Our group of peoples had been going about our daily life, just living. I am watching my son playing in the water of our nearby river. I know my mother is watching him, but she’s just out of my view. I leave to go get towels or blankets from him, and in this new area, someone stops me and asks me to take care of a small matter for them. It will only take a few minutes they say, and I weight that against getting back to my son. I agree and complete the task, but just as I’m finishing, I see boatloads of sun-glass wearing people in boats streaming down the river, spreading out to each side where the river branches in almost opposite directions. They are each wearing black jackets with FBI on the left breast in big yellow letters.
Our group/people in this area are becoming panicked, beginning to call out to loved ones, to run, but they are being prevented by these encroachers who bring a sharp scent of intended harm. I also begin to run back to the place where my son, my mother were but they are gone. I look around frantically, calling their names, trying to find them in the peoples running to and fro. We are told we must leave, as we are all being gradually herded into lines to begin a slow march away from our home. I am not allowed to even go forward to look for my family. Suddenly overcome, I sink to the ground crying. From behind me, a man standing with his wife are watching. They don’t hurry me, they just watch me sadly in sympathy. They tell me they think they saw my mother and son sent ahead. I am soon able to get to my feet. There is nothing else to do, and the only way to possibly find and see them again is to go forward, wherever we are forced.
I begin walking, always tears flowing down my face, always eyes on the ground. This circle of ground where I see my feet walking is first on red-brown soil, later on pine needles, later on snow. With only my one hope of seeing my son and mother again, hunger, thirst, pain mean little to me, because they may be suffering it to. Doubtless they are, if they are still alive.
When I woke up… with all the delays, the distractions, the imperatives that have occupied my entirety in the last few years, I hadn’t been able to continue pursuing finding lost relatives. This is a thing that many white Americans don’t consider, or Europeans even if POC, when thinking about POC in the USA, particularly those from southeastern areas who are Native and/or mixed with African American especially. Some of us are still looking for family. We had relatives forcibly scattered and separated, in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, too. Not only physically also but on “paper”, when you had siblings with a variety of appearance, some labeled “negro” and some “Indian”. A few even labeled “white”. With my mother, a few years ago, we’d began researching family, for she’d never known all great grandparents names, just the “titles”. Some were on the Dawes Rolls. It can be extremely difficult to find family, and there is sometimes resistance, too, if you have African American heritage and/or dark appearance/features, and you try to communicate with Native nations. We experienced that. It can be disheartening when you’re only trying to find your relatives, not seek any benefits, and you’re treated with prejudice. That is emulating the patterns and mindsets of erasure and minimization Europeans and white culture and peoples, past and present, tried and still do to people of color.
When I was first beginning my degree in Native American Studies, with a focus on native mental health and trauma, I was introduced to Dr. Eduardo Duran, who with his wife Bonnie wrote the excellent work, “Native American Postcolonial Psychology.” Some of the succinct admonition he gave me was, “Always go in prayer and ask your dreams for guidance” and the reality that, “There is always a dream dreaming us.” If you search “dream” in the search bar to your left, you’ll see I have shared several powerful dreams I’ve had to help guide me….if I pay attention to them. You’ll find I shared some of the history of dreaming that runs in my family. I believe some dreams show us what our ancestors and others have lived, to help us reconnect to them and remain humble. They speak to us and help us clarify our path, our journey, our hearts and minds, especially when distressed and in pain.
These Days & Upcoming
Indigenous Research Methodologies and Practices is my current coursework this semester, and more specifically my next research project will deal with Autistic Spectrum Disorder in Native or indigenous populations, paralleling other ethnicities and people of color. It’s both a professional/academic and personal interest. There’s a possibility I may graduate this spring from MSU, it’s been a long, long journey and one of the most painful of my life, in combination with IRL events. We’ll see.
With my son’s upcoming hospital stay and several weeks of difficult recovery, pensiveness, seriousness and anxiety is higher than even our average at home. ASD makes many things far more difficult to deal with as you anticipate and know that even beyond the daily confusion, struggle to understand or nervousness you can feel in social situations, this will increase as your mental energy and attention decreases due to the diversion of facilities to the mostly internal battle to control your fears. Add in the fact of language barrier, knowing you have weeks of incapacity to look forward to. That inevitably there’ll be a time when you are treated harshly or callously by medical staff when you are at your most vulnerable. Especially for people of color, there is always an element of, “You should just be thankful someone’s helping you”, whether evenly or aggressively delivered. Asking to be treated with dignity, to be listened to especially if you have concerns or objections, can often draw greater ire or trigger further gaslighting. It’s a horrible experience I and my son (and people like us) have had to face many times.
So, when I posted a few weeks ago on my other social media pages that we were being quiet and physically and mentally preparing, some people do understand that. But without personal knowledge about the ASD factor they don’t know how it adds extra intensity, emotions and even outbursts I as a parent need to treat with patience and empathy, in addition to the daily pressures and struggles. For me, the hospital stay and recovery usually means 20hr days between travel to and from the hospital, caring for my son physically and emotionally in hospital, then taking care of the home, pets and the letters, demands, expectations and problems that never stop. Gotta find time to get a little good sleep, take my medications and keep trying to get over this bronchitis. Add on top, all the racist, petty nonsense that seems on repeat playback with family support being across an ocean, that I spoke about that in my “new year’s reflection” post, so won’t rehash it here.
Anyway, there’s where my thoughts have been the last days, what I’ve been going through for years, while still trying to decolonize myself, remain balanced, remain whole and help myself and my son heal from our trauma while still enduring others. My main focus remains healing, and I realize that sometimes that means choosing your battles. That does NOT mean letting things go. You take the lesson, you do what you can, while still moving in the direction you need to go, without letting diversions or attempts to dehumanize and hurt you change you for the worse.
Some photos of the area I grew up in north Alabama, and near the border of Tennessee. Been thinking a lot about home