonight or send us outside to sleep in harsh elements so we can escape the smell of the toxic mold. The destruction of the disease of colonization goes on and on and on, too much to document it all here.

Everywhere we look in our homeland there is colonization smothering out the Indigenous.

…….and then you want to know why you shouldn’t take just a little more from us???

To those that wish to appropriate Indigenous culture by claiming to be “Two Spirited”: Lots of animals are homosexual or “gender variant” or inter-sexed. You’re not really all that special in that department, why take from our culture yet again to deal with something that is your own problem?

If you think certain ways of ours make sense then take a note.  Figure out what is wrong so that you can figure out what is right.  Then name yourselves and claim it and own it and honor it and we will too.

I just want to address one (of many) colonist-mentality excerpts from culturallyboundgender’s article:

“[A]lmost always, when you see gender roles, even if there are more than two, you can bet money that it’s just a matter of reclassifying people who don’t fit into a culture’s otherwise rigidly defined sex roles.”

Not every culture in the world is hellbent on “classifying” things, i.e. dividing and labeling (and ‘conquering’) every aspect of life quite like the control-freak, OCD & attention deficit-riddled colonist culture.  Nor does every culture on earth, past or present, have “rigidity” when dealing with whatever.  Right off the bat, “classification” and “rigidity” are very colonist culture-specific.  We are ALL centric to whatever culture we grew up in, which is not a bad thing!  But to try and analyze other cultures and think we can do so with any sort of objectivity or deep clarity and understanding is just impossible.  Doesn’t matter how many PhD’s someone has in Aboriginal Studies or African studies or whatever, if we are not an intricate part of whatever culture we “study”, or if we are not a genetic member of said culture, then chances are, we know very little about it, and any analysis we do will undoubtedly be inaccurate to some degree because of the mindset used to think about it.  Culture is a profound thing, an important and critical part of human life, and it shapes us.  The key is not in dismissing or minimizing the impact or importance culture plays in human life, but to recognize and then replace the unhealthy aspects of a culture with healthy ones.  You cannot have life without culture.  All living beings have culture.  And cultures are so radically diverse.  Indigenous cultures, though vastly diverse, seem to have the common element of respecting and preserving all aspects of Life, while colonist/”civilized” cultures have the common element of disrespecting, controlling and destroying all aspects of Life.

Next time you listen to and believe non-Indigenous people claiming to be scholarly experts of American Indian culture, it is very important to remember that no matter how many pieces of framed paper hang on people’s wall or how many letters come after their name:

“A master’s degree in ‘Indian Studies’ or in ‘education’ or in anything else cannot make a person into a human being or provide knowledge into traditional ways. It can only make you into a mental European, an outsider.”  (Russell Means)

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Chief Tuira Kayapo: A Bold Matriarchal Warrior Who Refuses Colonist Fuckery into Her World

Feminist Rag Award NEW_Chief Tuira Kayapo

“You have no right to destroy our river. The mothers of the Xingu will not allow it.”

No fancy worded pieces of legal paper or laws or money gives anyone the “right” to egregiously impose themselves and their ways on other people and the land they live on. This is the process of colonization and is always done with violence because people don’t like it, and resist when strangers try to take their home away and tell them to live a different way. This is genocide against people, culture, land, and the many non-human animals also living on the land. This is happening on any Indigenous lands deemed desirable by outsiders for its “resources”, and this is what is happening on the Xingu River Basin of Brazil.

For those times I feel hopelessly overwhelmed and eaten alive by the predatory colonist culture and its wake of infinite destruction, it is awesome matriarchal warrior women like Indigenous Brazilian Chief Tuira Kayapo of the Xingu River Basin who breathe life into my spirit. She and her people are fighting with and for their lives.

