Native Cultural Appropriation = America’s blind spot

As numerous the issues we face as Maori people in the Southern seas, I do no envy the amount of effort it takes to even be seen as a Native person in the US. When I walk through the US continent, I am astounded by the ways that the US mainstream both ignore and deny the enormity of their negative global impact. Mauri ora to you Rebecca, be well and may your ancestors keep you and your family strong and safe.

(Un)learned

Rebecca Sanchez

Native American graduate student, educator, artivist

Based in Long Beach

Follow on twitter @Yaqui_Woman

Being Indian is a responsibility, not a fashion statement.

We live in a society where k-12 students learn more about the diversity of dinosaurs than they do of the original peoples of this land.  Due to their limited exposure, most Americans’ perceptions of Native people are limited to kindergarten construction paper feather headdress and Edward Curtis photos from the early 1900s.  The most popular mental images will undoubtedly be of the noble savage in full feather “war bonnets,” the type hipsters try to emulate at Coachella.  These individuals claim to “respect,” “appreciate,” or dare I say, “love” Native American culture (as if there was only one) and of course they mean no offense, right?  They love what they perceive as Native American culture, yet they remain completely ignorant of Native peoples and the…

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uncle chicken

The kids in my village have so many different names for me… uncle chicken, uncle bushy-hair, the lips of doom, skinak-de-baldak, the rasin, richfishsupertran, mary-legs, uncle hi, hi ika, uncle rich… so many more crazy invented names.

To them I am a different uncle every year, but I am always the same uncle… trying my hardest to create a positive future for them.

I am looking forward to going home in just over a week. I miss the realness of those smart-arsed beautiful brown kids. I cannot wait to see the world they will create.

remodel

remodel

Remodel repost repository posit post 🙂

It was my rebirthday on Friday and something in me switched the flickering nights to a sensuous pulse; like a strobe light carving out vignettes of yesterday. I decided to take it slow and flow like a river of tears, happy ones from now on because there’s no more room inside for dying. I have to keep telling myself that until I remember to smile without feeling like I forced it.

But yah, it has been a good weekend thus far.

huka sailed down on eagle wings to the sea and spun a whirlpool of stars; flashing fashionable fireworks that sugarcoated the ocean with a gleaming wash and spay in the chill nighttime air. Not a care in the world but really, it’s all caring these days. I felt really good in my many hoods. In my dreams I walked around the pa and invited my relations to come and celebrate with me. I wish I was in the pa right now because I miss my relations. I am in Vancouver. As is so often the case here, the weather seems grim and it brings back lots of painful memories. I suppose I am lucky though. I have come to tautoko my friend. He is from the pa, so at least we be horis together here in this city of scary seductions.

I was thinking about my middle nephew on the plane yesterday… he reminds me of me in lots of ways; bright eyed and a head full of things that make you wonder how old he really is. I was thinking about all three of my nephews yesterday. I love that I am a good uncle and I love the kids from my village. As we grow, we become people I really enjoy being around. I suppose it is the familiarity of family that always keeps us connected, no matter how far we drift in the seeming spinning madness of this beautiful unfolding universe.

I have been to so many places over the past two weeks. San Francisco, Woodland, Davis, Houston, Tampa, Dallas and now I am here in Canada. I was supposed to be in Lima this week, presenting research there, but I didn’t get the funding I applied for. Tupuna had a whole other plan that I am enjoying following through on. It seems crazy to live on less than $200 (NZD) a week, and yet be able to get around the world so easily. I suppose ancestors create our pathways for us once we start believing that they exist.

I remember all of those years and years and years of coke a cola, fried noodles and eggs, subsistence living giving me a diet of clogged arteries and fears of diabetes DIE! I BET HE’S AN ABSENTEE FATHER TO A BUNCH OF WAITING WELFARE DEPENDENTS… Life is different now and I have to try really hard to remember that my days of deficit living are buried beneath the sea forever from now on. It feel good to be able to trust that I will always get fed, but the memory of starving lingers long and on and on, making my stomach rumble with anger that it’s always hungry time no longer linger in those nightmares that were someone else’s. My mother’s voice echoes down the phone…”you should buy crackers if you can afford them because they’ll fill you up, or cornflakes”. Cornflakes are a sad substitute for a meal, especially considering how Kellogg’s invented them as a way to subdue sexual feelings that children might have.

It is really good to celebrate and feel good about living and giving gifts from our ancestors. The past few weeks in the US, I have been sharing a lot of knowledge. I feel good that the knowledge I arm myself with, can help so many. I think of all those years where I felt I had nothing to offer to anybody, not even myself. I sometimes am in disbelief that my journey through life reflected the eternal emptiness I felt for so much of my life. Now, I feel full. When I look in the mirror, I see an incredible creature, and I am still shocked that it took an entire lifetime to see the person everybody else, but me, could see. In Tampa, a new friend asked if would be interested in presenting some of my research in the UK… at Cambridge where he works. I am also working on a paper that will hopefully be included in a book of relatively new academic theory. Jesus Holy shit Christ… how did I end up becoming a theorist?

