Updated: Oct 2, 2020
My story began before I drew breath. I am a product of my family’s lifelong held hope, their dreams, and their nightmares. They hoped to destroy a system built upon their blood and bone, my third-great-grandparents. Amanda was her name and Pat was his, the results of colonialism dripping from their tongues as they spoke the westernized names that were shoved down their throats with the end of a hot spoke; her name was an after affect of the boarding school assimilation era, and his was the from the attempts of identity erasure during slavery.
Grandpa found his freedom during the time of the Emancipation Proclamation. Grandma found herself removed from her territory in Montana. They met and fell in love with each other in Virginia, passed through the Underground Railroad together, settled in a shoddy shack in the south, and had nineteen children together. One of these children grew up to be my grandmother Maude.
Once she grew older, she moved along with the rest of the family and headed for Kentucky. After the move, everyone settled in Kentucky. They later migrated and permanently settled in Ohio.
My great-grandmother was born and raised in Virginia. She was born in 1927 and passed away in 2015. She grew up with my third-great-grandparents and passed along small traditions from both of our people that we held onto.
I was raised on ancestral knowledge that was passed down. Traditions were consciously passed down. That is where my story begins, but it does not end there.
What historical events have affected you personally? (This may include your family.)
The assimilation era that targeted indigenous people and youth and the transatlantic slave trade. I did not grow up speaking the languages of either of my people; my fourth-great-grandparents (Pat’s parents) were kidnapped from “Africa”. The arrival of Columbus brought disease, the hunting of bison herds, and the genocide of my people. Moreover, many families were displaced because of the forced migration and Western Expansion era.
What events do you think should be taught in schools that connect to your own personal story?
For starters, the truth. The truth of the events that are already “taught”. The raw, unfiltered, non-whitewashed truth. I want our history to be taught pre-contact. I don’t want them taught in institutions. It is no secret that the education system is a method of indoctrinating POC youth; they are being pacified during their own destruction.
I want a complete dismantlement of their system. Every single part must be gone. Destroyed. No more.
What does the American Dream mean to you? How does it differ from what you thought it would be?
It means nothing to me, except that it is the constant reminder of white men and women profiting off of our reality that has become a nightmare since the day they washed up on our shores. To add to it, their flag is the physical embodiment of said nightmares; it is sewn and stitched with the stolen lives of our babies and their own lies. It is an illusion - a facade which acts as a cover to hide the exploitation and destruction of the lands of indigenous peoples across the world. It is a statement symbolic of nothing more than the graveyard of people of color.