Some pictures are worth a thousand words, like the ones below.  The first image is Chief Kayapo using her machete to smack upside the head a bunch of colonist bastards who are trying to rape her land and genocide her culture for the usual reasons – greed and what they think is power – as the white male supremacist colonist culture has done and continues to do to all indigenous cultures across the globe, yours and mine included before our ancestors had the so-called “civilization” process inflicted upon them.  The second image is her scolding two colonist men for the same reasons.  Look at the colonists’ facial expressions — such disrespect for this woman and her people!  It looks like they know deep down what they’re doing is damn well wrong but they can’t see past their inflated egoes to show this woman and her culture RESPECT and leave them the hell alone to live as they want and choose. How is it that greed is so powerful an emotion that so strongly blocks people’s humanity?

In 1989 the Xingu River in Brazil was greedily eyed by soul-less colonists to make dams out of for profit. The indigenous outcry resulted in the plan dying out, but 20 years later, in 2008, the colonists, via an electric company (ElectroBras), once again were pushing the dam-building project. A dam that is said to be the 3rd largest in the world which affects the entire WORLD since the Amazon provides around 75% of the world’s oxygen and is home to so much Life and a large, diverse ecosystem.  The Indigenous resistance as explained in this article:

When the [colonist] speech was finished, a group of indigenous women and warriors rushed the stage, brandishing machetes and war clubs. The apologist for genocide was shoved to the ground and poked with a machete , cutting his arm. He was pulled away by conference organizers and taken to a hospital. [The Woman who cut Rezende’s arm was Tuira Kayapo — the same woman who slapped an Electrobras official with her machete at the 1989 gathering.]

The Kayapo people’s response in a letter to the government and electric company wanting to destroy these people’s land and way of life (and by extension, the people themselves):

We have decided that your word is worth nothing. The conversation is over. We, the Mebengôre Kayapó people have decided that we do not want a single penny of your dirty money. We do not accept Belo Monte or any other dam on the Xingu. Our river does not have a price, our fish that we eat does not have a price, and the happiness of our grandchildren does not have a price. We will never stop fighting: In Altamira, in Brasilia, or in the Supreme Court. The Xingu is our home and you are not welcome here. (source)

The colonist project of swooping in on land that is not theirs and destroying it and its people all in the name of profit and “resources”, has never been a good thing, yet it continues. Most normal people in the world are against it, yet those with money spit on Indigenous People and blindly, ignorantly go forward with their genocidal projects. What will it take to STOP this insanity and return to traditional Indigenous ways of life, and leave alone those who already live this healthy way of life, such as the Kayapo, before we’re all destroyed? What does it take to stop the the psychopathic pathology of greed? This is a greed that is normalized, taught, encouraged and rewarded by the euro-colonist “modern” “western” culture. How do you awaken such deeply asleep hearts and minds, who cannot see the genocidal devastation they cause?

“We are united by the disrespect of the government, the lack of consultations, the destruction of our lands.”

Our world — especially those of us in “developed” nations who participate in “development” projects in our own backyards and foreign lands — are in desperate need of mentors and heroes like Chief Kayapo who show us what it means to be a good, brave and truly free person and what really matters in life. There are no manuals or Idiots’ Guides to such things; it takes much inner reflection and life experience and following our hearts and having respectable people around us to learn from and inspire, in order to create/grow into a healthy identity and fight for what is right.

I am grateful that women like Chief Kayapo come to our attention and I wonder how many more such formidable women are out there that never see the media spotlight. I know there are many, and my search for them continues. If I identify as a feminist, it is due to women like this who embody the ideas of matriarchal heart, spirit and power, making me proud to be female and excited to continue honing my own warrior traits.

UPDATE on Aug.18, 2015: I don’t know where the dam project stands today or how Chief Kayapo and her people’s are doing, but I know it’s not good. The People continue fighting for their lives as this genocidal “development” project continues. I will update with more news when I’m able, and my thoughts and prayers are with this community, and wishing I could do more than that…Besides writing the government and circulating petitions and other such admin efforts, the whole 6 degrees of separation thing has us connected in some way to people in charge of such “development” projects. This is the direct “in”, and the most difficult – trying to change these people’s minds, appealing to their humanity, helping them understand that any reason that supports such projects are not good enough, and all excuses that keep people in a colonized lull. We must DEcolonize. RESPECT existence and resistance to genocidal projects, and do the right thing. All lives depend on it.

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