How is this my life? How did I end up at a party cavorting with A-list celebrites last night? How am I lying in bed, overlooking this very cool city from a 32nd story vantage? Yesterday, and fourteen yesterdays before, I looked at the image of my life. I saw that I have a life… and I saw how important it is to live that life. I wish someone had told me, or that I had heard and listened to messages of how important it is to live and share life. If people were able to truly see the magic they so effortlessly gift to each other, rather than perceive their magic as some screwed up mistake of social normality, we would glow knowing how astounding we are. I started to see a whole lot of layers that I hadn’t perceived before and now my mind is mixed with the glitterfireworks, fixed in the glossygreen glint of the sky on the sea. That’s the me I remembered before I died again. My art tells me stories and now I am remembering to make that my method of gladness.

I love being a hori. Happy Easter for sure… I had better call my mother.

smashed

I watch hummingbirds as they dart, the start is here and I drift into the war as it ceases to hide… guiding flights. Nights and days intertwine and weave themselves into warmth.

Somehow, I am in California again. The air is a lot colder than when last I was here, but after the rain that greeted me I can feel the breath of warmth that is coming from the south, where I have arrived from. Strange to think that I breathed this warmth a few days ago, and now I am here beginning to be enveloped in my own aroha.

I think about freedom amongst the doom of drudgery that exists here, despair drugged out from the codine and coffee cacophany. The smells in this part of the world make me think about illness. It is like there is a sickness that has sunk into the land, and has washed over the people as they eat the gasoline that grows in the Earth. My spirit sinks to the height of heady abandon, mandatory falling.

I fix my sights on the winding embers of yesterday, and whisper with the wind. We tell stories and in the gusts and flurries we giggle as they grow. Why do I sometimes imagine I lived my life in a cage? This age is no longer the same… that much is clear. There is no longer any fear, I have forgotten it and its impeding impact upon my life, on my love, on my heart I start a song that soothes the anxieties of a lifetime.

My mixtured dreams don’t disappear at the neon light of the dawn. Instead the fathoms of oceans evaporate and rain my life into licorice… it sticks to my teeth and tongue and I speak the language of leisure.

Pleasure?

Assuredly I coax my feet into the soft blowing breeze, bedridden for only a fleeting moment of rhyme I arise and yawn the apocalypse of business days back to their briefcases. It’s all too sentimental, this dreaded soapy foundation of nine to five fictions.

This is the liberation of nuclear fission, a conjoined company of me, myself and my makings, a king or a queen, whatever the jest, my best is yet to come.

Blow caution to the find me here and now. My today is all I have, and I own it like my breath.
It is strange, I feel almost befuddled, not with jet-lag, but with surprise. I was only here in Woodland and Davis a few short months ago, but the world in that time has shifted and now instead of being left behind as I had been, I have phased back into the space where I perhaps leaped off from, as if I did not jump at all.

In the months between today and last year, I have been home to Aotearoa New Zealand. I travelled all through the lands of my ancestors, with gifts in my hands as offerings; prayers to placate the years of yearning. As I wandered, I wondered, I watched, I warned, I waned, I warmed, I went to wherever I felt I was supposed to be. It was a journey of being placeless at home, and for those many months I felt complete disconnect. Reconnect me to the source, of course that is what I want, and weirdly in that homeless happening my heart began to beat again just as I felt I was falling… dying from daydreams.

And then all of a sudden I was in a new space, but with family; my big sister, her three babies, my niece who I hadn’t seen in twenty years and a cousin who kept me safe as a black fuzzy tar-baby. Australia is not the country I remembered from my traumatised youth of addictions and self-abuse, used up once but no longer. I feel like I found the person I left there a decade ago, dead from decadence and inconsolable; yet on my return, incandescent and decent. A descent into the depths of hell helped me heal from the pain I didn’t even know I felt.

I love these ways, as they wend and take me forever into the fray… I am no longer flayed by devils of daily grinds. My mind is free to manifest fast fusions, illusions and depth.

And now I feel my forays into a new future, glittered with gorgeousness and genius graspings. I can see a pathway, I look ahead and I see the lifetime I have walked in darkness and dismay. My past, even though troubled, is what it is. Now that I can see it clearly on my return to the place where I forgot to live, it doesn’t scare me anymore because in all its torment, it was my beautiful journey and as alien as I am, I experienced its emotions fully.

Behind me the pathway extends forever, and the future that lies there backlights my life like a shining silhouette; that’s my aura, all colours that glow together like a rainbow of rapture.

I feel pretty, I feel good.