She only spoke Salish when she was under anesthesia. When the defenses she had erected around that part of her Story were relaxed by gases.
In the 1930’s, my Grandmother was taken from her home and forced into a Canadian boarding school for First Nations peoples. The goal of these schools (which were in operation in the U.S. and Canada up until the 1970’s) was to “kill the Indian and save the man” inside every indigenous person.
Her hair was shorn. Her language, the only language she knew, was forbidden. Communication with her siblings who were also at the school was also forbidden. During school holidays she was sent to work in the homes of privileged White families. That’s right. During holidays.
She was 6-years old.
In the 1950’s, she met and fell in love with a White man who became my grandfather. They had four children and a ranch together but were not allowed marry– Loving vs. Virginia hadn’t happened yet. Unfortunately, back in those days, a woman wasn’t much without a husband, especially a brown woman. When my grandfather died unexpectedly of a heart attack she was left with four children to feed and clothe. All hands had to be on deck. My uncle, the oldest, had lost his right arm in a farming accident when he was 12-years old. Now, at 15, he went to work as a logger to help take care of his three younger sisters and the two cousins my Grandmother had taken in so that they literally wouldn’t die from neglect.
Because, let’s be honest, Reservations aren’t always the kindest place to raise your family. My Grandmother chose to raise her children on her ancestral homelands but not on a Reservation. She wanted to avoid the pitfalls of addiction, violence and poverty. I think she made a wise choice. My mother and father chose to raise me in the same small community.
Removed from the darker influences of the community also meant being removed from the positive influences of the community: Dances, ceremonies, prayers, songs. Cultural rhythms and cultural reasons.
My Grandmother would probably argue that she had more important things to worry about than passing on the language and any little spiritual tidbits she could remember. Food, winter coats, shoes without holes in them, and that cow with the breached calf, for example. Besides, all that “Indian stuff” ever had done was to bring her trouble.
Once, in the forest while checking cattle on horseback, my grandfather and Grandmother came across a couple of White ranchers. One of the ranchers made a joke about my Grandmother being my grandfather’s squaw . . .
She leveled her eyes and her rifle at the man and snarled “I’m no man’s squaw.”
My Grandmother worked Hard her entire life. My Mother has worked Hard her entire life. And you know what? I have worked Hard my entire life. I have spent summers working in lumber mills, summers fighting forest fires, summers fighting office boredom. But the Hard work of my Grandmother and my Mother afforded me something: A Bachelor’s degree. And then a Master’s degree. Which really means I had time to think. Time to explore. Time to wonder.
About our dances.
About our ceremonies.
Our prayers. Our songs.
And so I’ve gone searching for Them.
And I’ve found Them searching for me.
Don’t get me wrong: I am not in the business of selling novel cultural knowledge. That’s my Soul’s story for this lifetime. Your Soul has it’s own story that doesn’t and won’t look like mine.
I have been Searching and Exploring my Story since the day my Grandmother went into that boarding school.
And I’ve learned a few things.
First and Foremost?
I was raised by a woman who was raised by a woman who raised by an institution that hated her.
I was raised by Love which was raised by Love which wasn’t razed by institutionalized hate.
It’s this exploration and self-inquiry that lead me to become a journalist specializing in Native media. But now? Now I’m a journal-ist specializing in turning the lens inward.
My name is Darla. My Mother’s name is Bonnie. My Grandmother’s name is Lucy.
And yeah. I worship my Ancestors. On both sides of the family (my paternal lineage is pretty bad ass too– but that’s another story).
I don’t have time for airy-fairy, love-and-light bullshit.
I have no desire to transcend this World. Life on Earth is Mysterious. Dark. Dangerous. Glorious. It’s Hard Work. Miraculous. Ugly. Breath-taking and Heart-breaking. I want dark, dank Earth under my nails and silver dainty bells on my wrists. I want to bathe in the warm glow of a sunset and shiver in the cold breeze of the Moon-less night. I believe you can’t truly be a barefooted goddess (whatever that means) and not step in shit sometimes. Bring. On. The. Shit.
I have worked Hard to reclaim the lost Divine Feminine in my Life and my Lineage, and there’s still a lot left to claim.
I incarnated with a special set of tools to help me navigate which piles of shit to avoid and which are actually fertile bombs of Divine Earthy Love.
Dreams and Intuition.
And You have them too.
Let’s get some dirt on those chakras.